October 17th, 2019 7:00am
It’s hard to believe we’ve reached mid-October already. Let’s take a look at the week seven matchups…
Hillsdale (4-2, 2-0 G-MAC) at Findlay (4-2, 3-1 G-MAC), noon
This is easily the game of the week in the conference, especially given the circumstances that ended last year’s matchup. Findlay, who had dominated the previous three matchups between the teams, found itself down by three and driving for the go-ahead score, but a controversial ruling of a fumble at the goal-line in the waning seconds sent Hillsdale to the victory and ultimately the league title.
This game will go a long way towards determining the conference title and staying alive for a postseason berth. We’ll start with the Oilers, who surprisingly struggled to put Walsh away last week despite outgaining the Cavaliers 454-195. With injuries to Brian Benson and Reuben Flowers, Findlay’s offense couldn’t finish off drives like it usually does, settling for four field goals and missing on a pair of fourth down conversions. The defense performed about as expected, though, registering three interceptions and never really being threatened by Walsh in the second half.
Hillsdale had to gut out an overtime victory at Northwood, but it was an impressive showing for redshirt freshman QB Luke Keller. Building off of his performance against Concord, Keller threw for 228 yards and two scores and ran for another in OT to give Hillsdale the victory. He’ll be tested by a Findlay defense that has intercepted 10 passes and allowed just seven scores through the air this fall.
With both teams sporting quality defenses, I’d expect this one to be close throughout. Hillsdale has to clean up its special teams though – Northwood had two long kickoff returns and the Chargers totaled just 58 yards on three punts.
West Liberty (3-3, 3-3 MEC) at Walsh (1-5, 1-3 G-MAC), 1 p.m.
This will be another test for the Walsh defense, which kept Findlay out of the end zone for the majority of last Saturday’s game. West Liberty enters this contest averaging 33.3 points per game, and while it struggles running the ball (3.3 yards per carry), is averaging 265 yards per game in the air.
The Hilltoppers have also lost six fumbles this season, and Walsh was able to recover one against the Oilers in the second half last week. Unfortunately for Walsh, the offense couldn’t cash that into points, and Findlay wound up pulling away.
West Liberty’s defense has been fairly stout against the run, surrendering just 3.9 yards per carry, and they held Concord to just 51 yards on the ground last week. Walsh must be able to protect the ball better (15 turnovers on the season) to help out its defense, and capitalize when they get a short field. Defensively, Morgan Trust and Co. must play at its same high level that it did last week against Findlay’s talented offense.
Alderson Broaddus (0-6, 0-3 G-MAC) at Tiffin (5-1, 3-0 G-MAC), 1 p.m.
The Dragons had little troubles in dispatching of Kentucky Wesleyan last week, rolling up 554 yards of offense. With the way that Alderson Broaddus’ defense has performed this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tiffin approaches or eclipses that mark this week. Tiffin has been really balanced this season, running for over 220 yards per game and throwing for better than 300 yards per contest, and they should find similar success this week.
And for as flashy as the offense has been, the defense has been right there to match it. The Dragons are the top team in scoring defense (16.2) and total defense (290.5 yards per game) in the league. Quite frankly, they are playing the best football of anyone in the league right now.
AB was able to jump to a 14-0 lead over Lake Erie and trailed by just three midway through the third quarter, but couldn’t finish as the Storm rushed for a pair of touchdowns to pull away. Though the pass defense was solid in allowing just 117 yards on 28 attempts, the rush defense was gashed for over 300 yards. Though Jalen Jackson ran for 125 yards, AB couldn’t get much else going offensively, completing just 9-of-27 passes.
Lake Erie (2-4, 2-2 G-MAC) at Taylor (2-3, 0-2 MSFA), 2 p.m.
The Storm picked up its second win in three weeks after downing the Battlers last Saturday. I know I’ve mentioned this stat a lot, but it bears repeating. Lake Erie ran for 475 yards, total, all of last season. They picked up 320 on the ground against AB, with Eric Zokouri rushing for 212 yards alone.
The Storm’s defense has also been pretty solid, particularly in defending the pass where they allow just 161 yards per game through the air. Lake Erie ranks fourth in the league in both scoring and total defense. They’ll match up against a Taylor team that has struggled offensively, scoring just seven touchdowns and averaging 12.2 points through five games.
Taylor’s defense has been pretty good, though, surrendering just 21.6 points per contest and 3.5 yards per carry. I’d expect this one to be a close, low-scoring contest – it is key to note, though, that Taylor has been outscored 35-0 in the fourth quarters of games this year.
Ohio Dominican (3-2, 2-1 G-MAC) at Kentucky Wesleyan (0-6, 0-3 G-MAC), 2 p.m.
ODU will be making its first trip to Owensboro and looks for its second straight win, while KWC will try to pick up its first victory of the year after taking a couple of steps back the last two weeks.
The schedule makers didn’t do Kentucky Wesleyan very many favors with the middle part of its slate, having to play Findlay, Tiffin, ODU and Hillsdale consecutively. After losing three of its first four games by a touchdown or less, KWC faded in the second half against Findlay and didn’t put up much of a challenge to Tiffin in its last two contests.
Kentucky Wesleyan averaged less than 2.0 yards per play last week, but they’ll be facing an ODU defense that is allowing nearly 480 yards per game. Almost miraculously, ODU is yielding just 26 points per contest, aided tremendously by registering 14 takeaways in five games. KWC has committed 14 turnovers itself this year.
Ohio Dominican’s offense has started to click in the last six quarters, scoring 80 points in that stretch, and we’ll see if they stay sharp coming out of a bye week.