By ANDY WOLF
Plenty telling statistics exist in proving how dominant the University of Findlay offensive line has been this season.
Six games in, they’ve allowed only two sacks and have paved the way for the fourth-best rushing attack in the country at 290.5 yards per game.
Those are just the big two.
Senior left guard Andrew Alten sees it a little differently.
“Just our ability to get up in games early and run the ball early and control the game from the first quarter,” he said.
Lately, the Oilers have bolted out of the gates to lopsided halftime leads in each of their last four games, outscoring opponents 153-16 in the first half.
Those early leads have helped them lean heavily on the run at 325.5 ypg in those contests.
Findlay is 5-1 overall, 2-0 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference with its toughest league foe to date up next.
Hillsdale (3-3, 1-1), one of three GMAC teams with a non-losing record, hosts the Oilers for a 1 p.m. Saturday showdown at Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium.
The Chargers yield the lowest rushing totals in the GMAC (111.5 ypg, 3.7 yards per carry).
“We feel pretty comfortable with each other, obviously confident,” Alten said of the team at the halfway point. “Our offense is definitely clicking. We have no doubt that our defense is clicking.
“As an O-line, we’ve been playing together so long, we’re going out every week and we’re going to prove it.”
Alten made his 34th career start in last week’s 63-3 drubbing of Lake Erie.
He’s the eldest member as the only senior on an already experienced O-line that had four starters returning at the beginning of the year.
“I don’t think we have enough time to talk about all the things Andrew Alten does for this program,” UF coach Rob Keys said. “He is a model player on and off the field.”
Left tackle Andrew Dickinson (sophomore), center Neal Davis (sophomore) and right tackle Christian Olmstead (junior) each have a year of experience under their belt. First-year right guard Clay Colvin has quickly conformed to the high standard of play as a sophomore.
Alten also had plenty of praise for sophomore Logan Bailey who started for the first time at right tackle in place of the injured Olmstead last week.
“He had one of the best freshman performances I’ve seen out of an O-lineman,” Alten said. “”¦ He’s been preparing like he’s starting.”
SERIES HISTORY: The Chargers hold the all-time series lead at 16-10.
Findlay has used fast starts to topple Hillsdale decisively the past two seasons.
The Oilers led 28-10 at halftime in Hillsdale to produce a 45-34 win in 2015 before demolishing them 46-28 at home after getting ahead 40-0 in the early third quarter.
Yet Keys doesn’t think anything of the past will bring any extra motivation towards Hillsdale’s way.
PASSING CHANCE: Hillsdale quarterback Chance Stewart led the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in passing last year (292 ypg) a year after Findlay’s Rhys Gervais did so (304.8).
Both are juniors but Gervais has missed the last two starts due to a left leg injury with Adam Bertke filling in.
Stewart (263.2 ypg), a 6-foot-6, 265-pound transfer from Western Michigan, has completed at least 60 percent in his last four games. In all, he’s thrown eight touchdowns to five interceptions.
“He’s an extreme talent,” Keys said of Stewart. “He definitely has a good grasp of the offense now as opposed to a year ago.”
Defensively, the Oilers have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 46.6 percent of their passes for 152 ypg and just two touchdowns to eight interceptions.
NEXT BACK UP: Both teams returned their leading rusher from a year ago but neither Hillsdale’s Joe Reverman nor Findlay’s Chauncey Bridges has played since Week 2.
Daouda Sylla, who shared carries with Bridges in 2016, leads the GMAC with 844 yards(fourth nationally) and 10 scores. Teammate Michael Campbell has 275 yards and 8 TDs.
Hillsdale’s David Graham (531 yards, 10 TDs) topped the century mark for the first time last week (109) with three rushing scores.
GO-TO GUYS: Hillsdale’s Trey Brock and Findlay’s Jason Moore each were first-team all-GLIAC receivers a year ago as sophomores.
Their junior seasons are also just as strong.
Brock (6-foot-3, 219 pounds) is second nationally with 767 yards on 49 catches. He posted a 12-catch, 302 yard performance with two scores in a Week 4 loss to Indianapolis (35-28) and is coming off a career-high of 13 receptions (175 yards) against Ohio Dominican.
“He’s a playmaker and he does it on all downs,” Keys said of Brock. “You’ll see him on first and second down catch the (run-pass option) slant and take it 60 (yards). Then you’ll see him in a third-down situation and go up over top of somebody and catch the deep ball.”
Keys added Brock is the best wide out they’ve faced since Week 1 in Tiffin’s Charles Holland who they held to 72 yards and eight catches.
Meanwhile, Moore hasn’t been needed to make the splash he did a year ago. He still leads UF with 387 yards and seven scores.
Football: Alten is a rock for UF O-line
By ANDY WOLF