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Football: Ivory leading by senior example

By ANDY WOLF
STAFF WRITER
Aaron Ivory had that senior feeling long before he ever was one.
As one of the more experienced defensive backs for the University of Findlay football team, he knew what he needed to do near the end of his junior year.
“I knew I had younger guys watching me,” Ivory said. “So I would attack each rep that I could and from there I knew I was going to have to lead.”
Ivory will be one of 10 seniors honored for senior day during pregame Saturday as the Oilers host Alderson Broaddus in the home finale with kickoff set for 1 p.m. at Donnell Stadium.
“We’re a very disciplined group,” Ivory said. “We take the coaching and we apply it on the field and we expect the same out of the younger guys.”
Findlay, ranked No. 22 in the coaches poll for the second straight week, is 8-1 overall and 5-0 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Alderson Broaddus is 2-7, 1-4.
The Oilers are also sitting fourth again in the Super Region One rankings.
While the potential of a home playoff game looms, Ivory is still going to enjoy the emotion as he walks across the field with his parents.
He’s been a player that’s worn many hats and played many roles in his four years at UF.
Ivory has appeared at every position in the secondary and on both ends of special teams plays.
He even started at wide receiver in last year’s opener and caught five balls for 61 yards.
“It just means I’m coachable and willing to do whatever it takes for the team I guess,” Ivory said.
He’s tallied 135 tackles in career 37 games with seven interceptions and three forced fumbles.
This season Ivory has more pick-sixes than the rest of the GMAC combined with three — most in UF history — and he nearly recorded a fourth last week.
Though he’s been banged up here and there over the past few years, his presence has been invaluable for the Oilers.
“Aaron has a ton of experience and that’s what makes him good,” Keys said. “He’s been a consistent player for us and this year he’s many plenty of explosive plays.
Here are four more things to know for Saturday’s game:
SERVING BAGELS: The Oilers recorded their second shutout of the season in last Thursday’s 49-0 thrashing at Malone.
It was their first since stunning Tuskegee 61-0 at Donnell in Week 4 and first with multiple in a season since 2004.
“We were hungry for a shutout,” Ivory said. “We couldn’t wait for the opportunity to go out there showcase it again.”
The defense is allowing 12.3 ppg — tied for seventh nationally. Alderson Broaddus puts up 29 points a contest.
Only Ferris State has scored more than 20 points against the Oilers in a 48-27 victory.
Since the start of GMAC play, UF has kept three teams out of the end zone, surrendering only one field goal apiece to Walsh and Lake Erie.
“That just says we have to be detailed in our approach in everything we do,” Ivory said. “Once we attack the games in a detailed manner, such as Tuskegee and Malone, then we can get the result that we want.”
WINNING BIG: The Oilers haven’t just been winning but by decisive margins.
They’ve secured six of their last seven victories by at least 38 points
Ultimately, UF has been able to keep its foot on the pedal while making mass substitutions of younger players in the second half.
“We never get complacent once we get a lead on somebody because we know we play to our standard,” Ivory said. “Our standard is scoring 50-plus points a game and shutting the team out with 0 points. … We know that the games that we’ve won such as Hillsdale (31-13), we know we could’ve played better since the standard is set so high this season.”
ABOUT ABU: Alderson Broaddus has had its share of hardships in 2017 with four of its last five losses coming by a total of 14 points.
Last week the Battlers led Hillsdale 21-7 in the first quarter and were knocking on the door for another score until Merrick Canada returned an ABU fumble 97 yards to pull the Chargers within a score. Hillsdale went on to win 38-34.
“This team is very explosive on offense,” Keys said. “They have some excellent skill receivers, a couple really good running backs that can go the distance.
“All in all, this team won nine games last year.”
Wideouts Zake Lake and Jermaine Wynn rank first (21.9) and third (18.3) in the GMAC in yards per catch of receivers with at least 10 catches.
Lake has 25 catches for 548 yards and 6 TDs while Wynn has gone for 476 yards and five scores on 26 grabs.
DEFENSIVE LEADERS: ABU junior Quade Raley and UF senior Johnny Hopkins share the GMAC lead with 12 tackles for loss apiece.
Also leading the conference for UF is Francis Cutchember in passes defended (10), Aaron Ivory in pick-sixes (3) and Justice Jenkins in fumbles recovered (3).
Though Findlay also posts the best third-down conversion rate at 27.7 percent, Ivory is hoping the defense can get off the field even quicker.
“We don’t like when teams get first downs at all,” Ivory said. “That’s how high our standard is. Therefore going forward we’re trying to be perfect on third downs and get off the field when we have to.”
DINGED UP: Both starting quarterback Rhys Gervais and running back Daouda Sylla left the first half due to injuries last week against Malone.
Gervais has already missed two starts this season while fellow senior running back Chauncey Bridges hasn’t played since Week 2.
“It’s day to day,” Keys said, generally speaking. “There’s some guys that were banged up. We are in Week 10. Every team has some injuries that they’re battling with. We’re no different.”
“Even if they’re not starters, they prepare like starters and when they get their chance they have to take advantage of it.”
Wolf, 419-427-8496
andywolf@thecourier.com