The Buzz

HomeOrange & Black AttackFootball: Oilers have plenty to play for

Football: Oilers have plenty to play for

By ANDY WOLF
STAFF WRITER
In the past three season finales, the only thing the University of Findlay football team had to play for was a winning record.
Entering 5-5 each time, the Oilers dropped the first and won the last two.
Saturday’s regular-season finale has a lot more weighing on it.
Findlay, No. 21 in the latest Division II coaches poll, meets Ohio Dominican in the virtual Great Midwest Athletic Conference championship game at noon Saturday at Panther Stadium in Columbus.
“The margin of error between 9-1 and 6-5 is pretty (slim),” UF coach Rob Keys said.
Both teams are 6-0 in league play and riding lengthy winning streaks.
The Oilers are 9-1 overall and have won their last eight by an average of 45.7 points per game.
The Panthers dropped their first three games but have won all six in GMAC play to stand at 6-3.
“We have an opportunity to do something that a lot of work has gone into, not just this season, but all the seasons prior,” Keys said.
Findlay is also retained its No. 4 ranking in Super Region One.
A win could likely seal a home playoff game, with the top seven teams reaching the postseason.
Here are four more things to know for Saturday’s game:
HISTORY LESSON: The two teams met five times prior, all as members of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Panthers have won four of the last five and three straight.
They also won the overall GLIAC title in 2013 and a South Division title in 2014 in making consecutive postseason appearances.
“They’re right where they expected to be,” Keys said, noting ODU was picked to win the league title. “We’re just very fortunate to have the opportunity to go against such a great team in Columbus.”
Findlay didn’t win a GLIAC title and hasn’t won any league title since 1997, when it captured the Mid-States Football Association crown en route to winning the NAIA national title at 14-0.
TOUGH LOSSES: The four losses between the two teams have come against schools with a combined record of 29-8.
Findlay fell 48-27 in Week 2 to No. 11 Ferris State.
Ohio Dominican dropped its opener 36-34 to then-No. 8 California (Pa.) before falling to Ashland 47-22 and Division I Pennsylvania in consecutive weeks.
PASSING EFFICIENCY: Two of the top five quarterbacks in terms of passing efficiency rating will be on the same field Saturday.
Findlay’s Rhys Gervais ranks second (188.9), while ODU’s Grant Russell is fifth (187.9).
Gervais is throwing for 205.8 yards per game with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions.
But his numbers have come in smaller quantities. He missed two starts to injury and the Oilers have leaned heavily on the No. 4 rushing offense (286.8 ypg) in the country.
Russell (280) has attempted 117 more passes than Gervais (163) and has totaled 2,843 yards with 28 touchdowns to two picks.
“He makes the game look easy because he’s played so much football,” Keys said of Russell. “The thing I like about him more than anything is his toughness.
“You look at his accuracy and his percentages and his yards, but he’s one of the tougher quarterbacks that I’ve had the opportunity to coach against over the last couple years. He stands in there and delivers when guys are right in his face. He takes hits and gets back up.”
MATCHUPS: The reigning GMAC offensive and defensive players of the week might square off against each other numerous times Saturday.
Ohio Dominican receiver Cory Contini and Findlay cornerback Tyler Lee took home the respective honors after strong games.
Both are juniors and listed at 6-1.
Contini caught five passes for 142 yards and four touchdowns in a 63-7 win over Kentucky Wesleyan. He leads ODU with 1,006 yards and 11 TDs.
Meanwhile, Lee had two interceptions, one for a 47-yard pick six in Findlay’s 70-28 stomping of Alderson Broaddus.
Lee, who has four interceptions, starts opposite of junior Chewy Chukwuneke (2 ints.) and with senior Aaron Ivory (4 ints.) and junior Francis Cutchember (1 int.) at safety.
Together they’ve helped the Oilers sport the fourth-best defense in terms of passing efficiency (90.90).
Opposing teams are completing only 46.0 percent of their attempts for 155.7 yards per game.
Only 13 teams have produced more interceptions (15) and only three have more pick-sixes (four).
“It goes back to experience,” Keys said. “They’ve seen a lot, not only in practice but in game situations. They’ve gotten better every single game and year.
“They play with great confidence. They believe in each other and they play as a unit.”
Findlay also has forced 27 turnovers — fourth best in the country.
Ohio Dominican has turned the ball over just six times this season.
Wolf: 419-427-8496,
andywolf@thecourier.com