By ANDY WOLF
New conference foe. Same dominating result.
The University of Findlay football team opened its first ever meeting against Kentucky Wesleyan with a 47-7 halftime edge and posted its highest scoring total of the season in a 68-14 Great Midwest Athletic Conference victory at Donnell Stadium to kickoff homecoming weekend.
“I won’t lie; winning is winning and it doesn’t matter who the opponent is,” UF coach Rob Keys said. “We don’t make the schedule. We play it. Our guys have worked very hard to put themselves in position to play the way we’ve been playing.”
The Oilers (7-1, 4-0 GMAC) have now won six straight by an average of 47.5 points per game. The Panthers dropped to 2-5, 1-2.
Perhaps the only thing different from the previous five wins was the Oilers not receiving the opening kickoff.
They promptly forced a punt and went right to work on outgaining KWC 588-304 on the night.
UF put together six scoring drives in seven chances in the first half, only failing on an interception by backup Adam Bertke.
Meanwhile, Aaron Ivory’s 64-yard pick six sparked a four-turnover, five-sack performance by the defense.
“That just goes to our coaching (defensive coordinator Jason) Makrinos,” Ivory said. “He preaches ‘the ball is ours’. We’ve been practicing like that since camp and that’s a real testament to him.”
Ivory’s score turned out to be the longest of the first half as all UF’s offensive touchdowns came in the red zone.
Senior running back Daouda Sylla scored his 13th and 14th rushing touchdowns of the season on 1- and 20-yard runs to give UF an early 14-0 lead just 6:18 in.
He totaled 134 yards in the first half, eclipsing the 1,000 yard barrier late in the first quarter as he needed only 61 yards coming in.
Junior wideout Jason Moore (five catches, 45 yards) turned in his third three-touchdown game of the season — catching scores of 8, 2 and 15 yards all in jumpball scenarios in the first half.
The first two came from Rhys Gervais and the third from Bertke.
Moore’s first touchdown catch came with redemption.
One play prior, he leapt and grabbed a high ball from Gervais but lost control as he hit the ground.
Moore maintained possession while landing on the next play as Gervais let him have a second chance.
“It felt really good,” said Moore, who now has 10 touchdowns on the year. “I hate leaving opportunities out there and the fact that I missed that, it was just mind-blowing but the fact that we came right back to it felt really good.”
On UF’s next drive, Gervais lofted one to 6-foot-5 sophomore Drew Ogletree in the end zone from 13 yards out for his fifth receiving TD of the season.
“Drew, he’s an excellent player and the relationship that he continues to build with Rhys, Drew’s going to be an excellent player in the years to come,” Moore said. “I’m excited for his future.”
Even with Bertke’s interception, the Oilers won the turnover battle.
Ivory started them off by jumping a short Mike McGee pass in a crowd of bodies and emerging out the other side before anyone knew where the ball ended up.
“I was guarding the No. 2 receiver. Once I see the ball was thrown while my guy was still in front of me, it tipped off of the No. 3 receiver in the slot’s hands and I was already breaking down field and I just kept running from there,” Ivory said.
Chiebuka Chukwuneke and Cade Rogers each had interceptions while Isaac Miles forced a fumble, recovered by Tyler Lee.
McGee did generate an early TD, finding Jared Beard for a 13-yard strike in the end zone to cut UF’s lead to 20-7 at the 4:36 mark of the first quarter. The Oilers hadn’t allowed a first quarter score since Week 2 against Ferris State.
McGee (18 of 33) threw for 223 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown to Ladarrius Dunn against the UF second string defense, and two interceptions.
Michael Campbell ran for 111 of his game-high 147 yards in the second half with a 70-yard dash and a 1-yard score, Jacob Hill tacked on a crowd-dazzling 81-yard kick return after many sharp cuts and Nate Slagel (82 yards) had a 4-yard score to cap the second half scoring.
Justice Jenkins led UF with seven tackles and a sack. Justin Ellis, Kyle Gibson and Miles also recorded a sack with Johnny Hopkins and Kenneth Washington combining on another.
Kentucky Wesleyan 7 0 7 0 — 14
Findlay 27 20 7 14 — 68
UF — Sylla 1 run (Demler kick)
UF — Sylla 20 run (Demler kick)
UF — Ivory 64 interception return (kick failed)
KWC — Beard 12 pass from McGee (Logsdon kick)
UF — Moore 8 pass from Gervais (Loveridge kick)
UF — Ogletree 13 pass from Gervais (kick failed)
UF — Moore 2 pass from Gervais (Demler kick)
UF — Moore 15 pass from Bertke (Demler kick)
UF — Campbell 1 run (Demler kick)
KWC — Dunn 71 pass from McGee (Logsdon kick)
UF — Hill 81 kickoff return (Demler kick)
UF — Slagel 4 run (Demler kick)
First Downs 14 28
Rushes-yards 31-81 51-390
Passing Yards 223 198
Comp-Att-Int 18-34-3 14-24-1
Punts-Avg. 9-35.7 3-35.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 10-95 7-55
rushing — Kentucky Wesleyan, McGee 8-29, Johnson 13-27, Byrd 3-11, Mitchell 4-9, Teague 2-3, Austin 1-2. Findlay, Campbell 13-147, Sylla 14-137, Slagel 17-82, Hill 1-7, Gervais 2-6, Bertke 1-5, McCoy 2-4, Gdula 1-2.
passing — McGee 18-33-2-223, Austin 0-1-1-0. Findlay, Gervais 11-15-0-149, Bertke 3-9-1-49.
receiving — Kentucky Wesleyan, Dunn 2-82, Haynes 7-56, Beard 3-38, Johnson 3-37, Yates 1-6, Waltermire 2-4. Findlay, Moore 5-45, Boucher 3-77, Ogletree 3-41, Hill 3-35.
Football: Oilers record another big GMAC win
By ANDY WOLF