By ANDY WOLF
Lately, the only thing the University of Findlay football team has been losing is the opening coin toss.
For the fourth straight game, the Oilers lost it but still got deferred to.
They again took the ball first, marched all the way for a score and established control for another lopsided victory — this one a 63-3 rout of Lake Erie on Saturday in Great Midwest Athletic Conference play at Donnell Stadium.
“We lose every coin toss,” UF coach Rob Keys said. “But I’m OK with that. If we win the game, I’ll take the losses on the coin toss.”
Findlay improved to 5-1 overall, 2-0 in the GMAC and have outscored their opponents 226-23 during its four-game win streak. Lake Erie dropped to 1-5, 1-2.
The Storm entered Saturday’s contest having only scored four touchdowns on the season. The Oilers had scored at least four touchdowns in every game this season.
The game unfolded in a similar fashion as UF scored nine touchdowns and all Lake Erie managed was a 41-yard field goal by Mike Muzic.
The Oiler defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the last 13 quarters.
“We’re improving; it definitely says we’re improving on our numbers from last year,” junior defensive back Chewy Chukwuneke said. “There’s always things that we can improve on so we’re not satisfied with three points.
“If you asked anybody on defense, they’re going to tell you they wish we shut them out the last two weeks.”
The Oilers forced five turnovers to one giveaway while outgaining the Storm 471-159 on the night, 290-64 in taking a 41-3 first half edge.
Sophomore Logan Bailey made his first start at right tackle, filling in for the injured Christian Olmstead, and the offensive line didn’t miss a beat.
They helped two backs go over 100 yards and produce a season-high 374 rushing yards. The Oilers have now topped 300 rushing yards three times this season and are averaging 290.5 per game.
Daouda Sylla led all players with a career-high 186 rushing yards and three scores — all the first half. Nate Slagel went for 102 yards and two scores in the fourth quarter and Michael Campbell scored twice with 76 yards.
“The offensive line always shows up,” said Sylla, who posted his fifth 100-yard game of the season. “They’re a committed bunch, watching film and putting in that extra work. They do an amazing job of making us look good when we can always come out here and get two 100-yard backs — that’s amazing on their part.”
Sylla scored on an 11-yard run on the opening series, a 6-yarder later in the first and a 61-yarder in the second quarter to give UF a 34-3 lead.
On his career-best 61-yarder, Sylla turned the corner on Jaden King at midfield and stayed a step ahead of him down the left sidelines.
“After I broke through I saw (wide receiver) Jason Moore on the perimeter,” Sylla said. “Once he got the corner, I knew I had the edge. I just had to trust my speed and get to the end zone.”
Campbell scored on runs of 25 and 5 yards in the third quarter while Slage punched in runs of 8 and 4 yards into the end zone.
The only passing score came from backup Adam Bertke to Jason Moore for 8 yards in the corner of the end zone to put UF up 21-0 with 9:13 left in the first quarter.
Bertke, filling in again for injured starter Rhys Gervais who did dress in full pads, threw for 97 yards (10 of 19) in his second start.
Keys said Gervais “wasn’t ready to play at all” against Walsh (47-3 win) and added he could have gone if he was needed.
“That’s a spot where you want that guy 100 percent and ready to go,” Keys said.
Defensively, the UF secondary caught as many balls from Lake Erie starter James Moore as his teammates did.
Chewy Chukwuneke and Tyler Long recorded the interceptions as Moore finished 2 of 19 for 14 yards.
Chukwuneke got his as Moore tried a deep ball to Antwan Harris. Chukwuneke kept inside position all the way, boxed out Harris and came down with the turnover.
“He released outside, I knew within the first 5-7 yards it was a go route,” Chukwuneke said. “I just did what my coach teaches me to do, the technique, pin him to the sideline, look back for the ball, make a play. I was glad I was able to make the play.”
Javarian Smith took over for Moore in the second half but faced a very prepared UF secondary. He only completed 2 of 8 passes for 19 yards.
UF also got a rare special teams touchdown as Michael Goolsby muffed a punt return at the 30 that led to a host of Oilers putzing the ball backwards into the endzone. Airion Kosak eventually recovered for the score.
Lake Erie 3 0 0 0 — 3
Findlay 28 13 8 14 — 63
Fin — Sylla 11 run (Demler kick)
Fin — Campbell 25 run (Demler kick)
Fin –Moore 8 pass from Bertke (Demler kick)
LE — FG Muzic 40
Fin — Sylla 6 run (Demler kick)
Fin — Sylla 61 run (pass failed)
Fin — Kosak 0 fumble recovery (Demler kick)
Fin — Campbell 5 run (Blakeney run)
Fin — Slagel 8 run (Demler kick)
Fin — Slagel 4 run (Demler kick)
First Downs 13 28
Rushes-yards 44-123 47-374
Passing Yards 33 97
Comp-Att-Int 4-27-2 10-19-0
Punts-Avg. 7-40.3 3-47.3
Fumbles-Lost 4-3 3-1
Penalties-Yards 9-118 7-70
rushing — Lake Erie, Harris 15-48; Swanson 7-42; Moore 9-14; Smith 9-11; Debose 2-11; Hufstetler 1-0; Frederiksen 1-(-3). Findlay, Sylla 18-186; Slagel 11-102; Campbell 11-76; Rettig 4-10; Bertke 3-0.
passing — Lake Erie, Smith 2-8-0–19; Moore, 2-19-2–14. Findlay, Bertke 10-19-0–97.
receiving — Lake Erie, Hufstetler 1-14; Speight 1-11; Eaglin 1-5; Berry 1-3. Findlay, Stuffel 3-30; Boucher 2-28; Moore 3-23; Hill 2-16.