By ANDY WOLF
Quality over quantity.
Only so many opportunities exist for University of Findlay kicker Grant Loveridge.
“Any outside noise you get you can just block out,” Loveridge, a Riverdale grad, said. “It’s just you, the snapper and the holder. You can only control what you can control.”
His focus last Saturday allowed him to kick the go-ahead 37-yard field goal with 1:26 remaining and help the Oilers knock off Alderson Broaddus 45-43.
Loveridge said he’d never been in a situation where his team depended on a late kick of his to “ultimately win the game.”
He felt “100 percent” at anything from the 20-yard line in — ironically, that’s exactly where the ball was hiked from on what turned out to be a career-long make.
“It was weird because people were asking me ‘were you nervous?’” he said. “And really I thought back and I just felt good. I obviously knew the game was on the line but I knew Matt (Reibly) was going to give me a good snap, Pat (Rusher) was going to give me a new hold and the protection was going to be there.”
It was only his sixth field goal attempt over the past two years.
Loveridge is 2 of 3 in each of the past two seasons, sharing kicking duties on and off with sophomore Chris Demler (3 of 4 career).
Loveridge’s only miss this season, a 33-yarder, came one week prior against Charleston,
But he didn’t dwell on it leading up to his big kick against ABU.
“It was unfortunate but it happens,” Loveridge said of the miss. “As a kicker, you’ve got to have a short memory. You just kind of forget about it. (I) came back, had a good week of practice and felt good Friday, felt like I was hitting the ball well Saturday.”
Loveridge’s confidence rose because he previously had made all six extra points against the Battlers to remain perfect at 28 of 28 this season.
The success is a stark contrast from making 12 of 15 PATs in 2017 compared to Demler’s 35 of 38.
Demler, who remains as UF’s kickoff specialist, also has three misses this season (14 of 17), all in the first three weeks.
“Last year, I kind of struggled right off the bat,” Loveridge said. “Having that thought in my head like, I just put a lot of pressure on myself. This year is way more relaxed.
“With the success, I’m more calm and confident because things are going so well.”
After spending the last two games in West Virginia, Findlay (5-3, 3-2 GMAC) returns home to host Walsh (2-5, 2-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Donnell Field in Great Midwest Athletic Conference play.
ABOUT WALSH: Much like the Oilers’ game vs. 2-6 ABU, UF coach Rob Keys says to throw the records out the window.
Walsh has, arguably, played its better football vs. the top three GMAC teams in losses to Tiffin (27-20), Ohio Dominican (20-10) and Hillsdale (28-9).
Walsh trailed 7-6 at halftime before Hillsdale outscored them 21-3 in the second half.
“That two wins is very misleading,” Keys said. “…There’s no doubt that this team is very capable of beating us if we don’t show up and play well.”
RB VERSATILITY: Walsh’s offense goes as its multi-functional sophomore running back Kody Adu-Poku goes.
Adu-Poku averages 116.7 all-purpose yards per game.
He’s the Cavaliers’ leading rusher (70.7 ypg), receiver (25.7 ypg) and kick returner (20.3 return average) plus also their top scorer with six of their 10 total touchdowns.
“He does a really good job of getting the yards they need and being the guy they’re looking to to score touchdowns and make plays,” Keys said. “Offensively, they’re solid, very capable of putting points on the board (14.4 ppg).”
UF sophomore RB Brian Benson (72.7 ypg) is coming off a career-best 161 yards against ABU and is tied with Richard Wilson (63.3 ypg) for the team-lead with nine rushing TDs.
Senior Chauncey Bridges also averages 41.9 ypg.
DEFENSE: While it’s not in the top half of the league standings, Walsh does pose the stingiest defense in the GMAC at 307.3 ypg.
The Cavs allow 23.4 points per game to Findlay’s 27.4.
Walsh hasn’t surrendered 30 points since back-to-back losses to Wayne State (31-0) and Saginaw Valley State (41-10) in Weeks 1 and 2.
Junior defensive lineman Morgan Trust (101/2 TFL, 6.5 sacks) is a force on the league’s second-best run defense (124.4 ypg) and pass rush (19 sacks).
Both totals are second to UF.
Findlay’s sack production (22) is a large result of a Kyle-Cyle tandem.
Kyle Gibson is tied with Trust and Hillsdale’s Zach VanValkenburg for the GMAC lead at 61/2.
Cyle Skidmore has turned in consecutive two-sack efforts and has 51/2 in his senior year.
“I don’t think we can put a measurement on what Cyle Skidmore does for this defense. He’s been a mainstay,” Keys said of his fourth-year starter. “… Kyle Gibson, the same way. he came into his ownl ast year as a true freshman and he’s starting to really get comfortable playing the position.”
NOTES: Corey Crawford, a sophomore reserve offensive linemen for UF last season, will be an honorary captain for the game. The Oilers will wear “No. 56” on their helmets for their teammate who missed the season after being diagnosed with testicular cancer last December. Crawford on Oct. 16 received the news he is currently cancer free.