By ANDY WOLF
PHILIPPI, W. Va. — The Oilers barely outbattled the Battlers.
The University of Findlay football team overcame a disastrous fourth quarter to prevail 45-43 over Alderson Broaddus and earn a Great Midwest Athletic Conference victory.
“After any game you’re happy with a win,” UF coach Rob Keys said. “There’s some things that aren’t going to set real well with the players and the staff but all in all, (ABU) is a much improved team.
“To get a win at their place is tough because they have a very good reputation of playing good at home.”
Riverdale grad Grant Loveridge drilled a go-ahead 37-yard field goal with 1:26 remaining.
It was just the sixth field goal attempt of the year for UF, third for Loveridge.
Keys opted for Loveridge (1-2) over Chris Demler (2-3) even with Loveridge missing a 33-yarder last week.
“The reason why we went with Grant is he’s been more consistent over the last three weeks,” Keys said. “He’s been better in practice, better in games. I felt comfortable putting him out there.”
The Oilers (5-3, 3-2 GMAC) couldn’t breathe a final sigh of relief until Joe Czelusniak’s pass sailed way out of bounds on fourth-and-4 at the UF 34.
ABU took over at its own 46 as Keys wanted no part in kicking to Maurice Thomas (11 catches, 161 yards) — who had returned two kicks 89 yards for touchdowns in the past two weeks.
Findlay posted its highest yardage total since the season opener (661) by outgaining ABU 590-529. The Battlers ran 91 plays to the Oilers’ 68.
UF sophomore Brian Benson ran for a career-high 161 yards and three touchdowns. Chauncey Bridges added 85 yards on 14 carries.
Benson busted off a 71-yard score in the first half, broke another for 59 yards in the third quarter before adding a 2-yard plunge to give UF its biggest lead at 42-27.
“The thing about Brian, the runs he made today, there aren’t too many backs who could’ve made those runs,” Keys said.
Eventual fourth-quarter miscues by the Oilers in all three phases squandered it in a flash.
After the Oilers got a goal-line stand at the 1, Adam Bertke threw a 5-yard pick-6 to Quade Raley on third down.
UF’s next drive ended in a blocked punt which ended up going out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
ABU kept the momentum going by driving 70 yards in three plays capped by Czelusniak’s 16-yard pass to Micah Hills.
“The thing that’s bad about it is because it’s not us,” Keys said. “In the past when we have a two touchdown lead and the ball, half the time we’ve been able to put teams away, get a couple first downs, rely on the running game.”
Findlay appeared to be on the verge of taking the lead even sooner but committed its fifth turnover on a fumbled handoff between Adam Bertke and Chauncey Bridges in the red zone.
Bertke threw for 374 yards and two scores, ran for another 2-yard touchdown but also threw three interceptions.
Benson also lost a fumble in the first half.
Senior standout wide receiver Jason Moore made a big splash for his season debut.
He turned in nine catches for a school-record 220 yards and one touchdown.
Moore not only broke Lloyd Henry’s single-game receiving mark of 202 yards (2014), but needed four catches to pass Henry (177, 2011-14) for first place on UF’s all-time reception list.
“He was what we expected,” Keys said of UF’s all-time leading receiver. “We know how good Jason Moore is and we’ve been patiently waiting to get him back on the field and making plays when he’s called upon.”
Nate Slagel’s 28-yard touchdown catch pass from Bertke came 25 seconds after Bertke’s touchdown run to quickly erase ABU’s 14-0 deficit.
Chewy Chukwuneke’s forced fumble and recovery set up the Slagel score.
UF’s Michael Campbell made his first career interception while Cyle Skidmore and Tyler Long also forced fumbles.
Findlay 14 14 14 3 — 45
Alderson Broaddus 14 13 0 16 — 43
ABU — Lake 52 pass from Czelusniak (Hampton kick)
ABU — Lake 30 pass from Czelusniak (Hampton kick)
UF — Bertke 2 run (Loveridge kick)
UF — Slagel 28 pass from Bertke (Loveridge kick)
ABU — Hampton 27 FG
UF — Benson 71 run (Loveridge kick)
ABU — Collison-Cofie 6 run (Hampton kick)
UF — Moore 5 pass from Bertke (Loveridge kick)
ABU — Hampton 24 FG
UF — Benson 59 run (Loveridge kick)
UF — Benson 2 run (Loveridge kick)
ABU — Raley 6 interception return (Hampton kick)
ABU — Team safety
ABU — Hills 16 pass from Czelusniak (Hampton kick)
UF — Loveridge 37 FG
First Downs 23 30
Rushes-yards 35-216 51-178
Passing Yards 374 351
Comp-Att-Int 19-33-3 23-40-1
Punts-Avg. 1-41 3-83
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 5-2
Penalties-Yards 6-64 5-45
rushing — Findlay, Benson 12-161, Bridges 14-85, Wilson 2-2, Bertke 3-(minus-3), Hill 1-(minus-3), team 3-(minus-26). Alderson Broaddus, Collison-Cofie 23-91, Jackson 10-26, Thomas 3-24, Czelusniak 11-23, Bishop 2-16, Lake 1-1, Hills 1-(minus-1).
passing — Findlay, Bertke 19-33-374-3. Alderson Broaddus, Czelusniak 23-40-351.
receiving — Findlay, Moore 9-224, Ogletree 3-68, Slagel 1-28, Stuffel 1-23, Norris 1-16, Allton 2-10, Hill 1-6, Benson 1-(minus-1). Alderson Broaddus, Thomas 11-161, Lake 4-113, Hills 2-24, Waugh 2-22, Ball 2-20, Jackson 1-14, Collison-Cofie 1-(minus-3).