By ANDY WOLF
Christian Olmstead is the only senior on the University of Findlay football team’s offensive line.
Like any of his four fellow starters, though, the Oilers take pride in running the ball.
They had plenty to be proud of Saturday as 457 of their 685 offensive yards came on the ground in running over Malone 63-17 on senior day at Donnell Stadium.
“It’s a showing of what we can really do when we’re clicking on all cylinders,” Olmstead said. “Regardless of who we’re playing, when we’re firing on all cylinders, there’s no one who can stop us.”
Olmstead was one of 20 seniors honored in pregame.
Findlay improved to 7-3 overall, 5-2 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Malone fell to 2-7, 1-6.
Olmstead made his 33rd career start at right tackle and helped pave the way for 312 first-half rushing yards.
UF sophomore Brian Benson torched Malone for 211 of his 213 yards and all four touchdowns in the first half.
His day was done after two second-half carries for 0 net yards early in the third quarter with UF leading 42-10.
Chauncey Bridges added 134 yards on nine carries and a 3-yard run midway through the third quarter.
“Credit goes to everybody involved in the offense, the playcalling all the way down to the execution,” UF coach Rob Keys said.
Benson is just 47 yards away from 1,000 on the season after putting up back-to-back 200-yard efforts (233 last week). He has 605 yards and 10 TDs in his last three games.
Bridges recorded his first 100-yard game since Week 1 of 2017.
The Oilers entered Saturday’s game with the league’s best ground attack at 238.7 yards per game.
They surpassed that total in four drives (263) — all ending in Benson touchdown runs of 14, 1, 3 and 11 yards.
Benson broke free off the right side past an Olmstead block on his first scoring run.
“Coaches called a good play, we executed up front,” Olmstead said. “…We adjusted on the fly between the offensive line and the fullbacks. (Malone) had a good plan but we just executed better.”
Malone struck first, however, marching 61 yards in 7 plays capped by Matt Blasiole’s 2-yard run.
Keys tried an unsuccessful onside kick to start and, most importantly, keep the ball out of the hands of Malone’s Ashton Dulin.
He repeatedly orchestrated short squib kicks to midfield and away from Dulin, the Division II leader at three kick return TDs, who had no returns in the first half.
“Especially because I felt the defense could stop (Malone),” Keys said of sacrificing field position.
Malone’s Marcus Moeller missed a 41-yard field goal but made a 21-yard field goal on consecutive drives to pull the Pioneers within 14-10 with 1:11 left in the first quarter.
However, the Oilers scored the next 49 points.
After Benson’s four scores, Adam Bertke threw touchdown passes to Drew Ogletree (10 yards) and Luke Stuffel (39 yards) at the end of the second and the beginning of the third quarter.
Richard Wilson added a 7-yard run in the third before Bridges tacked on his scoring run just 1:12 later.
Findlay’s final touchdown came via Kyle Gibson’s fumble recovery in the end zone.
The Oilers came away with four takeaways and three fumble recoveries.
Freshman defensive back Christopher Jefferson recorded his first career interception and fumble recovery while Francis Cutchember also recovered a fumble.
Malone gained 161 of its yards in the first quarter.
But UF tightened up in the second frame, allowing only 15 yards.
“No. 1, when you’re playing an option team, you have to be assignment sound,” Keys said. “If you aren’t you have the ability to give up big plays.
“Once (the defensive coaching staff) made the adjustments we did a really good job of settling in and stopping them.”
Malone 10 0 0 7 — 17
Findlay 14 21 21 7 — 63
MAL — Blasiole 2 run (Moeller kick)
UF — Benson 14 run (Loveridge kick)
UF — Benson 1 run (Loveridge kick)
MAL — Moeller 21 FG
UF — Benson 3 run (Loveridge kick)
UF — Benson 11 run (Loveridge kick)
UF — Ogletree 10 pass from Bertke (Loveridge kick)
UF — Stuffel 39 pass from Bertke (Loveridge kick)
UF — Wilson 7 run (Loveridge kick)
UF — Bridges 3 run (Loveridge kick)
UF — Gibson 0 fumble recovery (Loveridge kick)
MAL — Garland 1 run (Moeller kick)
First Downs 14 36
Rushes-yards 39-203 57-457
Passing Yards 104 228
Comp-Att-Int 14-27-1 16-20-0
Punts-Avg. 3-39.7 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 1-1
Penalties-Yards 3-15 4-25
rushing — Malone, Singleton 5-60, Garland 6-58, Blasiole 13-37, Stephens-Peppers 1-31, Clayton 7-24, Bunnell 3-11, Hobbs 2-7, team 2-(minus-25). Findlay, Benson 24-211, Bridges 9-134, Slagel 4-39, Mitchell 8-28, Bertke 5-23, Blanks 2-15, Wilson 2-8, Gdula 1-0, Boucher 1-0, team 1-(minus-1).
passing — Malone, Clayton 8-20-1-66, Bunnell 6-7-0-38. Findlay, Bertke 15-19-0-226, Gdula 1-1-0-2.
receiving — Malone, Dulin 6-78, Stephens-Peppers 4-10, Escalle 1-9, Jackson 1-7, Gorby 1-1, Curry 1-(minus-1). Findlay, Moore 7-125, Stuffel 1-39, Hill 3-31, Allton 1-14, Ogletree 1-10, Boucher 1-7, Reeves 1-0, Bridges 1-0.