Story and photo courtesy of Ohio Dominican Athletics
PAINESVILLE, Ohio – For a fourth straight game, Ohio Dominican's football team roared to a strong second half close as the Panthers pulled away from Lake Erie to take a 44-14 victory in GLIAC play Saturday.
The Panthers pitched a shutout in the second half, outscoring Lake Erie 23-0 after intermission in winning a fourth straight game. ODU improved to 7-3 (6-3 GLIAC), while the Storm fell to 3-7 (3-6).
ODU outgained Lake Erie 448-306 in the contest, rushing for 291 yards on the day. Senior running back Mark Nichols (Pataskala, Ohio) had a career-day, tallying 212 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. He averaged 8.2 yards per carry in finishing with the third-best rushing day in school annals.
Freshman running back Brandon Schoen (Olentangy, Ohio) ran for 50 yards and a score, while sophomore quarterback Mark Miller (Cincinnati, Ohio) completed 12-of-18 passes for 157 yards and ran for two touchdowns.
Sophomore linebacker Nikko Tanksley (Columbus, Ohio) had a career-day with 11 tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss, while freshman Di'Andre Harrison (Columbus, Ohio) also registered a career-high with nine tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. Freshman Brad McCurdy (Columbus, Ohio) had eight stops and junior Justin Bell (Columbus, Ohio) tallied eight tackles with an interception.
The Panther defense finished with five sacks, tied for third in school history, and had eight tackles for loss. ODU held the Storm to just 65 rushing yards on 32 carries.
ODU started its opening drive on its own 20 and quickly moved down the field, with Nichols running for 31 yards to the Storm 36. On the next play, Schoen took a handoff on a draw and ran untouched around the right side for the touchdown, giving ODU a 7-0 lead five minutes into the contest.
The Panthers then took over their next drive on their own 46 and marched downfield in 11 plays, converting three third downs on the drive. Facing third-and-short on the three, Miller faked a handoff and kept it himself for the TD, putting ODU on top 14-0 with 1:22 to play in the first.
Lake Erie cut the lead to 14-7 after an interception and short touchdown drive early in the second, and after another Panther turnover, Lake Erie moved into ODU territory again. The Panther defense held, though, forcing a field goal attempt that freshman Ben Copher (Dayton, Ohio) blocked and freshman Billy Eakins (Pickerington, Ohio) scooped at the 32, racing untouched to the end zone to give ODU a 21-7 lead at the 4:35 mark.
Lake Erie answered with a lengthy drive on its ensuing possession, though, going 71 yards in 11 plays and scoring a TD with 13 seconds left on the clock on a 15-yard pass. That cut the Panther lead to 21-14 at the break.
Both teams swapped punts to start the third frame, and on ODU's second drive, Nichols danced, weaved and spun his way for a 46-yard run to the Storm nine-yard line. Two plays later, Miller scored his second TD of the day with a keeper from one yard out to give ODU a 28-14 lead with 6:23 to play in the third.
After a Storm punt, ODU was pinned inside its five yard. From deep in his end zone, Miller found freshman Dez Stewart (Cincinnati, Ohio) on a fly pattern for 41 yards, then connected with sophomore Casey Williams (Nashport, Ohio) for a 38 yard gain to the four. Nichols powered his way into the end zone on the next play, giving ODU a 35-14 lead moments into the fourth quarter.
Freshman Brent Wahle (Pataskala, Ohio) kicked a 25-yard field goal, and sophomore Tyrone Patel (Cincinnati, Ohio) intercepted a screen pass and returned it 19 yards for his first career touchdown to cap the scoring for ODU.
The 291 rushing yards by the Panthers was the sixth-best total in school history, and the defense held an opponent under 100 yards rushing for a fifth time this season.
Ohio Dominican wraps up the 2012 regular season with a 1 p.m. kickoff against GLIAC newcomer Malone at Panther Field next Saturday.