Sat, Apr 24, 2021
Tiffin, Ohio – The University of Findlay football team traveled east to take on the Tiffin University Dragons in a winner-take-all contest for the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) Championship on Saturday, April 24. The Oilers fell behind early and could not mount a comeback, falling by a score of 23-8 in the title game. With the loss, Findlay ends their season at 4-2 in the abbreviated spring campaign while the Dragons, who claimed their second consecutive conference crown, finish the year a perfect 6-0. It is the first time in the series history that Tiffin has beaten the Oilers in consecutive seasons and is the third time in four years that Findlay has come up one win shy of the elusive conference championship.
Earlier in the day in Columbus, Ohio, Hillsdale and Ohio Dominican matched up in a significant G-MAC contest. Hillsdale knocked off the Panthers by a score of 35-28 which gave ODU a record of 4-2 on the year which meant regardless of the outcome in Tiffin, there would be no co-champions this season. That game set the stage for a true, winner-take-all conference championship contest between the Oilers and Dragons on Saturday night. Tension was high as the 7 o’clock contest kicked off, both teams knowing full well what was at stake, which, for the Oilers, was a chance at their first conference title since 1997.
Tiffin received the opening kickoff and had the first possession of the game. The G-MAC’s most potent offense in terms of yardage went to work immediately, driving 77 yards in eight plays for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
After a three-and-out by the Findlay offense, Tiffin again went on a lengthy drive, this time nine plays for 75 yards, but a fumble by the Dragons running back was recovered by senior Drew McLuckie which sparked the Oilers’ sideline.
However, the next two offensive possessions came up empty and with 6:40 remaining in the half, Tiffin added a field goal to take a 10-0 lead.
The Dragons defense, which came into the contest leading the league in yards allowed per game, forced a three-and-out by Findlay and a touchdown on the Dragons next series made it 17-0.
A field goal with 12 seconds on the clock put the Oilers down 20-0 at the break. In that first half, Findlay struggled to the tune of 71 yards and just one first down while the Dragons, which relied on an aerial attack, put up a gaudy 331 yards of offense.
Out of the break, the Oilers had an inspired first possession and used a heavy dose of the ground game to spark a 12 play, 71 yard drive that was capped by a two-yard touchdown run from freshman Garret Clark. On the drive, Clark rushed four times for 22 yards. A missed extra-point made the score 20-6.
Findlay’s defense, needing a stand, did its job and forced a punt from the Tiffin 39 yard line. On the punt, the snap sailed over the Dragons’ punter who had to chase down the loose ball and throw it out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The play made the score 20-8 and switched the momentum in favor of the Oilers.
Getting the ball back after the safety, Findlay managed just three yards on the next possession, punting the ball back to the Dragons who then drove 68 yards on 14 plays that ended with a field goal, increasing the lead to 23-8. Although just three points, the swing took some air out of the Oilers’ sails and the race against the clock began.
The Oilers next possession went for just eight yards and, after a defensive stand, Findlay drove 81 yards to inside the Dragons’ five yard line but were stopped on fourth down, giving the ball back to the Dragons who took the victory formation and melted the clock away en route to the G-MAC Championship.
Tiffin controlled the game as they had the ball for more than 36 minutes compared to just under 23 minutes of possession for Findlay. The Dragons outgained the Oilers 469-to-243, most of which came through the air where quarterback Nick Watson threw for 291 yards and two scores.
On Findlay’s side, quarterback Matt Winzeler, facing a stout Tiffin defense, completed 13-of-28 passes for just 128 yards and one interception. Sophomore Tanner Schroeder made three catches for 43 yards while senior Marlin Richardson had three catches for 36 yards and junior Austin Watt had four receptions for 34 yards.
Freshman Garret Clark was the Oilers’ top back as he had a team-high 13 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown, the lone TD of the game for Findlay. Senior Brian Benson had just seven carries for 40 yards.
Defensively, freshman John Harris had a team-high ten tackles including a half tackle-for-loss and one pass breakup. Sophomore Uriah Schwemley had eight stops while senior Austin Hamley and senior Jack Trombetti each had seven tackles.
Findlay finishes the season with a 4-2 record and a runner-up finish in the conference standings and has put together their ninth winning season in ten years under coach Rob Keys. The layoff this year will be a short one as the 2021 fall campaign kicks off in just 131 days when the Oilers will host Ferris State in Donnell Stadium on Thursday, September 2.
COURTESY FINDLAY ATHLETICS