Football Finishes Strong With 54-0 Win Over Lake Erie

The Charger defense recorded its third shutout of the season in Saturday's win at Lake Erie. Photo by Carly Gouge
The Charger defense recorded its third shutout of the season in Saturday's win at Lake Erie. Photo by Carly Gouge

Box Score

That's how you end a season.

The Hillsdale College football team performed efficiently on both sides of the ball in its 2017 season finale, shutting out Lake Erie College 54-0 at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium in Painesville, Ohio Saturday afternoon.

The win concludes Hillsdale's season with an overall record of 7-4, and 5-2 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. The 7-4 record is the Chargers' best since the 2012 season.

While the win was the ideal way for the program to send out a beloved and accomplished senior class, it was a sophomore who enjoyed his best day as a Charger to lead his team to victory.

Tailback David Graham ran wild all day, setting a career-high with 167 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. He also scored on a 53-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Steven Ficyk, giving him five total touchdowns and 220 total yards on the day. Graham eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing barrier in the win, and broke his single-game career-high for rushing yards for the second consecutive game.

Graham averaged 12.8 yards per carry, getting his 167 yards on just 13 attempts. He ran behind an offensive line that collectively, played its best football over the season's final month. Seniors Zach Vanorman, Jake Bull and Danny Drummond suited up for the final time in this game, and they were rewarded with a dominant performance from the Charger rushing attack.

Hillsdale gained 244 yards rushing in the win, which helped it to an 11-minute edge in time of possession. The Chargers quadrupled Lake Erie's first down total (28-7), a margin that is somewhat deceiving, because nearly half of Lake Erie's first downs came via Hillsdale penalties (3).

Hillsdale outgained Lake Erie 554-89 in the win.

On the other side of the football, the defense recorded its third shutout of the season, the first time that's happened since 1995. The Chargers smothered the Storm in all aspects of the game, limiting Lake Erie to just 89 yards of total offense and 16 net yards rushing on 29 attempts. That's an average of 0.6 yards per attempt.

Ten different players recorded tackles-for-loss in the game, led by three each from senior Spencer Nehls and sophomore Elliot Laisure. Nehls also played in his final collegiate contest and made the most of it, picking up 6 total tackles.

Nate Jones, Zach VanValkenburg, Laisure and Casey Schukow all recorded sacks. Merrick Canada had 2 ½ tackles-for-loss in another impactful performance, and sophomore linebacker Dan Shanley led the unit with 9 total tackles in the victory.

Junior quarterback Chance Stewart played just 2 ½ quarters, but was 14-for-19 for 146 yards. Seniors Timmy Mills and Paul Galloway led the team with 5 receptions each, while junior Trey Brock wrapped up his campaign with 3 catches for 22 yards in extremely limited duty.

Freshman Konnor Maloney, one of the offense's most exciting prospects, caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from Ficyk. Ficyk went 5-for-6 for 164 yards and two touchdowns for Hillsdale.