A 21-point fourth quarter wasn't quite enough for the Hillsdale College football team, as it fell in the 2015 season opener to the University of Findlay 45-34 Saturday night at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium.
The Oilers (1-0 overall, 1-0 GLIAC) scored 14 points in each of the first three quarters, led by pinpoint passing by quarterback Rhys Gervais. A transfer player from Western Illinois, Gervais was 27-of-34 for 364 yards and three touchdown passes, with no interceptions in the game. Two Findlay players – Jason Moore and Dylan Blunk – each had more than 100 receiving yards, while the Oilers outgained the Chargers on the ground 223-143. Findlay also held a 19-minute advantage in time of possession and ran 73 offensive plays, compared to 49 for the Chargers.
Hillsdale found itself in a big hole early in the game. The Oilers took a quick field position advantage, and drove 55 yards in 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead on their first drive of the game. With 1:12 left in the first quarter, Findlay's Johnny Hopkins scooped up a fumble and scored from 17 yards out to make the score 14-0.
Redshirt-freshman tailback Joe Reverman scored his first career touchdown on a two-yard jaunt to get the Chargers on the board 43 seconds into the second quarter. But Findlay put two more touchdowns on the board, sandwiched between a 44-yard field goal by junior kicker Steven Mette, to make the score 28-10 at halftime.
Findlay marched down the field in four plays, covering 76 yards, on the opening drive of the second half to increase its lead to 35-10.
Senior tailback Wade Wood rumbled into the end zone from 12 yards out 36 seconds into the fourth quarter, and Hillsdale's energy level picked up on both sides of the ball from there. Bennett Lewis, who ran for 115 yards on just 14 carries, scored from 19 yards out later in the fourth. Sophomore Taylor Cone caught a perfect pass from quarterback CJ Mifsud to conclude the scoring. It was Cone's second career touchdown reception. Mifsud was 12-for-20 for 225 yards for Hillsdale.
Hillsdale was led defensively by linebacker Scotty Penola, who tallied seven solo tackles, and 10 overall. Jay Rose and Austin Koneval each had five solo stops. True freshmen Dan Shanley (5) and Merrick Canada (6) combined for 11 tackles in the game.
NOTABLE: This was Findlay's first win in Hillsdale since Sept. 4, 2004…This was the second straight meeting between the team in which the winning team scored 40 or more points, and the losing team scored 30 or more points…The Oilers were 9-for-14 on third-down conversions and 2-for-3 on fourth-down conversions…Findlay was whistled for 14 penalties, adding up to 101 yards…Neither team had a punt return yard…Hillsdale held the ball for 12:26 of the 15 minutes in the fourth quarter…Reverman caught a 71-yard pass from Mifsud, providing a highlight in his first collegiate game.