Fast Start Carries Football As Panthers Blow Past Lake Erie, 51-0

By Chad Ellis
By Chad Ellis

COLUMBUS, Ohio – On an unseasonably warm fall night, Ohio Dominican's football team posted its first shutout since 2013 while racking up 640 yards of total offense as the Panthers blew past Lake Erie 51-0 in the program's first G-MAC game Saturday night.

The Panthers (1-3, 1-0 G-MAC) surpassed 600 yards of offense for the first time since 2013 as well (727 in a win over Lake Erie), and it was the first shutout for ODU since blanking Tiffin 18-0 in 2013. That's the sixth most yards in a game in school history and the seventh shutout in program history as well.

Senior quarterback Grant Russell (Newark, Ohio) continued his torrid start to the fall, completing 24-of-31 throws for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Cory Contini (Dover, Ohio) led the receivers with 11 grabs for 121 yards – including an acrobatic 27 yard reception over top of a defender – with two touchdowns, the second of which saw him tap his toes in bounds at the back pylon.

Senior Brandon Schoen (Lewis Center, Ohio) cracked the century mark on the ground for the first time since Nov. 22, 2014 in the playoffs against Colorado School of Mines, as he registered 126 yards and two scores on just 16 carries in a little over two quarters of work. It was the 17th career 100-yard rushing game.

The defense also sparkled, holding the Storm (0-4, 0-1 G-MAC) to 327 yards and just 4.3 yards per play. Senior Tre McIntyre (North Lewisburg, Ohio) led the way with 11 tackles (seven solo) while busting up two passes. Freshman Shyoun Petteway (Steubenville, Ohio) made his first start and picked off a pass while totaling nine tackles. Junior Ryan Sayers (Austintown, Ohio) finished with six tackles (2.0 TFL) as well.

ODU also received another solid effort from freshman punter Logen Neidhardt (Hicksville, Ohio) as he averaged 41.7 yards on three punts, placing two inside the 20 – including a punt downed at the one for the second straight week.

That led to ODU's first points of the game, as freshman Aarin Smoot-Baker (Columbus, Ohio) tackled a Lake Erie ball carrier in the end zone for a safety three minutes into the game – ODU's first safety since 2013 as well. Following the free kick, Russell connected with sophomore Cedric Washington (Knoxville, Tenn.) on a 39 yard pass, setting up a 12 yard touchdown pass to junior Wyatt McLeod (Myakka City, Fla.) to make it 9-0 five minutes into play. It was McLeod's first career touchdown catch.

Later in the quarter, Petteway soared in the air and picked off a pass at the Lake Erie 37, and Schoen plunged in from the one yard line nine plays later to help extend the lead to 17-0 after a two-point conversion run by senior Austin Ernst (Cincinnati, Ohio).

ODU took solely to the air on its next scoring drive as Russell completed 5-of-6 throws for 71 yards, capped by a five yard touchdown toss to Contini, bumping the lead to 23-0 early in the second quarter.

After a Storm three-and-out, the Panthers went on an 11 play, 83 yard drive, capped by the first collegiate touchdown catch by freshman Devanaire Conliffe (Willoughby, Ohio), a seven yard reception on a stop route in the end zone, to make it 30-0 midway through the second quarter.

The score remained that way at the half as the defense came up with a stop at the goal line as time expired to end the opening 30 minutes.

Schoen took care of ODU's opening drive in the third quarter, rambling 29 yards on the first play, and three runs later sprinted in to the end zone from 24 yards out. He ran for all 66 yards on the drive on four carries to put ODU on top 37-0 two minutes into the half.

Later in the quarter, Russell found Contini on an 11 yard score in which he was pushed out of bounds on the route by a defender, came back in and made the catch at the back pylon.

ODU's final score of the game came with two minutes left in the contest as Ernst hooked up with Conliffe on a six yard slant route in the end zone.

The Panthers racked up 35 first downs in the contest, their most in the last 10 games. Russell matched his career high in touchdown passes and has now thrown for 1,315 yards, 11 scores and no picks through the first four weeks while completing 73.2 percent of his throws.

Ohio Dominican takes to the road for a 7:30 p.m. contest at Malone next Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

Contact: Scott Miles