PAINESVILLE, Ohio – Playing on a snow-covered field did not slow down Ohio Dominican's football team from racing to a 62-6 victory over Lake Erie to close out the regular season and keep ODU's playoff hopes alive.
ODU, ranked No. 9 in Super Region One, improved to 9-2, and saw teams ranked No. 4, 5, 7, and 8 all lose on a wild Saturday in the region. The selection show will air at 5 p.m. Sunday on www.ncaa.com.
The Panthers, who put the game away with a 35-point second quarter, have now won at least nine games four times in the program's 15 seasons.
Senior Cory Contini (Dover, Ohio) moved atop another ODU all-time list as his 40 yard touchdown catch six minutes into play moved him into first place on the receiving yards list. He now has 3,239 yards in his career.
Senior Ross Thompson (Delphos, Ohio) was credited with 11 tackles, giving him 110 on the season, which is a new single-season record for ODU. He's just the third different Panther to record at least 100 tackles in a season. He also moved into a tie with Justin Bell for the most tackles in program history with 294.
ODU's defense, which had four takeaways and returned two of them for scores, recorded six sacks, tied for the second-most in a game in school history. It's the 12th time in school history the defense has allowed six points or fewer as well.
Freshman quarterback Evan Ernst (Mason, Ohio) found senior tight end Wyatt McLeod (Myakka City, Fla.) for a 53 yard TD on the game's first possession, then hit Contini on the 40 yard score on ODU's next drive to make it 14-0.
Moments into the second quarter, Ernst found sophomore Devanaire Conliffe (Willoughby, Ohio) on a 10 yard TD to make it 21-0. On Lake Erie's ensuing possession, a sack by senior Nick Isaacs (Cincinnati, Ohio) resulted in a fumble that was scooped up by freshman Chase Axelrod (Eastlake, Ohio) and returned 20 yards for a TD, making it 28-0.
Freshman Julian Linkhart (Beavercreek, Ohio) then intercepted a pass on LEC's next drive, and junior David Turner (Fort Wayne, Ind.) scored on a one yard TD, extending the lead to 35-0 with 9:14 to play in the quarter.
Junior Jalen M. Christian (Dayton, Ohio) then returned an interception 25 yards for another score, and sophomore Fred Pitts (Huber Heights, Ohio) ran in a 20 yard TD to make it 49-0 with 6:05 to play in the period.
Freshman Malik Moore (Toledo, Ohio) capped the scoring in the fourth quarter with a pair of long touchdown runs, the first spanning 66 yards and the second covering 23 yards, to close out the game.
ODU rushed for 262 yards on 36 carries, averaging 7.3 yards per pop, while holding LEC to 120 yards on 41 attempts (2.9 yards per carry.) The Panthers also threw for 151 yards on just 14 attempts, with Ernst finishing 9-of-10 for 144 yards and four scores in one half of action while also rushing for 30 yards.
Pitts compiled his first 100-yard game, tallying 116 yards on 15 carries, and Moore ran for 92 yards on just four carries. McLeod led the receiving corps with 61 yards while Contini added 57 on two grabs.
Isaacs finished with two sacks, as did sophomore Chance Canady (Columbus, Ohio), while a trio of Panthers had six tackles in senior Tawain Gordon (Columbus, Ohio), Dauson Dales (Defiance, Ohio) and Jayden Davis (Springfield, Ohio).
Dales also blocked an extra point, while freshman Ashton Gilkey (Westerville, Ohio) recorded an interception as well.
Contact: Scott Miles