Football Set to Face Defending National Champs in Division II Showcase Game of the Week

Photo By: Zoie Fisher
Photo By: Zoie Fisher


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Fresh off a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the season opener, the Ohio Dominican football team turns its attention to the nation's top-ranked team and defending national champions, Valdosta State, this  weekend.

The (RV) Panthers (1-0) and No. 1 Blazers (1-0) are slated for a 6:05 p.m. kickoff, Saturday, Sept. 14, in the NCAA Division II National Showcase Game of the Week. Video streaming for this week's contest will be available via ESPN3, while Todd Bell and Matt Natali will still have an audio feed available on Panthers Radio.

Ohio Dominican erased an early 14-point deficit at Shepherd last Saturday, Sept. 7, to defeat the Rams, 24-21. The Panthers have won back-to-back season openers for the first time since a stretch of five straight from 2011-2015 and will be searching for their second straight 2-0 start this weekend.

Despite being outgained by over 100 yards against Shepherd, ODU's defense forced four turnovers, including a fumble with 2:37 remaining. Sophomore Evan Ernst (Mason, Ohio) then led the offense down the shortened field, finding junior Devanaire Conliffe (Willoughby, Ohio) for a three-yard touchdown with 67 seconds left to play.

Ernst completed 31-of-39 passes for 273 yards and two scores. Conliffe caught both touchdown passes, finishing with three catches for 96 yards, including a career-long 77-yard reception. Senior David Turner (Fort Wayne, Ind.) added 10 catches for 61 yards.

Defensively, junior Dauson Dales (Defiance, Ohio) recorded eight solo and two assisted tackles to lead the defense. Dales was also in on the final forced and recovered fumble by the Panther defense. Senior Gus Dimmerling (Perrysburg, Ohio) added eight stops and a fumble recovery, while classmate Chris Green (Toledo, Ohio) and junior Jayden Davis (Springfield, Ohio) added seven tackles each.

Sophomore kicker Kevin Laming (Powell, Ohio) was named Great Midwest Player of the Week after nailing all three point-after tries, as well as a 33-yard field goal. Laming also averaged 62.8 yards on his five kickoffs.

Valdosta State enters Saturday with the nation's longest winning streak, 16 games, after defeating Albany State in head coach Gary Goff's program debut last Saturday, 38-3. The Blazers are coming off their program's fourth national championship last season, riding one of Division II's top offenses to the title. Valdosta State averaged a nation-best 52.0 points per game, while also ranking in the top five in total offense, 523.9 yards per outing.

Valdosta State will also be accepting donations to aid the victims of the hurricane in Bahamas. More information can be found in the flyer link above. 

Contact: Tyler Jester