By BRIAN LESTER
It is so hard to believe the football season ends this week for the University of Findlay. It’s as if you blink and it’s over.
So for one last time in 2012, I’ll take a look at the Oilers’ opponent. This week, it’s Walsh, which hosts UF at noon Saturday at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
Inside the Opponent
Head Coach: Jim Dennison is in his 18th year of coaching the Cavaliers and owns a record of 119-76.
Record: Walsh is 3-7 overall and 2-7 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Last Week: The Cavaliers lost in gut-wrenching fashion for the second consecutive week, falling 31-28 to Notre Dame College on a last-second Hail Mary pass.
The Cavaliers led 21-3 at the half but couldn’t hold on against the Falcons. Walsh was beaten 27-20 in overtime by Lake Erie two weeks ago.
Jack Dawson completed 8 of his 14 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown while Steve Smith rushed for 109 yards and a score. Daryl Gary caught four passes for 89 yards and a TD.
WU finished with 278 yards and went 2-for-2 in the red zone.
Pierre Raymond led the defense with 13 tackles and Cameron Trudell tallied 12 tackles. The Cavaliers gave up 442 yards, forced three turnovers and racked up three sacks.
Quick Stats: WU is averaging 274.3 yards per game and allowing 348.5 yards per outing. The Cavaliers have turned the ball over 13 times and have forced 19 turnovers. WU is 37 percent on third down this season and is 16-of-21 in the red zone. The Cavaliers have racked up 31 sacks and have only allowed 17 sacks.
Pressure Point: Quarterback Jack Dawson is going to have perform well for the Cavaliers to have a shot against the Oilers. Dawson is 65-of-142 or 959 yards and five TDs. He has been picked off five times as well.
The Oilers need to be able to get pressure on him early, especially when the senior signal caller is playing behind an offensive line that has been hit hard by injuries.
Star Power: Running back Toba Olarewaju has been the anchor of the offense this season. The senior has rushed for 773 yards and nine TDs despite the fact that he is currently playing with a broken hand.
If the Cavaliers can establish a good running attack behind Olarewaju, they will have a chance to hang around against UF.
Dennison is one win away from his 200th win at the college level. So he is used to winning football games. But unlike past seasons, the veteran coach is dealing with something new in his career.
“I’ve been coaching a long time and we’re dealing with something that hasn’t been a problem in the past, and that is losing close games. We’re used to winning those games,” Dennison said. “We’ve played a lot of teams tough, but crazy things have happened.”
The last two weeks highlight the tough breaks the Cavaliers have had to deal with. NDC beat WU on a last-second TD pass and in the game against LEC, it allowed the Storm to put together a 93-yard drive that set up a game-tying field goal to force OT.
“We probably should have won the last two games,” Dennison said. “We knew it was going to be tough in this conference, but I will say that our players have competed hard and we always come out ready to play.”
In addition to Olarewaju in the backfield, the Cavaliers have also gotten production from Steve Smith and Justin Keith. Smith has rushed for 375 yards and a TD while Keith has churned out 210 yards and a score.
Anthony Schrock has led the receivers with 31 catches for 586 yards and three scores while Gary has come up with 21 catches for 326 yards. He has scored three times. Both receivers are only sophomores.
Walsh is averaging 159.4 yards per game on the ground and 114.9 through the air.
Sir Taylor has anchored the defense with 102 tackles. The senior defensive back has also picked off one pass.
Trudell has racked up 76 tackles out of the linebacker spot and linebacker Cory Farcas has tallied 61 tackles
Linebacker Maurice Jones (57 tackles), defensive back Jamaris Brown (55 tackles, 2 interceptions) and linebacker Chad Phillis (52 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and five sacks) have also played key roles on the defense.
“Our strength is our defense,” Dennison said. “We have doing well on that side of the ball and they have kept us in a lot of games.”
As for taking on the Oilers, one of his biggest concerns is running back Monterae Williams, who has rushed for more than 4,400 yards in his career.
“He is a very good running back,” Dennison said. “I don’t think we are going to be able to stop him, but I do hope we can slow him down a little bit. Findlay has a very good football team, but our guys will be ready. We will play hard and see what happens.”
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