By ANDY WOLF
Back to work.
The University of Findlay football team has no time to mull over a controversial and stunning 20-17 loss to Hillsdale last week.
The Oilers’ fate was sealed when the officials ruled quarterback Adam Bertke fumbled on his goal-line lunge with less than 10 seconds to play.
Whether Bertke’s knee was down or the ball broke the plane doesn’t matter anymore.
Findlay (3-3) has to hit the road this week to take on the University of Charleston (4-2) in nonleague play at noon on Saturday.
“Of course, it hit everybody hard when it first happened,” junior defensive lineman Justin Ellis said of the defeat. “…We’re not about to sit on this loss.”
The Golden Eagles play out of the Mountain East Conference as an in-region opponent.
Saturday’s contest expects to be a battle of stout defensive lines.
While Charleston has carried a solid defensive reputation for years, Findlay’s defensive rep was not too hot not so long ago.
Ellis has seen first-hand the quality of UF’s front four improve heavily since his freshman year.
“Coach (Darius) Davis, he’s done a tremendous job of getting his D-line set to where he needed it to be,” Ellis said. “It was undisciplined when he first got here.”
Ellis has already matched his career high of seven tackles for loss and is one tackle shy of his career-best 16 tackles.
Since being utilized as a third-down rusher as a freshman (7 sacks), he’s emerged as an every-down talent that can play inside or out.
But it’s been a work in progress.
Ellis mostly played linebacker at Cleveland John Hay.
UF head coach Rob Keys stuck him at defensive line because of his hard play and relentlessness in getting off the ball.
“When I started training and working on my body positioning, steps, everything just fell right into place,” Ellis said.
Ellis also hit the weight room hard. He entered UF 216 pounds and now checks in at 274.
“At the point of attack, he is tough to move,” Keys said.
Keys noted Ellis only having an “OK” sophomore year in terms of progress.
Ellis seconded it.
“This year, I really focused on knowing my plays, doing my assignments and stuff like that,” he said.
“From what I learned, you’ve got to be accountable. If you’re accountable, the coaches trust you, your teammates trust you.”
Ellis noted his trust in fellow DL starters Kyle Gibson (81/2 TFL, 5 sacks), Grant Kinsinger (31/2 TFL, Liberty-Benton) and Cyle Skidmore (1 sack, 41/2 TFL) leading to positive relationships off the field as well.
CHARLESTON’S CREW: The Golden Eagles possess a pair of stud senior defensive ends in John Cominsky (6-5, 275) and Kahzin Daniels (6-4, 240).
Cominsky (131/2 TFL) led the Mountain East with 23 TFL last season. He also has nine more quarterback hurries this season.
Daniels (9 TFL, 6 sacks) was second with 12 sacks as junior. He’s made 521/2 TFL and 32 sacks in his career.
“That DL is phenomenal,” Keys said. “Those two kids, Kaminsky and Daniels, are two of the better defensive ends I’ve seen in a long time. Both of them are NFL type-prospects.”
TOUGH LOSSES: Findlay isn’t alone.
Charleston also saw its hopes of victory dash off in the final seconds last week against previously winless West Virginia Wesleyan.
The Golden Eagles scored twice in the fourth quarter to take a 26-20 lead with 5:12 to go.
Wesleyan’s go-ahead score came with 1:28 remaining, enough time for Charleston to have one last stand.
But their kicker Kevin Weiman came up just short on a 51-yard field goal in the final minute.
One week prior, Charleston gave up the go-ahead touchdown with 3:54 remaining to lose 20-14 to Urbana.
QB SHUFFLE: Both teams have used multiple quarterbacks.
Adam Bertke started the last two games for Findlay.
In those starts he’s thrown for 349 yards and 2 TDs to one interception.
Rhys Gervais, who had started 37 of the previous 39 games, averages 218.7 yards per game this season. He has four TDs to six INTs.
Meanwhile, three Charleston players have attempted 40 passes.
Brant Grisel (6-3, 215) started for the first time last week and threw for 285 yards on 24 of 42 attempts with two scores and two picks.
Mason Olszewski (6-2, 200) began the season and only lasted two games. He completed just 13 of 34 attempts for 397 yards and three TDs before giving way to Damion May (6-1, 215).
May lasted the next three games but only completed 48.2 percent (28 of 58) of his throws.
RB PHILOSOPHY: Findlay and Charleston couldn’t be more different in how they distribute carries to running backs.
In the Golden Eagles’ case, it’s singular.
Only four backs nationally have more rushing attempts than senior Jimmy Wheeler (5-10, 180).
He’s handled the rock 141 times for 616 yards with 3 TDs and has three 100-yard games.
Meanwhile, Keys has rode the hot hand between his plethora of talented backs.
UF has had four different leading rushers this season between Richard Wilson (74 carries, 430 yards, 8 TDs), Brian Benson (47 car. 343 yards, 5 TDs), Michael Campbell (38 car. 220 yards, 3 TDs and Demondre Blanks (29 car. 210 yards, 2 TDs).
Senior Chauncey Bridges is also third with 230 yards and 3 TDs on 40 carries.
Most of it has either been game flow between Campbell and Wilson starting or Benson and Blanks seeing valuable experience with the outcome decided.
Campbell got most of his total before spending the last three weeks at defensive back. Keys said Campbell is back in the mix at RB in practice.
“Running backs, once they get going, they have a tendency to keep going,” Keys said.