Findlay at Ohio Dominican


Records: Findlay 9-1, 6-0 Great Midwest Athletic Conference; Ohio Dominican 6-3, 6-0 GMAC

Last meeting: Ohio Dominican won 49-37 last season in Findlay. Ohio Dominican leads series 4-1.

Even while Ohio Dominican was making the long bus ride back to Columbus after a 42-24 loss to Penn at Franklin Field in Philadelphia in the third week of the season, the coaches and players knew that a championship could be in their future.

How could a team that stood 0-3 be that optimistic?

First, the losses came against 10th-ranked Ashland, California (Pennsylvania) and the Quakers, of the Football Championship Subdivision. Each game was on the road. Second, the Panthers were coming off a sixth-straight winning season.

“We were working our tails off, and losing those games took us by surprise," said quarterback Grant Russell of Newark. “We said our main goal was still attainable, and that was a GMAC championship."

Ohio Dominican and Findlay will play for the Great Midwest Athletic Conference championship in their first season as members. They are no strangers to each other, however, having come from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Russell, who leads the Great Midwest with 2,843 yards passing and 24 touchdowns, wants to leave campus with a championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance. The winner receives the conference’s automatic bid.

“One of our team goals every year is to win a conference championship, and to win in our first year (in the Great Midwest) is what the seniors have been talking about from the first day,” he said. “We want to leave a legacy.”

The team has torn through the conference; its closest victory was 20-3 over Malone.

Russell noted that the Panthers have “had only three home games, and we’ve played a lot of night games.”

Findlay lost to Ohio Dominican last season but will be a major test. The Oilers lead the conference in total offense (525.4 yards, third nationally) and scoring (49.9 points, second nationally), and lead the nation in turnover margin at plus-18.

Second-year Panthers coach Kelly Cummings said this game is advertising for Ohio small-college football.

“This is no surprise that we’re here in Week 11 against Findlay for the championship,” Cummings said. “We thought it would be Findlay, Hillsdale and us from the get-go. We’re right down the road from one another. This game is important for the programs, but also for small-college Ohio football. These teams have the same recruiting bases, and it means so much more to the coaches, players and families.”

Saginaw Valley State at Ashland


Ashland (9-1, 8-0) clinched a tie for the GLIAC championship with a 34-31 victory over Grand Valley State last Saturday, but it can secure a first-round Division II home playoff game with a win over Saginaw (5-5, 3-5). The Eagles have won 21 straight home games.

Mount Union at John Carroll


In 2016, John Carroll (6-3, 6-2) ended Mount Union’s regular-season winning streak at 112 games and its run of consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference championships at 23 straight. Now, the No. 2-ranked Raiders (9-0, 8-0) already are conference champions and attempting to earn home-field advantage for the first four weeks of the Division III playoffs.

Wooster at Wittenberg


Wittenberg (9-0, 8-0) has won the North Coast Athletic Conference championship outright, but it can go a long way toward locking up a first-round home game with a victory over Wooster (6-3, 5-3).

— Mark Znidar