The first stunner of the 2017 DII Football Championship is in the books. The seventh seeded Findlay Oilers went into Shepherdstown, West Virginia and defeated the Shepherd Rams 29-17.
The Oilers were coming off a loss to Ohio Dominican in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference finale. It was just its second loss of the season and first within the GMAC. It left the Oilers postseason hopes a big question mark.
Findlay found its way into the postseason. Not only was it the first meeting between Findlay and Shepherd, it was the Oilers first-ever postseason appearance.
"We're not supposed to be here"— Findlay Oilers (@FindlayOilers) November 18, 2017
Oilers take down No. 2 Shepherd 29-17 to win their first ever NCAA DII Playoff game pic.twitter.com/QRgy2uefmR
Shepherd jumped out to an early lead, controlling the first half. Rams' quarterback Connor Jessop threw two first-half touchdowns as the Rams defense held the Oilers out of the end zone. Findlay could only muster three field goals in the opening half.
The second half was another story. Findlay scored 20 unanswered points to oust the two-time Super Region 1 champions from the postseason. The Oilers controlled the ball for nearly 42 minutes, the bulk of which came in the second half.
TOUCHDOWN! Sylla scores from 1 yard out, but the Oilers fail to convert a 2-point conversion. Findlay trails the #2 Rams 17-15 with 10:31 to play in the 3rd. pic.twitter.com/JCRogH7TqE— Findlay Oilers (@FindlayOilers) November 18, 2017
As he has all season, Findlay running back Daouda Sylla led the charge. DII football's tenth-best rusher ran for 206 yards and a touchdown. Michael Campbell added 93 more yards rushing and a touchdown of his own. It was the arguably the most complete half of the Oilers season, forcing Jessop to throw two untimely inteceptions. Jessop had one of the best touchdown-to-interception ratios in DII football.
Findlay is now 10-2 on the season. More importantly, the Oilers are 1-0 in the DII football championship. Next up is the Northeast-10 champion Assumption Greyhounds who defeated California (Pa.) 40-31 in the first round.