Football Club leaves first-ever home game victorious, 3-0

Jake Alsko

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The Oakland University Football Club reached another milestone in their historic inaugural season Oct. 5, coming out victorious in the university’s first home game.

The Golden Grizzlies rode quarterback Brandon Tucker’s four touchdowns to defeat Columbus State Community College 36-26 at Auburn Hills Civic Center, which featured a packed home crowd that easily exceeded the field’s official seating capacity.

The game was back-and-forth from the start, with OU marching right down the field on their first drive only to come up empty-handed on a fourth down in the Cougars red zone. CSCC would capitalize with a long touchdown pass, but OU rebounded to come back with a touchdown of their own.

At halftime, head coach Al Manfroni demanded more focus from the whole team.

“When you’re tired and wore out, you lose focus,” Manfroni said. “When you lose focus, you start making mistakes. The two touchdowns they (CSCC) scored? Mistakes. They didn’t beat us.”

“Last two games, we lost focus going out of halftime,” defensive tackle Jerone Turner said. “We have to bounce back this week, keep fighting the whole game. It takes 60 minutes, not 30.”

In addition to refocusing, Manfroni had also challenged the OU defensive line to get more pressure on the CSCC offense. When they weren’t notching one of their multiple second half sacks, the Grizzlies defense was flushing the Cougars quarterback out of the pocket in an effort to buy extra time.

Tucker connected with Benny Sorrentino for a 24-yard touchdown pass to put OU up 29-14, a lead they would hold onto until the third quarter, when the Cougars scored back-to-back touchdowns to pull within a field goal, 29-26.

Eventually, OU’s relentless pass rush took its toll on CSCC, forcing an interception to OU defensive back Eli Grant with 6:27 to go in the fourth quarter.

Tucker then took it from there, leading the Grizzlies down the field to punch in his third rushing touchdown of the day to clinch the game 36-26.

“A great team will always find a way to win,” Manfroni said. “It doesn’t have to be pretty, but they find a way to win, and that’s us. We find a way to win every time, and that’s our strength.”

When asked on how it felt for the team to be 3-0 and making history, Tucker’s short answer spoke volumes.

“We’re not done yet,” Tucker said. “That’s all I got to say. We’re not done yet.”

The OU Football Club will travel to play Wright State on the road Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. before returning home Oct. 19 to play Miami (OH) University at 4 p.m.

Additional reporting by Dave Cesefske