September 4, 2012

Diabetes is no deficit for Yellow Jackets rusher

More news about: Baldwin Wallace

Tyler Lohr rushed for 942 yards last fall, enough to earn him a spot on the second-team All-OAC.
Baldwin Wallace athletics photo

Tyler Lohr didn’t exactly make one of those must-see dazzling debuts as a starting running back.

Not the kind of debut that makes you believe he has what it takes to be an impact player in Division III football and certainly not the kind of debut that makes you believe he is destined for All-Conference honors.

Lohr’s first appearance for the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets was a nightmare, the type of performance you don’t write home about. He fumbled the football four times in the 2011 opener against Wooster.

Lohr rushed for only 55 yards that day. Still, the Yellow Jackets won 23-0.

"I definitely questioned myself," Lohr said. "In high school, I never had ball control issues. It was a big letdown. But we had a bye week after that, and I was determined to focus on being better."

The only option was to get better. Tim Miker, who had racked up more than 1,700 yards in his career, had gone down with a anterior cruciate ligament tear during the preseason.

Lohr had to be the man in the backfield. It didn’t matter that he spent 2010 splitting time between the junior varsity and varsity teams, rushing for only 16 yards at the varsity level.

Ready or not, it was time for Lohr to jump into the fire.

"It was a shock to be in the position, and I felt bad for Tim," Lohr said. "But at the same time, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity. I was ready to see all of my hard work pay off."

BW head coach John Snell was confident Lohr could get the job done.

"Tyler had been waiting in the wings for his opportunity to play," Snell said. "He always worked hard in practice, and he made the most of the chance he had to play last season."

The numbers don’t scream at the top of their lungs for attention, but they say enough.
Lohr nearly turned in a 1,000-yard season, rushing for 924 to go along with seven touchdowns. The effort earned him second-team All-OAC honors.

Miker was expected to return this season, which would have given the Yellow Jackets, a team with OAC championship aspirations, a dynamic duo in their backfield. Miker hurt his knee again, though, and now Lohr is being called upon to lead the way on the ground.

"I’m expecting him to be even better than he was last year," Snell said. "We weren’t sure what to expect from him last year, but we have raised expectations for him this season."

Lohr was looking forward to being in the backfield with Miker. Still, he knows he can count on him anytime.

"Tim was like a second coach on the field for me. Any questions I had, I could ask him and he would help me out. He has been a big help to me."

What makes the story of Lohr’s rise to success all the more impressive is the fact that he has been living with juvenile diabetes since he was 14.

He learned he was diabetic while on a cruise. At first, he thought maybe he was just seasick.

It turned out to be much more.

It can be challenging to be diabetic and play a grueling sport such as football. Lohr has learned to live with it and has thrived despite his health situation.

"The toughest thing, at first, was just learning to keep my blood sugar up during practice or at games," Lohr said. "But I’ve been living with it for a while now, and I know how my body feels. It has become a lot easier to keep everything under control."

Lohr has never let the juvenile diabetes stand in the way of football, and Snell points out, his star running back has never made it obvious that he has diabetes.

"Tyler is the kind of kid who never uses being diabetic as an excuse for anything," Snell said. "If he didn’t mention it or you didn’t see him giving himself his shots, you wouldn’t even know he was diabetic. He has learned to function despite the challenges, and he has succeeded."

The Yellow Jackets finished 8-2 overall last season and were 7-2 in the OAC. They have aspirations of winning a league title for the first time since 1994, and expectations will be high for them as they were ranked No. 19 in the preseason poll and are currently No. 17.
Lohr will play a role in helping BW accomplish its goals, and he has spent the offseason preparing to be at his best in 2012.

"I think one of the biggest things I’ve improved on is my ball security and I have better field vision," Lohr said. "But I know I couldn’t have success without the offensive line. Those guys are some of my best friends on the team and they have done a great job of making me look good."

Surviving the grind of the OAC will take everything Lohr and his teammates have this year, and Snell said his players know that nothing will come easy over the course of the season.

"Our expectations aren’t really any different than they have been in the past, and our guys know no one is going to lay down for us," Snell said. "We have to get better every week, and we have to be ready to play every opponent."

The first opponent will be Bluffton on Saturday. And while Nov. 3 is circled on the calendar of anyone associated with BW football -- that is the day the Yellow Jackets and Mount Union will duke it out in Berea -- Lohr said every week is a big week.

"We have to take each game as it comes. Every week is the Super Bowl for us," Lohr said. "We know even one loss can hurt our chances of a conference title or spot in the playoffs. We have to be ready for everyone."

In the poll

Mount Union looked sharp in its first game of the year and made a little history in the process of the 45-7 victory over No. 13 Franklin on Saturday.

The No. 2 Purple Raiders nailed down their 700th win in program history. Mount Union is the 21st program in NCAA history and the second in D-III history to win at least 700 games.

Kevin Burke helped lead the way in his debut at quarterback. The sophomore completed 16 of his 26 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown pass to Shannon Stewart. He also rushed for 51 yards. Chris Denton caught seven passes for 89 yards, and Charlie Dieuseul led the defensive effort with eight tackles. Isaiah Scott tallied seven tackles and an interception.

It was a game that lived up to the hype, but in the end, No. 23 Thomas More came up short in a showdown with No. 9 St. John Fisher, falling 13-7 in overtime. St. John Fisher came into the game ranked 11th in the nation.

Thomas More was ranked No. 20 entering the tilt. The Saints were playing their first OT game since 2006, and they made noise when Luke Magness hit Devin Kendrick on a 6-yard scoring strike with 10:18 to go in the first half. The touchdown tied the game at 7-7.

Thomas More had the ball first in OT but could not score. Cody Miller sealed the deal with a 2-yard touchdown run. Magness was 12-of-23 for 85 yards and one touchdown on a day when the Saints managed 130 yards of offense.

The Cardinals rolled up 403. Nick Pennekamp had a big day defensively for the Saints, racking up 10 tackles. Alex Taylor made 8.5tackles and forced a fumble.

No. 8 Wabash did not play. The Little Giants will open their campaign against Hanover on the road this Saturday. No. 17 Baldwin Wallace will host Bluffton on Saturday in its first game.

Star power

Geneva quarterback Zack Hayward was unable to lead his team to a victory on Saturday against Frostburg State, but the junior signal-caller did put on quite a show in the Golden Tornadoes’ 56-53 season-opening loss on the road.

Hayward had one of the top performances in Presidents’ Athletic Conference history, throwing for a single-game high 535 yards. He also threw seven touchdowns and rolled up a total of 574 yards of offense, both of which were single-game conference marks as well.

His 39 completions was the second-best total in PAC history. The Golden Tornadoes finished with 714 yards and Frostburg State churned out 566 yards.

Despite playing in 108-degree heat, the Washington and Jefferson football team stepped up defensively in a 23-6 win over Methodist on Saturday in North Carolina.

The Presidents forced three turnovers. B.J. Monacelli made five tackles and forced one fumble. He also knocked down a pass attempt. Dan Sciortino picked off a pass and John Hunter also came up with a forced fumble. Nathan Melhorn led the defensive effort with eight tackles as Methodist was limited to 277 yards, including just 96 on the ground.

Myron Puryear is one of the best defensive players in the MIAA. He is also a viable threat on special teams, and he flashed that skill on Saturday when he returned a kickoff 92 yards for a score in Trine’s season-opening 24-14 win over Manchester.

The return broke a 7-7 tie and Puryear also tallied seven tackles. Caleb Nitz racked up 12 tackles to pace the defense. Trine has won its last seven games against Manchester.

Field goal kickers don't get a lot of attention, but Allegheny kicker Ryan Mong made everyone pay attention to him on Saturday, drilling a 28-yard game-winning field goal to cap a thrilling 17-14 comeback win over Wooster.

The Scots led 14-0 before the Gators roared to life to pull off the stunning win. He also nailed both of his extra-point attempts in the victory, the first after an 8-yard touchdown catch by David Bassi and the second following a 32-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Gittens.

Alexander Lum and Jack Butler came up big defensively for Carnegie Mellon in its 23-20 season-opening win over Grove City College. The duo came up with 10 tackles apiece as the Tartans stretched their win streak in season openers to 14 games. The Tartans gave up 303 yards on the day and secured the win when Liam McGrath picked off a pass with his team leading 23-20.

Notes

Waynesburg backup running back Bertrand Ngampa ran 40 yards for the go-ahead score in a 34-23 win over Muskingum on Saturday. The TD capped a rally in which the Yellow Jackets trailed by nine (23-14) with just over 10 minutes to go in the game. Ngampa finished with his day with 91 yards on 12 carries. ... It was a big day for John Carroll quarterback Mark Myers, who had a stellar debut in the the Blue Streaks’ 40-3 win over St. Norbert in Ireland. Myers threw for 457 yards and five touchdowns as he led John Carroll to its first season-opening win since 2008. He was 30-of-43 and broke the school record for yards set by his current quarterback coach, Tom Arth, who threw for 452 yards against Ohio Northern in 2000. Albion scored on six of its first seven possessions and rolled to a 55-0 win over Defiance on Saturday. Dennis Duncan scored his first collegiate touchdown in the victory and Darrin Williams made his debut as a punt returner, rolling up 116 yards. He also scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. Westminster running back Tyler Banks rushed for a career-high two touchdown to help the Titans blank Hiram 28-0 in their season opener. It marks the third consecutive year Westminster has beaten Hiram in an opener, and Derrick Orloski racked up 8.5 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss. ... Tim Doup was a winner in his first game as the head coach at Otterbein as the Cardinals blanked Gallaudet 15-0 on Saturday. Doup became the first coach since 2001 to win his first game. Otterbein gave up only 219 yards and Aaron Kingcaide was 11-of-18 for 118 yards in his first start at quarterback. ... Kalamazoo overcame an early 8-7 deficit to edge Rose-Hulman 29-28 in its season opener on Saturday. Aaron McGuire shined at quarterback, completing 16 of his 29 passes for 246 yards. He was picked off twice but did rush for 111 yards and three touchdowns. ... Mike Person became the first Allegheny quarterback since 2000 to win in his first career start. He was 13-of-25 for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He was picked off once. ... David Kalgren returned two interceptions for touchdowns and helped Oberlin crush Earlham 33-3 in its season opener on Saturday. Kalgren was part of a defensive effort that limited the Quakers to 109 yards of offense...Case Western running back Kenny Riordan rushed for a career-high 155 yards to help pace the the Spartans to a 26-23 win over Marietta in its season opener. Case scored 26 unanswered points to secure the wild victory and have won their last 11 openers. Riordan carried the ball 19 times but did not score a touchdown. Case finished with 415 yards.

Contact me

I love hearing from the readers and feel free to share your thoughts in addition to potential story ideas. You can reach me at brian.lester@d3sports.com or follow me on Twitter: @BLester1993.

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois and lives in Ottawa with his wife and daughter.

2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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