In the end, Notre Dame College couldn't stop Obadiah Dykes.
The Tiffin University senior receiver's numbers speak for themselves: 194 yards receiving, 10 catches, a 40-yard touchdown catch-and-run and a 69-yard reception.
But it was Dykes' last catch that helped to do in the Falcons, and send the Dragons on to their first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win since President George W. Bush still was in office.
Tiffin led Notre Dame, 27-22, and faced a third down and 14 from the its own 36. Three minutes and 11 seconds remained. Quarterback Dan Pitts, substituting for James Capello for the second-straight week, was able to draw Notre Dame offsides.
Knowing he had a free play, Pitts zinged the ball toward Dykes, who had passed the first-down marker. Dykes caught the ball in a stretch with a defender on him in the center of the field at the Notre Dame 42. First down.
"We knew (the Falcons) were really anxious, and they were gonna jump," said Dykes. "Once he jumped, I just ran, (Pitts) threw the ball, I had to catch it. It was a catch I had to make, or I'd have heard that for the rest of the year."
"We practice that play every day, it's called 'Purple,'" Pitts said. "We draw them offsides and then we throw it up, and I knew I could count on Obadiah to make a catch - he's been doing it all game."
It didn't ice the game, but it allowed the Dragons to melt more than a minute off the clock. Pitts' pass to Mark Rogers secured another first down, and the Dragons were able to kill the clock from there.
It was the Dragons first conference win since TU's 34-28 overtime victory over Northern Michigan on Sept. 13, 2008. Tiffin snapped a 43-game GLIAC losing streak.
Tiffin senior linebacker Logan Snell, who has been one of TU's big-play guys on defense, put the win in perspective.
"I would give up those big plays in a heartbeat if we would just come out with a win every week," said Snell, who had eight tackles and two sacks Saturday. "It's the fact that we're pulling together as a team, as a defense, as an offense. Today was the first time putting four quarters together."
The Dragons jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. A 69-yard option pass from receiver Pedro Correa to Dykes set up a Seth Pekoe field goal, and a Bryon McCorkle hit on Notre Dame's Ray Russ on the following Falcon possession jarred the ball lose and led to a Logan Kaminski recovery. Moments later, Pitts hit Jeremy Ortiz on a screen. Ortiz ran 32 yards for a touchdown.
It was the best game of Pitts' career, as he completed 25 of 40 passes for three touchdowns and 294 yards. He was intercepted once in the third quarter, but bounced back to lead a touchdown drive.
"I think Dan, he played a great game," said TU coach Gary Goff, who won his second game as Dragons' coach.
But the Falcons responded with a 10-spot of their own. Russ completed a 22-yard swing pass to Jack Foy for a score, then kicker Jordan Colson connected on a 41-yard field goal with 13:06 left in the half.
TU re-took the lead just before the half when Pitts threw a screen to Dykes, and the receiver maneuvered 40 yards to the end zone.
"(Dykes) came up and made some big clutch plays for us," Goff said. "Very proud of him."
The Dragons never lost the lead after that, though the Falcons came within inches of tying things a few times. After a 1-yard touchdown pitch to Pedro Powell made it 17-16 with 7:38 left in the third, the Dragons blocked the extra point. TU answered with another touchdown pass to Ortiz, but Notre Dame scored on a 2-yard run from Foy with 1:40 left in the third. Russ' ensuing two-point conversion pass fell incomplete, and TU still led, 24-22.
Pekoe then capped the game's scoring with a 35-yard field goal at the 5:26 mark of the fourth quarter.
For Notre Dame, Russ threw for 237 yards, and was intercepted once, by Brandon Person. Powell ran for 117 yards, but didn't dominate the contest. He averaged a little better than four yards a rush.
"All week, we preached 'stop the run, stop the run,'" Snell said. "And we feel like (Powell), that was the start of their offense."
For Goff, it was nice to be able to celebrate after some close calls.
"Today, I think we grew up," Goff said. "We found a way to win."