Fighting Scots football grabs last-second victory over Gannon

Category:  Sports
Friday, October 11th, 2019 at 11:51 AM
Fighting Scots football grabs last-second victory over Gannon by Paul Petrianni
The Edinboro football team celebrates their win over Gannon University. | Photo: Shaddai Crosby

A 35-yard game-winning field goal off the leg of Edinboro’s Vicente Arriagada put the Fighting Scots football team in the win column for the first time this season. They’d win the thrilling entry in the I-79 rivalry against Gannon, 18-17.

The game began with fireworks, as an explosive play by the Edinboro special teams unit left them with a 2-0 lead only 8 seconds into the ball game. Gannon’s return man struggled to corral the opening kickoff, and right when he thought he controlled the football, Edinboro’s Anthony Mendicino hit him, forcing a fumble. The ball was then retrieved in the end zone, resulting in a safety.

“We thought we could win the special teams battle and put in a special effort on special teams...to get two points on the first play of the game is a great way to start,” said Wayne Bradford, head football coach for the Scots.

After a good return by sophomore wide receiver Jon Long on the ensuing possession, the ‘Boro offense would stall out. This would result in another special teams success, a great punt that would put the Golden Knights down at their 1-yard line.

Gannon would initially respond to the tough field position, putting together a nice drive off running back Carlos Gomez, who helped position the Golden Knights at midfield. It would turn there. Gannon snapped their next play from the pistol formation, a handoff to Gomez. He was tackled and stripped of the football by senior strong safety Brandon Anderson, who was named to PSAC weekly honors. The ball was then recovered by Tarique Smith at the Gannon 43-yard line, continuing the trend of the Fighting Scots defense forcing turnovers.

Jordan Castelli got the start this week at quarterback due to injuries to Andrew Tomko. After the Gannon turnover, Castelli marched the Scots down the field. A pass play helped the Scots convert on a crucial third down. He then relied on his running back Dorian Woody, who proceeded to pick up two first downs with his legs. Arriagada, another who earned PSAC weekly honors, would then enter the game after the Scots were stopped on third down. He would nail a 46-yard field goal, sporting enough distance to hit from even 50.

The redshirt freshman’s leg put the Scots up 5-0, a rather unconventional score.

Gannon opened their next drive with an excellent kick return, spotting the ball on their 38-yard line. They would then fire off one of their best drives of the day, going 62 yards and converting plays of 10-or-more yards four times within the possession. They capped off their drive in the end zone, with quarterback Jimmy Keefe finding wide receiver Sam East for a 20-yard touchdown. After the extra point went through the uprights, the Fighting Scots found themselves down 7-5.

Teams would trade punts on each of their next drives. Then, after Castelli and Ta’Nauz Gregory connected on a big play, the quarterback was picked off, giving the Golden Knights good field position after a nice return.

A nice gain from a Golden Knights pass play on first down would immediately put them in field goal range. They attempted to earn more yards to get a closer kick, but the tenacious Edinboro defense wouldn’t budge. After a 34-yard field goal, the Knights would go up 10-5.

Edinboro would try to retake the lead as the game inched closer to the halfway mark. The Scots offense would call upon Woody for a play, and he would answer. He would get six carries for a total of 36 yards on the drive, including bursts of 12 and 16 yards.

Arriagada would come in to attempt a 44-yard field goal, but he’d push it left. However, a personal foul penalty would reset the ball for the Scots, giving them a first-and-10. Arriagada would be called on once again, and this time he’d convert from 20 yards out. The Scots trailed 10-8.

The Golden Knights emerged from the locker room on fire. After receiving the first kick of the second half, they put together a five-play 80-yard effort that ended with a 49-yard touchdown run from Gomez. It was a touchdown that featured multiple Scots draped over him as he broke the goal line. After a converted extra point, Gannon would take a 17-8 lead over their division rivals.

A few drives later, Castelli would pick up steam, finding Andre Dowdell for a 35-yard gain after a quick slant pass up the middle. He would then find Gregory for another 35-yard gain, putting the Scots deep into Gannon territory. The two would connect again, Castelli finding Gregory in the front right corner of the end zone from 4 yards out.

After the touchdown last week against California University, and this one against Gannon, Gregory bolstered his second place position all-time with 30. He is now five away from the all-time Edinboro leader, Earnest Priester, who finished his collegiate career with 35.

Arriagada’s extra point was good, pulling the Scots within two points, 17-15.

Edinboro’s defense, meanwhile, continued to excel, making it extremely difficult for the opposing offense to advance the football. Throughout the rest of the game they forced four punts from the Golden Knights, allowing very minimal yardage on each of Gannon’s last four drives.

Gannon’s last punt was one their kicker would love to have back, as it resulted in great field position for the Scots with less than 4 minutes in the contest.

A 10-yard completion to Woody is how the Scots began their final drive, as the clock slowly began to evaporate. Khalil Jackson then got in on the action, catching a pass from Castelli for 7 yards. As time continued to melt from the game clock, Castelli would then rush the ball up the middle to give Edinboro another critical first down. Gannon now sat helplessly awaiting the field goal. Having only one remaining timeout, they didn’t have the means to get another shot if Arriagada’s kick split the uprights.

The Scots would wind the time down to about 3 seconds after rushing the ball with Woody and using their timeouts. It was now in Arriagada’s hands, as he took the field to attempt a 35-yard field goal that would give the Fighting Scots their first win of the season. Luke Rowlands, the long snapper, and Levi Becker, the holder, executed their jobs flawlessly. Arriagada’s kick was up, and it was good. Edinboro’s late surge earned them their first win of the season, moving them to 1-4, and 1-1 within the PSAC West.

“It felt awesome hitting that kick,” Vicente Arriagada stated. “It was a bit of redemption kick after missing one earlier in the game. It was even something bigger than that; I’m super glad I could help our team get our first win of the season.”

Arriagada attributes much of his success this season to the coaching staff.

“I put in a ton of work this summer with my kicking coach Mike Raynard, who helped me get a lot better. He also helped me a ton with my consistency,” he said. “Coach Rizzuto has always believed in me and put a lot of effort in toward my growth.”

Arriagada also credited Rowlands and Becker for the good start thus far. “We have worked a lot as a unit to unite together and to help our team win games [by] doing our thing,” he said.

Although the team didn’t begin the season with the best record, the players and Bradford are still very hopeful.

“Our first four opponents are currently 13-3,” said Bradford. “We’ve played a tough schedule, and we have still been in every game.”
He continued: “I’m just ecstatic for our kids and our staff. They deserve it and have worked so hard for this win. It’s been a month of miserable Sundays, so tomorrow should be a little nicer.”

Bradford knows they have a battle waiting for them on homecoming, facing off against Mercyhurst, but didn’t want to look too far ahead. He wanted his team to enjoy the win after a month of tough losses.

Edinboro meets Mercyhurst next Saturday for their homecoming game. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. as the Scots will look to improve their record to 2-1 in the PSAC West.

Additional Photos:

The Edinboro football team celebrates their win over Gannon University. | Photo: Shaddai CrosbyTa’Nauz Gregory runs for ‘Boro in the game. | Photo: Jamie Heinrich
 

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