Football: Defense shines in loss to IUP

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 at 6:40 PM

Two field goals and a touchdown.

Against No. 22 ranked Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the Fighting Scots defense allowed just two field goals and a touchdown.

But on a rainy Saturday with little offense, 13 points were all IUP needed to defeat the Fighting Scots by seven, 13-6, on Military Appreciation Day at Edinboro.

Neither team was able to get on the board in the first quarter. Jarrod Kellar, starting at quarterback for the third straight week for Edinboro, began his day with an interception, but IUP failed to capitalize when they missed a 38-yard field goal.

Edinboro kicker Jake Monroe set up for a 36-yard field goal later in the first quarter, but the attempt was blocked at the line.

At the beginning of the second quarter, the Crimson Hawks knocked a 39-yard field goal through the uprights. They added another successful kick to lead 6-0 for the rest of the half.

IUP was forced to punt the ball away with 18 seconds left in the opening half, but the ball bounced around on the turf before settling down 13 seconds later, leaving Edinboro with just moments left on their own 23. They appeared to be taking a knee, but instead gave Walter Fletcher the ball on a fake. He broke open a 30-yard run before getting brought down around midfield to end the half.

A special teams mistake led to Edinboro’s first and only points of the game. Indiana’s punter had trouble reining in a high snap, attempting to punt it away quickly when he finally gathered it. The punt had a low trajectory, deflecting off Edinboro players a few yards ahead. Khalil Jackson II jumped on the ball to give Edinboro the ball at Indiana’s 38-yard line. 

Fletcher rushed for a total of 32 yards on the drive, with a 6-yard reception by James Clark on the second play, to put Edinboro on the board 7 minutes into the third quarter. The 1-yard finishing run from Fletcher was his 40th career rushing touchdown, putting him in a tie for second in Edinboro history. He trails Larry Jackson’s record by two.

“The offensive line was getting a good push all day. Fletcher was running hard,” Kellar said after the game. “It was just nice to finish a drive like that. We had a couple of drives...stall in the red zone. That ended up being the difference right there.”

Monroe missed just his second PAT attempt of the season, leaving the game tied at 6. Monroe had previously converted 33 in a row. 

Indiana answered in the fourth quarter with a 78-yard drive, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown rush from Justice Evans, to give them the 13-6 lead.

Kellar threw an interception on the second play of Edinboro’s next drive, but his defense forced a three-and-out to get him the ball back from Edinboro’s own 38-yard line with just over 3 minutes left.

Fletcher put together 22 yards as part of the effort, and a 13-yard reception from Clark and a 25-yard reception by A.J. Turner kept the drive alive. Turner’s came on fourth-and-13. 

“That was a big play by a big-time player, and I think he is the best tight end in the PSAC,” Kellar said. “I kind of thought about going to him again in the red zone, but they [double-teamed] him so I didn’t.”

Two incomplete passes and a 4-yard rush left Edinboro with fourth down on Indiana’s 8-yard line, trailing by 6 points with 21 seconds left.

Needing to find the end zone, Kellar looked to pass, but Obi Anyatonwu picked the ball off to give Indiana the ball back with just 17 seconds left. The Crimson Hawks took a knee to finish the game.

Ta’Nauz Gregory did not appear in the game. He has been battling injuries since the PSAC-opening loss at California University in the fourth week. Blake Reddick started in his place.

“That’s where I was all last year. I started every game (as the ‘X’ receiver) last year,” Reddick said. “So that’s where I’m the most comfortable.”

Kellar finished with 118 yards on eight completions. He threw three interceptions and was sacked four times by the Crimson Hawks.

Indiana put together 151 yards on the ground, split amongst their quarterback and two running backs. Quarterback Lenny Williams Jr. paced them with 72 yards.

Fletcher rushed for 186 yards in the game. None of his 36 touches resulted in a loss.

Edinboro finishes divisional play with a 3-4 record. They are now 6-4 overall.

“IUP is a perennial powerhouse,” Kellar said. “They are kind of a good gauge to see where we are as a program, and we had every opportunity to win this game, so we are definitely moving in the right direction. The future is bright for us, believe that.”

The Fighting Scots finish their season with a crossover matchup, as they host Kutztown Saturday at noon for their senior day.

Christopher Rosato Jr. can be reached at sports.spectator@gmail.com.

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