Football loses in OT thriller on senior day

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 at 6:31 PM
Football loses in OT thriller on senior day by Chris Rosato Jr.
Photo: Kelly Staschak

Not even the snow could cast a shadow on Zuril Hendrick’s diving interception in the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Kutztown. After all, it would make him Edinboro’s all-time career interceptions leader with 21.

“It was great to finally get it,” Hendrick said. “I knew my time would come.…it was a tough loss, but I’m just grateful to get number 21.”

Both teams put up big offensive numbers on Edinboro’s senior day despite the snow-covered turf and constant snow throughout the game, but it was Hendrick’s defense that stole the show. After making his 21st career pick and the seventh of his season, Hendrick sprinted down the sideline and slid on his knees through the snow. He then exited the field where he was mobbed by his teammates.

The first half ended 12-7 as Kutztown struggled to kick their extra points and Edinboro failed to score after their first drive. Edinboro’s lone touchdown in the first half was thanks to a completion by A.J. Turner in the end zone from starting quarterback Jarrod Kellar. 

Kutztown then answered with a touchdown of their own, but the PAT was tipped at the line and bounced off the crossbar.

On the third play of Edinboro’s next drive, Kutztown’s Ahkee Cox-Cowan intercepted a Kellar pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to give the Golden Bears a 12-7 lead.

The second half saw more offensive production as heavy snow again blanketed the field that was partially plowed during halftime.

Edinboro began the scoring in the third quarter, as Brandan Rivers intercepted a pass from Collin DiGalbo and returned it for 85 yards. Freshman kicker Jake Monroe missed on his second PAT attempt of the game.

Kutztown then put together a 68-yard touchdown drive that spanned nearly 6 minutes of game time, but failed on a 2-point conversion attempt to put them up 18-13. 

Edinboro’s Kyle Galyk fumbled the ball away at the end of a 13-yard return, setting Hendrick up for his interception on Kutztown’s second play of the next drive.

Edinboro was unable to capitalize on Hendrick’s interception, turning the ball over on downs on Kutztown’s 32-yard line. Andrew Tomko, who served as the team’s punter again during the game, returned to quarterback for most of the second half.

Kutztown began the fourth quarter with a punt, but an illegal procedure penalty set Edinboro back enough to force them to punt on a three-and-out. After Kutztown was also poised for a three-and-out, the Fighting Scots were assisted by the weather when the punt snap went over Kutztown punter Dean Krcic’s head. Krcic chased the ball back to his own 2-yard line and kicked the ball out through the back of the end zone in a panic, drawing a flag for illegal kicking that gave Edinboro the ball on Kutztown’s 1-yard line. 

Walter Fletcher punched the ball in for his 41st career rushing touchdown to give the Fighting Scots a 1-point lead after a failed 2-point conversion.

The Golden Bears answered with a quick, 69-yard scoring drive and a successful 2-point conversion to give themselves a 26-19 lead.

Edinboro then turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal, but Kutztown failed to move the chains, giving the Fighting Scots the ball at midfield with less than 3 minutes remaining.

Trailing by 7 in the closing minutes of the game, Edinboro put together a 48-yard drive to even the game. It almost stalled on fourth-and-goal from the 12, but a pass to Ta’Nauz Gregory in the front of the end zone brought them to within 1 point.

Gregory said he noticed Kutztown was playing man coverage with various blitzes, and he felt he would be able to beat any one-on-one coverage. He did not appear in the team’s previous game against Indiana University.

“I missed it because we were in the same situation last week, and I didn’t suit up that game,” Gregory said. “So I just missed it and I was glad I was able to be out this game to help tie the game and try to win.”

The offense remained on the field for the 2-point attempt, but an illegal procedure penalty backed them up 5 yards, forcing Edinboro to turn to Monroe to tie the game. His kick split the uprights, tying the game with 1:36 left on the clock. 

Edinboro started with the ball in overtime. Overtime drives begin from the opposing team’s 25-yard line, and both teams attempt to score on the same end zone. In this contest, the two teams moved toward the half of the field that was largely untouched in the second half of the game, leaving a thick layer of snow on the turf.

Edinboro moved the ball quickly, ultimately scoring when Gregory left his feet and made a catch with his fingertips in the end zone. This time, Monroe’s extra-point was no-good. He was 44-for-48 in PAT attempts this season.

Gregory had eight receptions in the game, bringing him to 167 in his three seasons of playing. He will enter his final season in third place all-time in receptions. Teammate James Clark broke the record earlier this season and finished his career with 209.

“For me, I think just having someone else that’s a dynamic weapon on offense makes it a little easier because now they have to worry about two receivers instead of one,” Gregory said. “And especially we have Fletcher in the backfield, they really can’t try to double-team one of us.”

Kutztown was also able to move the ball quickly, finding the end zone in just four plays. With the game tied again, the Golden Bears’ fate rested with kicker Alec Rosenfeld, who had missed on his only two PAT attempts to that point. But in overtime, he laced one through the uprights to give Kutztown the 1-point victory over Edinboro.

Trey Hall, one of the 13 seniors recognized as part of the senior day festivities, finished the day with nine tackles, including assisting on a 6-yard tackle for a loss. Hall has had the best season of his career, tripling his previous season-best interceptions mark and earning a career-high 85 tackles.

“Stats are good, but I think wins are better,” Hall said. “I’m just glad I could be here for one last ride with all my senior teammates.”

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

View Our YouTube Channel
Edinboro TV
 
Find Us on Instagram