Football: Scots weather Storm for 69-0 rout

Category:  Sports
Thursday, September 6th, 2018 at 1:00 PM
Football: Scots weather Storm for 69-0 rout by Chris Rosato Jr.
Photo: Mike Lantinen

Minutes after Edinboro football’s 69-0 trouncing over Lake Erie College in a road contest Saturday afternoon, the Fighting Scots coaches had already turned their attention to who they’ll face next weekend.

“Well, hopefully our kids understand what it takes to win and understand that they need to play to their [own] level of competition and not the level of competition they’re competing against,” Head Coach Wayne Bradford said. “Our competition is going to get much greater in six days in Bloomsburg.

Still, 69 points — and a shutout to boot — are hard not to get excited about.

The best offense is a great defense

“It’s a tough deal to get a shutout, man, you can play your whole life and never get a shutout, and still be one of the best defenses ever,” Defensive Coordinator Colin Neely said.

For his part, Neely’s defense kept the Storm offense to just 11 net rushing yards, after allowing 88 yards and forcing 77 lost yards on running plays. This forced Lake Erie’s offense to focus on their passing game, which didn’t fare much better. Storm quarterback Javarian Smith averaged just 6.2 yards per completion, good for 93 yards through the air, while throwing two interceptions.

Brandon Anderson earned one of those interceptions on the first play of Lake Erie’s second drive in the third quarter. He also had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the game.

The other interception came from sophomore free safety Billy DePaul, who earned his first career start after playing as a reserve defensive back in all 11 games last season. After returning four out of five starting defensive backs from last season, Edinboro’s coaches were hoping to see someone step up to take over that free safety role.

“I would say Billy, we were definitely happy he had a great spring. It’s one thing to have a great spring, but you’ve got to do it during the game,” Neely said. “I would say we’ve probably got the best secondary in the conference. Obviously I feel good about game one, but I’ve always felt good about those guys — even a year ago.”

A tale of three quarterbacks

Edinboro’s offense exploded for 559 yards, with 356 yards coming in the air and 203 on the ground. Andrew Tomko, who emerged from fall practices as the starting quarterback, completed 14 of his 32 attempted passes to score three touchdowns, but was also responsible for Edinboro’s two interceptions.

With the game out of reach, Bradford gave transfer Jarrod Kellar an opportunity to enter the game, and Kellar made the most of it. He capped off his first drive with an 8-yard pass in the end zone to receiver Kyle Carrington. He also led a 65-yard charge down the field that ended with a Kyle Simms rushing touchdown, giving Edinboro its final points of the day.

Redshirt freshman Levi Becker, who was also part of Bradford’s recruitment effort to bolster competition at quarterback, entered the game for the first time on a fourth-and-7 with 5 minutes left in the first half. He was not there to play quarterback, though, as he delivered a 45-yard punt for the Fighting Scots.

In his second appearance, he demonstrated his athletic ability by executing a 37-yard, rugby-style punt, where the punter takes a few steps towards the line of scrimmage before beginning his kicking motion. In his third appearance, he faked the rugby punt, tucking the ball and continuing to run before being brought down 20 yards downfield, good for a first down.

Bradford had glowing words for the three competing quarterbacks after the game.

“We have two great kids that we could throw out there – and of course Levi Becker,” he said. “All three are tremendous young men, are unselfish, and will do whatever it takes to win football games.”

Special teams put on a clinic

With his team’s offense marching mercilessly down the field throughout the game, true freshman kicker Jake Monroe was given 10 PAT attempts, tied for the school record. He was perfect until the last attempt. If he had converted the final attempt, he would have tied the school record for completions.

Monroe also handled kickoff duties, averaging nearly 60 yards per kick and forcing Lake Erie to begin their returns within their own 10-yard line nearly every kickoff.

After the game, Bradford gave a glowing review of Monroe’s debut performance.

“It’s tremendous, we’re thrilled to death,” he said. “He was on crutches when he came for his visit. So he’s exceeded all our expectations, and he’s just going to get better every year as he gets bigger and stronger.”

Edinboro’s punt defense also saw great success in the effort.

Joel Fulton capitalized on a muffed snap during a third-quarter punt attempt by the Storm, blocking the punt and falling on the ball at Lake Erie’s own 2-yard line. Two plays later, Edinboro would add to their lead with James Clark’s sole touchdown of the game.

An interesting turn of events led to redshirt freshman Barrett Hoffman returning a punt for 0 yards from behind Lake Erie’s line of scrimmage. After another difficult snap and facing pressure from Edinboro’s punt defense, Storm punter Hamandy Diallo punted the ball nearly straight into the air, landing just a few yards in front of him – in the arms of Hoffman, who had been trying to rush Diallo.

Now, Edinboro will have to direct their attention to the more smash-mouth offense of Bloomsburg. The Fighting Scots will face the Huskies on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Bloomsburg.

Both coaches recognized that Lake Erie does not accurately represent the kind of competition they will face in PSAC opponents, but they seemed confident in Edinboro’s ability to make the necessary adjustments.

“We’ll obviously watch the film of this game, make our corrections, but Bloomsburg is a whole different type of team,” Neely said. “So it’ll be a little different getting ready for those guys, but we’ll be prepared.”

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

Tags: sports

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