Football upsets ‘Hurst as they get back in the winning groove

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 at 6:37 PM
Football upsets ‘Hurst as they get back in the winning groove by Mike Lantinen

Coming into the game as the underdogs, the Fighting Scots topped the Mercyhurst Lakers by a score of 28-25. After a late push by the Lakers in the fourth quarter that brought them within three of the tie, they took the field for an onside kick that offensive tackle Trey Staunch recovered, sealing the Scots victory. 

In a back and forth first half, Edinboro would be the first to strike after recovering a muffed punt. The play set up the offense inside of the Mercyhurst red zone and the combination of Andrew Tomko and Walter Fletcher wasted no time before getting started in their ground and pound attack. 

“I just wanted to play in the system. I know all of the coaches stress [to] just do our job, and I believed in Coach Limbaugh’s gameplan and the rest of the staff’s [gameplan]. I just wanted to go out there and not make any spectacular plays, but just do my specific job and play,” quarterback Andrew Tomko said. 

The two combined for a total of 175 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the day, most of which came from Fletcher, who continues to climb the ladder amongst Edinboro’s most respected tailbacks. Fletcher’s 958 yards on the season gives him the opportunity to be the first running back since 2004 to run for 1,000 yards or more on the year. 

Fletcher would even flank wide receiver Ta’Nauz Gregory in the wildcat. One time, this combination would find the endzone on a handoff to Fletcher who outpaced the Mercyhurst defense to reach the pylon. 

“Ta’Nauz is a great player and can score touchdowns any time he touches the football, so anytime you have a skilled guy and you can put the ball in his hands, you try to get them in that position as many times as possible,” head coach Wayne Bradford said.

Mercyhurst didn’t let up as they eventually took the lead later in the half thanks to a balanced offensive attack from their quarterback Doug Altavilla and his running mate Grayson Taylor, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry. 

On two separate drives of 65 and 59 yards, Mercyhurst tied the game. Before the end of the half, they would take the lead on a field goal, making it 17-14. 

Mercyhurst showed the capabilities to drive down the field, but the Fighting Scots’ opportunistic defense was too much. Two mishaps, one early in the third, the other later, both resulted in turnovers recovered by Edinboro defenders.

“It was one of those local rivalry games. We knew Mercyhurst was coming in after beating a really good Gannon team and playing really competitively against Slippery Rock, so we knew it was going to be a challenge. I’m proud of the way they competed for 60 minutes to get the victory,” Bradford said. 

Derek Dorr has now forced two fumbles on the year and shows no signs of letting up. Ethan Upperco would make the first recovery while Maurice Sims, who came in relief, picked up the other. 

Mercyhurst had the opportunities late with two long drives into Edinboro territory, but questionable play-calling led to them coming up completely empty and turning over the ball on downs.

Starting quarterback Jake Sisson will be returning to practice this week and his availability will continue to be questionable until their matchup against Slippery Rock at Sox Harrison Stadium on Saturday at noon. 

“The first thing you do when you’re preparing for Slippery Rock is you must have a rock in your pocket, 24/7. That’s how important the football game is, this will be our 80th meeting so it’s one of our old school rivalries. Their team is having a great year. Really explosive offense with three outstanding receivers, a quarterback that’s been playing really well and two running backs so there will be a great challenge there,” Bradford added. 

Bradford feels their point of attack must be on Slippery Rock’s defense who is a generally younger unit.

“Defensively, they’ve given up a lot of points and a lot of yards. They have only one returner, [but] unfortunately for us that returner is the all-time leader in sacks and tackles for a loss in division II history. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re athletic, they can hit, but this is the most fierce and intense game we will play from a physical standpoint and we’re ready,” said Bradford.

Mike Lantinen can be reached at sports.spectator@gmail.com. 

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