Offensive inefficiencies plague Scots in 30-13 loss to Cal U.

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 at 5:31 PM
Offensive inefficiencies plague Scots in 30-13 loss to Cal U. by Mike Lantinen
Photo: Mike Lantinen

Shaking off early losses to West Chester and Indiana (Pa.), the Edinboro football team had found a groove, winning their past three contests before Saturday. But after their record breaking performance and victory against Seton Hill, the follow-up against California (Pa.) was one to be forgotten, the Scots falling short to the Vulcans, 30-13. 

Cal’s defense was stout, allowing only 176 yards of total offense just a week after Edinboro almost broke the PSAC record against Seton Hill with 826 yards. Walter Fletcher, who has recently been on quite the tear, couldn’t break the 100-yard barrier on the ground.

Senior quarterback Michael Kleir had a quietly efficient night, going 17-32 for a completion percentage slightly above 50. The previous PSAC West first-team member helped his offense with 279 yards and three touchdowns.

Two star players for the Fighting Scots would eventually leave the field with injuries. Starting quarterback Jake Sisson had already missed time earlier in the year, while James Clark went out after two Cal players made big hits on him consecutively. 

“It’s all about next guy up. There’s nothing you can do. Unfortunately with our scholarship limitations and resources, we don’t have a lot of great depth. If you look at our roster right now, we’re in the mid-70s, so that’s an issue for us to continue to go out and recruit depth so that our second guy is as good as our first guy,” head coach Wayne Bradford said.

He continued, “When you have injuries, you just have to prepare the next guy and it’s your job as a staff to get that next guy prepared, [and] hopefully he plays as well as he can.”

An early touchdown got Edinboro off on the right foot, catching the Vulcans out of position with an empty secondary. Sisson went over the top for his first of two touchdowns on the day.

Before the end of that half, Edinboro intercepted the ball in the waning seconds, tossing three laterals before finally being brought down. The turnover would net 80 yards but wasn’t enough for a score. Cal would lead, 17-13.

Once the Scots fell behind, their offense favored the passing game, but they were unable to keep pressure off Sisson. Cal would end the day with four sacks, although the quarterback was pressured much more often, forced to the sideline to eventually throw the ball away on multiple occasions. On six attempted runs, Sisson registered -37 net yards, one of which occured on the 1-yard line when a botched snap went past Sisson. 

“Our starting center didn’t play, and I don’t think people realize how big of an impact that was. You got a player that’s played every snap all year, that has really done a tremendous job and maybe one of our best offensive lineman, so you take him out. Offensive lines, it’s all about communication, all about trust. It’s all about playing together week after week after week,” Bradford said.

He continued: “We had a couple new guys in there, and obviously we got behind by a couple scores, [and] they created some situations where we were one-dimensional. And they’re pretty good on defense.”

Saturday’s game would also be Senior Day. Seven players would be recognized: Forrest Christmann, Brenndan Green, Jon Girvin, DeVon Groves, R.J. Hughes, Jake Sisson and Ryan Stratton. Hughes, who had to leave the field during the game with an injury, returned later on, putting forth a gutsy performance in his last time at Sox Harrison field.

The Fighting Scots final game of the year will be this Saturday against Cheyney where head coach Wayne Bradford will put his final stamp on his inaugural and interim year.

“It’s certainly very exciting. It’s a position I treasure. This is my home, [and] I’ve always aspired to be a head coach and there is nowhere else I would rather be a head coach than here at Edinboro University,” Bradford explained. 

He continued: “We’re trying to build on last year’s success of 9-2 to this year at 7-4. These guys will have won 16 games in the past two years (with a win against Cheyney) — that will be their legacy. They have sort of taken us from the ashes. And I would love to be here for a long time, and we want this program to be a winning program for a long time.”

As the Scots look forward, they’ll lose key pieces of the team.

“Our biggest issue on offense, we’ll lose a quarterback that’s done a tremendous job the last two years, so we have to continue to develop Andrew Tomko, but we got a lot of returning pieces on offense. So looking down the road, recruiting we feel very good and we redshirted the guys we really liked,” Bradford continued.

“Defensively, we lose a few more. DeVon Groves in the secondary and three defensive lineman, but again we have some young guys so we’re excited about the future. We got to go out and be very selective with recruiting, but we feel the future is very bright in Edinboro.”

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

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