Record day for Edinboro football in 56-12 victory

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 at 6:35 PM
Record day for Edinboro football in 56-12 victory by Chris Rosato Jr.

There are two new names to scribble in at the top of Edinboro’s record books. James Clark and Walter Fletcher.

With five receptions and 328 yards rushing, respectively, in Saturday’s 56-12 rout of Seton Hill, the record book now reflects what fans have been saying for the past four seasons.

“It just says a lot about [Clark] because we’ve had a lot of great receivers throughout our history at Edinboro and a lot of great quarterbacks,” Head Football Coach Wayne Bradford said. “So for him to break the record is a testament to being a four-year player. He’s not a one-year wonder.”

Clark’s receptions brought him to 195 in his career, one more than Darren Massey earned between 2013-2016.

“It was very accomplishing for me because coming into Edinboro, I had a lot of personal goals that I wanted to attain and this is definitely one of them,” Clark said of the record. “So when I got the news Saturday, it was kind of a relief because I got one checkbox done out of the goals that I set out for myself.”

Fletcher, a redshirt junior, ran for 12 more yards than any Fighting Scot has racked up in a single game. He’s also now fourth in career rushing yards and tied for third in career rushing touchdowns at Edinboro. He has always been out to prove himself, as he wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school and went to Randolph-Macon College before transferring to Edinboro.

“Just having a lot of coaches overlook me, that motivated me to work hard and just keep pushing,” Fletcher said. “I knew my time was going to come sooner or later, so I’m just proud and blessed that it finally came.”

Their successes came on a day where Edinboro was clicking on all cylinders and in all three phases of the game. Special teams had a blocked extra point and a fumble recovery touchdown, while the defense held the Griffins to just 12 points.

The game kicked off with both teams exchanging touchdowns on each of their first two drives. 

Seton Hill ate up 5 minutes of clock with a 60-yard scoring drive, but freshman kicker Hunter Miller failed to convert the concluding extra point.

Edinboro’s first drive began with a 46-yard rush from Fletcher, who accounted for 57 of the 64 yards of the drive. He was rewarded with a finishing 9-yard touchdown run.

Griffins quarterback Chris Jones connected with wide receiver Ardell Brown on a 22-yard touchdown pass for Seton Hill’s final 6 points of the game just halfway through the first quarter.

The Fighting Scots knew they’d have to keep tabs on Brown, Seton Hill’s leading receiver with 1,000 yards and eight receiving touchdowns, and Defensive Coordinator Colin Neely said the team figured out quickly how to keep the ball out of his hands.

“It was a little shaky there in the first quarter,” Neely said. “They got a good wide receiver [who] we expected to be productive, and he was...then we made some adjustments.”

Clark had two receptions in Edinboro’s ensuing drive, including an 8-yard touchdown catch, giving Edinboro a 14-12 lead after freshman kicker Jake Monroe earned his second of eight PATs

Monroe punched his PATs through the uprights despite the rough weather, but Seton Hill’s Miller missed both of his attempts. ‘Boro defensive lineman Myles Turner got his hands on the second attempt.

After neither team scored for 13 minutes, Edinboro struck again with a 21-yard hookup between quarterback Jarrod Kellar and receiver Blake Reddick. The touchdown was the second of Reddick’s career.

After forcing a three-and-out on Seton Hill’s next drive, Edinboro’s punt return team got themselves onto the scoreboard. Freshman Khalil Jackson II capitalized on a muffed snap, sacking Seton Hill’s punter Matt Stewart on the 1. To his surprise, the football popped out and Jackson fell on top of it in the end zone for his first career touchdown.

“It was just right place, right time and I just made a play,” Jackson said. He added: “I’m just happy we won because we’ve been losing a lot lately and that’s not how we wanted the season to go. So I’m just happy that we came out here and I was able to contribute to that.”

In a day full of rarities, right tackle Trey Staunch found himself with a kickoff return to begin the second half after John Watt skied a shallow kick to the middle of the field. Staunch, who played quarterback at West Middlesex High School and began his college career at tight end, only managed a 4-yard return.

“I’ll admit, it definitely brings back the high school days of touching the ball...didn’t make a move though. I kinda screwed myself, but it was good to touch the ball again.” He also commented on the Griffins plan to keep the ball away from Edinboro’s dangerous return men. “With [Zuril Hendrick and Ta’Nauz Gregory] back there, just such a big threat, why not kick it to the big fella? But we got the ball at the 45 so I can’t complain.”

Fletcher tacked on touchdown runs of 76 and 19 yards in the third quarter to give the Scots a 42-12 lead heading into the final frame. He accounted for all 77 yards of Edinboro’s next scoring drive, spread out between the third and fourth quarters, on just three rushes.

Clark’s 195th career catch came during a 96-yard drive after Stewart pinned Edinboro back to their own 4 with a 56-yard punt that rolled out of bounds. With a fresh set of downs, Kellar connected with Clark on a shovel pass that Clark ran upfield with for a 5-yard gain. Kyle Galyk polished off the drive with a 68-yard rushing touchdown on the next play to boost Edinboro to a 56-12 lead.

Edinboro ended up with 436 total yards on the ground. Left tackle Alex Molik returned from an injury that kept him out the past two weeks, contributing to the ground attack.

“I guess watching two games go down the toilet like we did, it just was a horrible feeling and I knew I needed to come back,” Molik said. “Coming back like this and getting to play beside my guys again, it was awesome. I was ecstatic. And to do what we did today is just mind boggling. I couldn’t believe we had that many yards rushing, but we did, and I’m just happy to be back.”

Rain fell at various points throughout the game, while hail blanketed the field just before kickoff. The first half was spared from any severe weather, but strong winds and sideways rain pounded Edinboro during the second half. Seton Hill couldn’t overcome the weather or Edinboro’s 44-point lead.

Kellar started his second game in a row with Andrew Tomko recovering from injuries, but Tomko came on to punt in the third quarter and took snaps at quarterback when the second string teams faced off in the final quarter with the game out of hand. He would not throw a pass though.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak, improving Edinboro’s conference record to 2-3. Bradford said the Fighting Scots, who also improved to 5-3 overall, were able to spread the ball around to multiple carriers and receivers, something they weren’t able to do in recent weeks.

“It feels great. The world is back to normal,” Bradford said after the game. “[The locker room is] vivacious, if you can use that term. The guys are dancing and having a blast and enjoying one another, and they deserve it. They’ve worked their tail off. They’ve paid the price. That’s the best part is watching how much fun they’re having with one another and how important it is to them and how much they care.”

Other players echoed Bradford’s feelings.

“It feels good. I want to credit my coaches and offensive linemen. They played really hard, opened some holes up and I just saw daylight and I took it,” Fletcher said of his sixth game rushing for over 100 yards this season. “So definitely a good confidence-booster game to get back on track. Next week we’re at Clarion, so hopefully this will carry over.”

Staunch returned Fletcher’s compliment, crediting his raw running ability for the team’s offensive success Saturday.

“Just having Fletch back there, just such a humbling kid and the way he can just make us right,” Staunch said. “If we miss a block, he can make us right, just the way he cuts. It’s an awesome feeling, and for him to get that record — it’s a good feeling for us.”

The Fighting Scots will visit the Golden Eagles for their final away game of the season Saturday at noon. Clarion is 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the PSAC West.

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

Tags: sports, football

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