Scots even up PSAC record, only score in even quarters

Category:  Sports
Thursday, November 1st, 2018 at 8:51 AM
Scots even up PSAC record, only score in even quarters by Chris Rosato Jr.
Photo: Bri Nellis

A sloppy start, two early fumbles and consistent rain, plagued Edinboro football early, but they managed to hold on for a 14-7 win at Clarion University Saturday.

Head Football Coach Wayne Bradford said he was happy that the team, now 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the PSAC West, has secured a third consecutive winning season.

“Personally, I take a lot of pride in our program. It’s huge. But it’s about the program and about our staff, our kids. Not about me,” Bradford said. “You know, I am just happy to be a little part of it. But it’s special (another winning season) because I have great pride in this place.”

The Fighting Scots won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff, but squandered a 14-yard Ta’Nauz Gregory return and James Clark 35-yard reception when Walter Fletcher fumbled at Clarion’s 15-yard line.

Zuril Hendrick immediately returned the ball to his offense with his 20th career interception (see A1 for full story), but Fletcher’s second fumble in as many minutes — this one on Clarion’s 3-yard line — gave the ball back to the Golden Eagles.

“It was definitely the weather, but that’s no excuse,” Fletcher said. “I’ve got to hold onto the ball, but it happens. I tried to bounce back as well as I could.”

With 4 minutes left in the first quarter, Edinboro found themselves lined up to score first with a 33-yard field goal attempt by freshman Jake Monroe. Monroe never got to touch it, though, as the snap was fumbled and holder Andrew Tomko had to scramble. No receivers made it downfield on the impromptu play, forcing Tomko to throw the ball away and take the turnover.

Both teams punted the ball away on their next drives to finish the quarter scoreless.

“We left 21 points in the first quarter,” Bradford said. “It should’ve been a rout. Not to take anything away from Clarion, but we moved the ball at will early.”

A 6-minute, 56-yard Clarion drive to open the second quarter ended on a failed fourth-down conversion just outside of Edinboro’s red zone. Edinboro responded with a 76-yard scoring drive, capped off by an improbable 33-yard touchdown reception by Gregory. 

On the play, center Vitaly Gurman’s snap skidded along the wet turf to quarterback Jarrod Kellar, who quickly scooped it up and lobbed it down the sideline for Gregory. Rushing, Kellar underthrew it by a few yards, giving a Clarion defensive back an easy possible interception. Instead, it went through his hands, ricocheting towards Gregory, who caught it before it fell to the ground, stepping into the end zone for a touchdown.

Monroe added the extra point to give the Fighting Scots a 7-0 lead.

Clarion was slow to move the ball on their next drive until they received some help from Edinboro penalties. 

On a first-and-10 play, David Ballew III forced a fumble after sacking quarterback Jeff Clemens, but Clemens fell on it for a 3-yard loss. Edinboro nose guard Myles Turner got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the play, turning a second-and-13 into a fresh set of downs. 

On the next play, Clemens hooked up with Dervonn Holton, who was immediately hit by linebacker Trey Hall. The hit lowered Holton quickly, and at the same time defensive back Maurice Sims dove in for a tackle, the series causing him to make contact with Holton’s head. The play was initially ruled a personal foul for targeting and referees confirmed the call during halftime. Sims was ejected for the hit.

Running back Mylique McGriff ran the final 10 yards to the end zone to even the score at 7-7 heading into the second half.

Neither team was able to move the ball with much success for much of the third quarter before a 29-yard Clarion field goal attempt was blocked by Derek Dorr.

Both teams again traded punts until Fletcher redeemed himself halfway through the fourth quarter with an 80-yard touchdown run to boost Edinboro to a 14-7 lead that would stick to the end.

“It feels good,” Fletcher said of the run. “Our coaches preach, ‘Play the next play.’ That’s exactly what I tried to do and my O-line blocked it up correct, I saw a gap and I tried to make something happen.”

Clarion came into the game ranked 27th in the country in run defense, but Fletcher finished with 243 yards, the seventh-most in a single game in Edinboro football history. The performance followed last week’s school-record 328-yard rushing game for Fletcher. Recognizing their contribution to Fletcher’s success, the entire offensive line was named the offensive players of the week for Edinboro.

Clarion was held to just 99 yards rushing and 228 total yards in the game. Bradford said the defense was set on getting their name back into the conversation of top defenses in the country.

“So all week our talk was, ‘I can’t believe we’re not hearing about our defense. We’re hearing about theirs,’” Bradford said. “So I think Coach Neely, our defensive staff, our kids took exception to that.”

Brandon Anderson and Ryan Bischof were named the defensive players of the week after leading the team with 10 and nine tackles, respectively. Sims was given the hammer award, which honors the biggest hit of the game.

The Fighting Scots next take on Indiana University Saturday at noon at Sox Harrison Stadium. The Crimson Hawks are 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the division. Saturday is military appreciation day for Edinboro.

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

Tags: sports, football, psac

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