Scots talk running attack, defense in early season

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 at 7:47 PM
Scots talk running attack, defense in early season  by George Schmidt
Photo | EU Sports Information

“Keep an eye out for Fletcher.”

Those were words of advice from running backs and special teams coach Kellen O’Neill.

“This kid has worked hard since spring; he is going to be something special.”

Most would write this off as “Coach Speak,” as a coach talking up his own guy. But it didn’t take long for O’Neill’s words to become prophetic. Walter Fletcher had a coming out party Saturday afternoon against the Saint Joseph’s Pumas.

Fletcher, a redshirt freshman from Columbia, Maryland, played for Centennial High School and as a senior rushed for 1,793 yards on 237 carries, a 7.4-yard average, and with 25 touchdowns.

Normally, that wouldn’t immediately translate into collegiate numbers, but Fletcher is showing that the work he put in during the spring and summer is paying off. He picked up right where he left off, averaging 7.5 yards per carry in his first game as an Edinboro Fighting Scot.

Fletcher ran for a combined total of 180 yards on 24 carries Saturday in his first ever college game.

This was highlighted by two carries over 50 yards for touchdowns. He also added 39 yards on 4 receptions to make for a grand total of 219 yards.

The Edinboro Fighting Scots had a total offensive effort of 377 yards.

The back showed uncommon poise and patience when running the ball, allowing his offensive line to create holes. Once those holes were open, he would burst into the secondary, quicker than you could utter his name.

Fletcher performed best when running off the guards, which is where his two longest runs of the game came from, a 50-yard run and a 57-yard run to put the Fighting Scots into the lead for good.

After the game, head coach Justin Lustig stated that “Fletcher has been lights out since we got here in the spring [and] we were kind of expecting him to have a day like that.”

Lustig wrapped up by talking about his performance, “That was kind of neat. I think a lot of people were kind of sleeping on our running backs.”

Scots defense holds on

Adjustments to the Edinboro football team during Saturday’s win — swapping out size for speed — gave the defensive line new life, allowing them to get into the Saint Joseph’s backfield seemingly at will.

The defensive line held the Pumas to a meager 80 yards rushing on 45 attempts. Senior running back and division I transfer Martez Walker managed a 1.9-yard per run average against the Fighting Scots, finishing up with 20 carries for 50 yards A 12-yard loss would bring his total yardage down to 38 yards.

“They really played well. I think that was obvious.” Lustig said.

“I think schematically our number one goal was not to die by the run, not let them establish the run.”

Lustig expanded on that, stating, “Their smaller quarterback was not able to sit back and pass. I liked our plan on defense and our front seven played very well.”

The stifled St. Joe’s running game had Kimble trying to beat them through the air. The defense held them to 349 yards and only 19 completions out of 38 attempts. Senior safety Jake Leber was able to intercept Kimble, returning the ball 21 yards to set up the offense deep in Puma territory.

The Scots front seven, anchored by seniors Victor Hudson, Josh Kibbie and Mike Shansky constantly got the Pumas quarterback off his mark.   When they were not chasing him, they were getting their hands up and disrupting the passing lanes. Kibbie provided the pressure from the nose guard position (up the middle), while Hudson and Shansky brought speed from the outside, collapsing the pocket. Blitz packages even included Mitch Thomas from his position at cornerback. 

Hudson spoke briefly about their defensive success. “It feels great to get this first win. Everyone has been starving for this win, [so] hats off to the coaching staff.”

Hudson continued, “Coach said at the beginning of the game there are always going to be tough scenarios to handle. Everyone on the sideline kept a positive attitude and the score at the end really represented the effort we put forward on the field.”

George Schmidt is a sports writer for EdinboroNow. He can be reached at sports.spectator@gmail.com.

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