Edinboro Fighting Scots wear down Lake Erie College to win season opener

Category:  Sports
Thursday, September 7th, 2017 at 12:53 PM
Edinboro Fighting Scots wear down Lake Erie College to win season opener by Mike Lantinen
Photo: Michael Lantinen

After almost completely different 2016 campaigns, the Edinboro Fighting Scots and Lake Erie Storm took the field to open the college football season. After losing 14 consecutive games, the Storm were looking to change their luck at Sox Harrison Stadium, facing an Edinboro squad that saw the best turnaround in division two football the previous season.

Both teams trended in about the same direction, with Edinboro opening the season with a runaway win, 30-3.

On a cold and windy September day, interim head coach Wayne Bradford entered his 19th year and first at the helm. Unable to take advantage of Lake Erie’s early turnovers, the Scots offense looked shaky to start. Place kicker Mike Cushma was the first to score, notching a 26-yard field goal.

A new wrinkle in the Fighting Scots gameplan was noticed when starting quarterback Jake Sisson took a snap on fourth down, fielding it as a punt, and sending it the other direction. With no return man, the Storm were unable to field the ball like they would have liked, flipping the field.

Lead back Walter Fletcher was the second to score when he broke loose for a 28-yard touchdown run. Fletcher, a redshirt sophomore, will likely be the featured back throughout the year, complimented by scat back Kyle Galyk.

“I think everyone started to relax. We were running our stuff well in the beginning, but once that play happened, I felt we calmed downed a bit and we got our confidence back. Once that happened everyone started clicking and we made 

plays, enough to win the game,” Fletcher said in an interview with WFSE Radio’s play-by-play analyst Mike Schmidt.

Back and forth action continued throughout the first half, leaving very limited results. Seven of the 18 possessions ended in turnovers, whether it be from interception, fumble or a loss of downs. Multiple times, possession was lost during red zone attacks, costing both teams.

Defensive end Jon Girvin touched on the mentality you need in red zone situations: “Coach Neely calls that man up time. That’s when the men come out and play down there in the trenches.”

Once in the second and another time in the third that hard-nosed play in the “trenches” saved Edinboro when they forced fumbles on their own six and 11-yard lines.

“It was definitely good to get a sack first game senior year. I feel like that’s just going to bleed over to next week and keep going and going,” Girvin said of his effort.

The second half brought a much needed uptick in efficiency as the offense seemed to finally find balance. After a roughing the passer call that brought back an interception, Sisson rose to the occasion, taking on the “next play” mentality. His success came from working the middle of the field with the explosive Ta’Nauz Gregory, former Don Hansen NCAA Division II Freshman of the Year.

Gregory’s first score came on a pass from midfield that he took in from the 20, breaking two tackles along the way. A similar play in which Gregory worked the sideline in an out-route found him free once again, gaining most of his yards after contact, as he tends to do.

On the defensive side, the secondary seemed to make noticeable jumps in terms of coverage abilities, capitalizing with four interceptions for the day.

“It was a good week of hard work in the secondary and coach Bradford, Neely and Hoff just getting us prepared to know what they are going to run and what’s coming at us,” cornerback Zuril Hendricks said.

The final score of the game came with 1:20 remaining when Hendricks intercepted the ball and returned it for a touchdown. This was his third of the evening, not quite a single game record for the Scots, which will continue to be held by Jody Dickerson and Bob Jacobs.

Edinboro came away with the win this week, but not without some areas of worry moving forward. In total offense, Edinboro only outgained Lake Erie by 10 yards. The Storm’s rushing attack was more dominant, earning 80 more yards on the ground.

“We’re confident. We want to win the PSAC. We put in the time and effort so they are a team you can’t sleep on, you can’t sleep on any team in the PSAC, and our goal is to win the game no matter how many mental errors or what the score is; we just want a win at the end of the day,” Fletcher said.

The team also mentioned it being Bradford’s first game as head coach.

“It feels great because we know coach Bradford works his butt off everyday and for us to come out here and dominate like we did and get his first win as a coach means the world to us,” Hendricks said.

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

Tags: sports, football

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