Edinboro (3-1) hosts Gannon (0-4) in conference matchup on Saturday at 12 p.m. as part of STN’s College Game of the Week.
After a 3-0 start to the season, Edinboro will return home with a blemish on the record after a tough fought 40-35 loss at California (Pa.). Edinboro took a 35-34 lead with 8:01 left to play, but couldn’t hold on, as Noah Mitchell found Tyson Hill for 18 yards and a score with 5:20 remaining. Gannon dropped to 0-4 in a tightly contested battle of its own, falling 14-9 to Clarion. Clarion scored a 34 yard touchdown with 16 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter to take a 14-9 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Edinboro was able to make a game out of it despite being out-gained by 200 yards in the contest. The Fighting Scots picked off four passes in the game, winning the turnover battle six to three. Andrew Tomko completed just 30 percent of his passes, throwing for 143 yards and a score. The signal caller added 41 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Walter Fletcher found the end zone twice on the ground for Edinboro.
Zuril Hendrick made eight tackles in the contest and accounted for two of the teams four interceptions on the day. Brandon Anderson led the team with 13 stops and a fumble recovery, while Trey Hall and Branson Smith also came away with interceptions.
For the Gannon offense, Jason Dambach was forced into action and threw for 270 yards and the lone touchdown of the day. Thanks to yards lost due to sacks, the Golden Knights netted -26 yards on the ground. Dontae Owens led the team with 91 receiving yards and Alex Hutchings caught the lone touchdown.
Keith Thompson led the way defensively in a stellar outing, making seven tackles and picking up 1.5 sacks. Despite forcing ten Clarion punts, the Golden Knights were unable to force a turnover in the contest.
Brad Rzyczycki’s Golden Knights will hope the defensive effort continues against the Fighting Scots who have been stellar this season. Rzyczycki’s bunch is averaging 20.25 points per game while allowing 32 points.
Dambach made his first throws of the year last weekend, replacing Jimmy Keefe. Keefe has thrown for 658 yards and four scores in four games this season, but has a completion percentage below 50. After a 160-yard performance to open the year, tailback Marcus Jones has slowed a bit, but easily paces the team with 315 yards and two scores. Joey Cox leads the receiving group with 25 catches for 259 yards and one touchdown.
Martell Davis leads the Golden Knights with 23 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Three different players have intercepted passes for Gannon, as they have forced just five turnovers in four games. Malik Bridgeman leads the team with 3.5 tackles for loss and has also chipped in with a pick and a forced fumble.
Gannon will need to be on their A-game defensively to slow down the Fighting Scots, averaging over 43 points per game. Edinboro averages over 400 yards of total offense per game this season. Tomko has been inefficient, completing just 44 percent of his throws, but does have 827 yards and seven passing touchdowns. He’s added two rushing touchdowns in 2018, as well. Walter Fletcher has a nose for the end zone, scoring eight times while gaining over 400 yards on the ground. Ta’Nauz Gregory is the big-play threat, averaging over 20 yards per catch on 20 receptions and scoring five times.
Defensively, the Fighting Scots allow just 20 points per game. Before allowing 40 last week to California (Pa.), Edinboro had allowed just 40 points through three games. Talk about ball hawks, the Scots have intercepted 14 passes, recovered eight fumbles and sacked the quarterback 11 times so far this year. Hendrick has four interceptions to go with 24 tackles and a fumble forced. Billy DePaul has chipped in with three picks and Derek Dorr leads the way with four sacks.
Edinboro looks like they could improve off last year’s 7-4 record in Wayne Bradford’s first season as head coach. Bradford served the 2017 season under the interim tag. The Fighting Scots will be hoping to avenge last year’s 47-25 loss to the Golden Knights. After a 5-6 season a year ago, Gannon is hopeful they can put one in the win column on Saturday after a slow start.
TIME: Saturday, September 29th, 2 p.m.
WATCH LIVE: WSEE CW 35.2, WPNT 22 The Point
ANNOUNCERS: Geoff Arnold (play-by-play), Varun Raghupathi (analyst), Jordan Conigliaro (sidelines)