Jimmy Keefe’s school record-tying five touchdown passes lifted Gannon University to a 51-35 Homecoming victory over visiting Clarion Saturday at McConnell Family Stadium.
Keefe threw for 368 yards – eighth all-time for a single game at Gannon – and in the process he went over the 3,000-yard mark for his career. He now stands sixth all-time in that category.
The victory in the Knights’ Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West opener left Gannon with an overall record of 2-2 going into Saturday’s noon battle with Edinboro at McConnell Family Stadium.
While Keefe had an exceptional offensive game, true freshman Jayden Ashby shined on defense, as he picked off a pair of Clarion passes and also made six tackles. For his efforts, Ashby was named the PSAC West Defensive Athlete of the Week Monday.
Gannon jumped on the scoreboard first when Keefe connected with Tyger Winston on a 51-yard touchdown pass on the Knights’ first possession of the game.
On the next Gannon possession Melvin Blanks accounted for 43 yards and a touchdown on the 70-yard, six-play drive to set the score 14-0. Blanks’ touchdown came on a 21-yard run.
At the start of the second quarter, Gannon’s Aaron Webb picked off Michael Proiosis and took the ball to Clarion’s 26. It took three plays for Keefe to pick up his second touchdown of the day, a 23-yard pass to Johnny Freeman, which made it 20-0.
On Clarion’s next drive, Gannon’s A.J. Satcher intercepted a Jeff Clemens pass to give the Knights the ball near midfield. Zevin Holley was able to punch the ball in the end zone from 5 yards out to extend the lead to 27-0.
Clarion finally found the end zone with 10 minutes left in the half when Clemens connected with Marcus McCoy on a 25-yard scoring pass, cutting the Gannon lead to 27-7.
The Knights got the ball back and immediately scored their fifth touchdown of the day on a 75-yard Keefe to Joey Cox connection.
A blocked field goal recovered by Satcher set the Knights up for a 58-yard touchdown completion from Keefe to Holley to set the score 41-7 with 44 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Knights never were challenged in the second half and managed to put two more scores on the scoreboard – Keefe’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Cox early in the third quarter and Eric Scarpino’s season-long 41-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter that made the score 51-35.
Keefe needed just 11 completions to amass his career-high 368 passing yards and five scores.
The Knights outgained Clarion on the ground, 224-182, but no Gannon back topped the 100-yard mark. Blanks ran for 93 yards and a touchdown in 12 attempts and Holley earned 60 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown.
Cox was Gannon’s reception leader with 113 yards and two touchdowns on just three catches. Three other Knights were on the receiving end of Keefe touchdown passes: Winston, Holley and Freeman.
On the defensive side, Ashby was aided by Satcher, who finished with eight tackles to go with his interception while Webb added seven stops and one interception.
Gannon will look to move to 2-0 in the PSAC West when winless (0-4) Edinboro visits.
The Fighting Scots hold a 9-4 edge in the all-time series with Gannon and last year came away with a 31-24 victory.