The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

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Gannon holds on in season opener

The Gannon University football team opened the 2015 season the same way it started the 2014 campaign – beating Southern Connecticut State.

The Golden Knights (1-0) held off an SCSU comeback for a 26-22 win at Jess Dow Field on Saturday.

Gannon led by as many as 23 in the third quarter, but the offense was unable to get the ball in the end zone early on.

The Owls (0-1) stopped the Knights on their first two drives of the game– not allowing Gannon past midfield – but the Gannon defense would change that on the next possession.

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Trailing 3-0, senior Trenton Donald forced a fumble while sacking quarterback Robert Nittolo at his own 15-yard line, setting up the Gannon offense in prime field positon.

It wouldn’t take long before senior quarterback Liam Nadler connected with Jesstin Hamm on a 3-yard touchdown pass to take a 6-3 lead after a failed extra-point attempt.

On the following SCSU drive, the Gannon defense forced another turnover, this time coming from junior Mike Zander, who forced Nittolo to fumble again, before Qwaheem Marshall recovered it at the Owls’ 18-yard line.

Nadler would only need two snaps to punch it in.

Nadler found sophomore Brendan Klemensic for a 16-yard gain, before Nadler ran it in for a 2-yard TD.

Coach Brad Rzyczycki said the chances they take on defense are what allows the Knights to come up with big stops.

“The two turnovers inside the red zone are because of what we do defensively – we are high-risk, high-reward with that side of the ball,” Rzyczycki said.

Nadler credited the defensive stops for allowing the offense to find its stride.

“Our defense put us in such good positions – it definitely gave us a little boost, gave us a little jump start,” Nadler said.

The little jump start was all the offense needed, as the Knights tacked on another score to take a 20-3 advantage heading into the half.

Gannon didn’t miss a beat coming out the locker room.

Thanks to good field positon again, this time from Brandon Mansell, who ran back the opening kickoff 43 yards to the Gannon 47-yard line.

Eight plays later Brock Jones capped off a 2-minute, 45-second drive with a 17-yard run to the end zone, giving Gannon its largest lead of the day, 26-3.

The Owls would control much of the contest after that.

Three touchdown passes from Nittolo to Devante Jenkis cut the Gannon lead to four with 3:17 remaining.

Gannon then recovered an on-side kick and ran out the clock.

Rzyczycki said despite some setbacks, getting win No. 1 under the belt is always good.

“We faced some adversity and came out with a win,” Rzyczycki said. “I couldn’t be happier for the kids.”

Hamm, who finished with four catches for 39 yards and two TDs, credited the coaching staff for having the team ready for the opener.

“Having a road game is a little nerve racking, because you don’t have the comfort of being at home, but at the same time coach (Rzyczycki) makes sure we are well-prepared and I think we were,” Hamm said.

 

DOMINIC SANSONE

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