Gannon football falls to Clarion despite smoldering defense

The Gannon University football team continued its recent losing skid Saturday, falling to fellow Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West member Clarion University, 14-9, in the PSAC West opener for both teams.
The loss left the Knights winless at 0-4 on the season heading into Saturday’s 2 p.m. matchup on the road against Edinboro.
In Saturday’s low-scoring battle at Clarion’s Memorial Stadium, Gannon’s defense finally showed its true potential, allowing just 164 yards of offense. However, the Golden Eagles’ defense was just as good, as it allowed just one touchdown while scoring one of its own to help secure the hard-fought win.
An early collarbone injury to Gannon’s starting quarterback, Jimmy Keefe, forced redshirt sophomore Jason Dambach to take the helm for the rest of the game. Dambach threw for a career-high 270 yards and a touchdown.
Dambach stepped in nicely as a pair of first downs prefaced a 17-yard touchdown pass to Alex Hutchings two minutes into the second quarter, giving Gannon a 7-0 lead.
The Knight defense stepped up once again on the next drive and answered with a stop. But it was short-lived as a sack and recovered fumble in the end zone two plays into the next possession allowed Clarion to draw even with 11 minutes left before the half.
The end of the first half saw similar results to the first, but neither team could punch it in. The final minutes of the second quarter saw four punts, a missed field goal attempt and a kneel-down.
A Jared Morrison punt midway through the third quarter pinned the Golden Eagles down at the 14-yard line. A bad snap saw the ball launch into the end zone, resulting in a safety for Gannon, giving the Knights a 9-7 lead.
Gannon got good field position on the ensuing free kick, but the Knights were forced to punt.
Clarion took advantage of the possession and scored on its longest drive of the day. Jovante Seard’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Dana Jackson capped a six-play, 86-yard march and gave the Golden Eagles a 14-9 lead with 16 seconds left in the period.
Gannon made one final drive to the Clarion 17-yard line, but a pass interference play and a sack on fourth down ended the late threat.
On the game, Gannon’s defense recorded 11 tackles for loss, the second time this season the Knights have recorded double digits in that category.
Clarion, meanwhile, held Marcus Jones – the Knights’ standout running back — to a net 22 yards on 14 carries. Jones, a preseason All-American selection, rushed for 188 yards and four touchdowns last year against the Golden Eagles.
matt fassnacht
[email protected]