Football team wins first game in overtime thriller


Wide receiver Sam East (20) celebrates with a teammate in end zone after a touchdown.

Michael Guido, Managing & Sports Editor

Gannon University football team kicked off its 2021 season on the road in Midland, Mich., with a thrilling 28-21 overtime victory against the Northwood Timberwolves Thursday night.

The Knights entered the game with an 0-3 all-time record against Northwood, but quickly cemented themselves as tough opponents.

After a mostly scoreless first quarter, the Timberwolves got on the board first with a 32-yard Parker Blust field goal that gave them a 3-0 lead. However, the Knights quickly responded with a 78-yard drive that resulted in a 1-yard Melvin Blanks touchdown that put Gannon up 7-3.

Blanks would finish the night with 102 yard rushing and one touchdown while averaging 6.4 yard per carry.

A 26-yard field goal by Northwood’s Blust with 13 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the second period cut Gannon’s lead to 7-6, and that’s the way it remained at halftime.

The Knights added to their lead in the third quarter, orchestrating an eight-play, 89-yard drive that culminated in wide receiver Isaiah Pae hauling in an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kory Curtis with 2:24 left in the period. That made it 14-6 in favor of Gannon.

The fourth quarter was when the action took place. Northwood’s Cashual Goldsmith broke off a 55-yard touchdown run early in the quarter, and the PAT kick tied the score at 14-14.

The Knights took advantage of a short field later in the quarter, thanks to defensive lineman Jay Bullock, whose blocked punt gave Gannon possession at the Timberwolves’ 31-yard line with 12 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the game.

Gannon’s offense responded by taking a 21-14 lead on a 9-yard scoring pass from Curtis to wide receiver Sam East.

However, the Timberwolves did not go down without a fight. After a 43-yard punt by Isaac West put the ball at the Timberwolves’ 5-yard line with just three minutes remaining, an 11-play, 95-yard drive resulted in a 1-yard run by running back Goldsmith with 18 seconds remaining that tied the game at 21-21 after the extra point.

Key penalties, such as a holding call on a fourth-and-10 play, aided the Timberwolves’ effort.

In the end, the Knights got the last laugh, as a 25-yard touchdown pass from Curtis to East resulted in a 28-21 lead on the first possession of overtime after the extra point from kicker Eric Scarpino.

Northwood then gained possession but after a short pass completion and no gain on a Goldsmith run, Gannon’s Khwan Mickens picked off a Nate Gomez pass at the Knights’ 14-yard line, and that was the game.

Overall, the Knights offense was the story of the night, with key playmakers making the difference.

In his first start Curtis, a former Ohio State player, took command, completing 17-of-37 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns to two interceptions. Curtis completed passes to eight different receivers and also added 25 yards of rushing.

One of those receivers, East, finished the game with seven receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns, setting career highs for receptions and yards while also tying his career high for touchdowns receiving.

The offensive line stood strong, allowing only one sack and helping Gannon to rush for 143 yards.

The defense also turned in a strong performance, with players such as Bullock, Chris Farnsworth, who had a team-best 10 tackles, Reginald Hamlette Jr., who had his first career interception as well as eight tackles, and Nick White, who had six stops, three of which went for lost yardage and a sack, combining to help hold the Timberwolves to just 21 points.

Starting the 2021 season off 1-0, the Knights will return to Erie for their home opener at noon Saturday at McConnell Family Stadium, as they host the Shepherd Rams in a PSAC crossover showdown.

The Rams were ranked as the preseason favorites in the PSAC East.


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