Football team suffers home opening, 56-26


The Gannon Knights football suffered a tough loss in its first home game of the season.

Timothy Corso, Staff Writer

The Gannon University football team dropped its home opener of the 2021 season, 56-26, to 13th-ranked Shepherd Saturday at McConnell Family Stadium.

The loss left the Knights with a 1-1 record on the young season going into Saturday’s 2 p.m. road matchup against Bloomsburg. The Rams enter the game with a 0-2 record.

Gannon started its matchup with Shepherd strong, scoring on its first possession.

Following an opening kickoff touchback, quarterback Kory Curtis found wide receiver Bransen Stanley for a 46-yard connection to put the Knights inside Shepherd territory at the 29. Shortly after, Curtis found his favorite target from a week ago, wide receiver Sam East, on a 15-yard pass to put Gannon in the red zone.

Two plays later, Curtis connected with tight end Alex Whittaker for an 11-yard score. However, kicker Eric Scarpino missed the extra point, keeping the Gannon lead at 6-0.

The Rams began with good field position as Ryan Beach took the kickoff all the way to the Gannon 35-yard line. After just a six-play drive, quarterback Tyson Bagent, who was a Harlon Hill Trophy nominee in 2018 and 2019, threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Greg Leonard to put the Rams on top, 7-6, following the made extra point.

The Rams went on to score two more touchdowns unanswered on Bagent passes to Beach and Brian Walker, respectively.

The Knights came back with points of their own on a 45-yard field goal from Scarpino, cutting the Shepherd lead to 21-9.

However, the Rams could not be stopped, and they added to their lead with their fourth consecutive touchdown drive.

Bagent found Michael McCook for a 5-yard score and gave Shepherd a commanding 28-9 lead. It was Bagent’s fourth touchdown pass in the game and more than nine minutes remained in the second quarter.

After a couple of drives between both teams that ended with punts, Bagent and Co. went to work.

Bagent threw a 44-yard dime to Josh Gontarek to put Shepherd at the Gannon 4-yard line, where, on the very next play, Bagent found Leonard to give him five touchdown passes for the game. Shepherd led 35-9 and carried that score into halftime.

The second half was much of the same for Gannon; however, the Knights didn’t give up.

After forcing a three-and-out on the Rams’ opening drive of the half, the Knights capped off an 11-play drive with a 25-yard field goal from Scarpino. Gannon now trailed 35-12.

Later, the Knights answered Rams’ running back Ronnie Brown’s 58-yard touchdown run with a touchdown of their own coming courtesy of a Curtis 17-yard strike to East.

Gannon found paydirt once more before the final whistle sounded as Curtis again hit Whittaker on a 23-yard touchdown pass. Whittaker’s touchdown was set up by catches by East for 18 yards and Tyerell Sterger-Cofer for 14 yards.

In the end, the Knight effort wasn’t enough as the Rams claimed victory both on the scoreboard and on the stat sheet.

Shepherd racked up 583 yards of total offense – 363 through the air and 220 on the ground in 34 attempts. Gannon finished with 333 total yards – 81 rushing and 252 passing.

Curtis finished the day 21 of 36 for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Melvin Blanks led the Knights in rushing with just 25 yards on seven carries. East was Curtis’ top receiver, as he hauled in seven passes for 76 yards while Whittaker had 47 on three catches.



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