Football dominates Clarion 56-21


Michael Guido, Managing & Sports Editor

The Gannon University football team added to the celebration of Homecoming weekend with a dominating 56-21 victory over Clarion Saturday at McConnell Family Stadium.

The Knights improved to 2-2 on the season by exploding on offense, accumulating 437 yards of total offense while seeing key playmakers contribute to a matchup that saw the Gannon offense score seven touchdowns.

The Knights got off to a hot start when quarterback Kory Curtis drove the offense 75 yards on 10 plays, setting up a touchdown pass to tight end Alex Whittaker.

Curtis was solid on the drive, going 6 for 6 for 45 yards passing and even adding a 23-yard run down to the Golden Eagles’ 7-yard line.

In addition to the prowess of the offense, the Gannon defense showed its ability to make big plays, as a bad shotgun snap from Clarion allowed defensive lineman Nick White to take the ball all the way the Golden Eagles’ 5-yard line, which set up another Curtis touchdown pass, this time to wide receiver Antonio Wright. That gave the Knights a 14-0 lead with 8:06 remaining in the first quarter.

Another Clarion turnover, this time an interception that fell into the hands of defensive back Sir Giles, resulted in a six-play drive that allowed Curtis to score a touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 4:06 left. The Knights exited the first quarter up 21-0.

However, the play of the game was defensive lineman Malachi Woody’s strip of the ball from the hands of Mylique McGriff.

After starting at its own 30, Clarion drove all the way down to the goal line, only for Woody to strip the ball, which resulted in linebacker Keith Thompson taking the fumble back 99 yards down the left sidelines for a touchdown. It was the longest fumble return in Gannon history and gave the Knights a 28-0 lead with 14:45 left in the half.

Head coach Erik Raeburn said that early turnovers were the key for building momentum.

“We capitalized on each one,” Raeburn said.

Raeburn said that the momentum built of each turnover helped drive the Knights to victory.

“It looks like they are going in for a score and we get one instead,” Raeburn said. “A 14-point swing and most pivotal play in the game.”

After the Golden Eagles got on the board with a four-play, 65-yard drive, the Knights returned the favor with a Melvin Blanks 4-yard touchdown score that followed a 35-yard kickoff return by wide receiver Chaz Davis, a 31-yard pass from Curtis to wide receiver Sam East and a 12-yard run by Curtis. The score put Gannon up 35-7 with 11:35 left in the half.

The Knights began the second half with a 42-14 lead after both teams exchanged touchdowns within a minute midway through the second quarter.

At the 7:42 mark of the third quarter, Clarion cut the deficit, making the score 42-21.

However, Gannon rebounded immediately, with Curtis moving the offense 58 yards in just two plays, which set up a 35-yard pass from Curtis to wide receiver KeJohn Batiste. That made the score 49-21 in favor of the Knights.

Gannon put the nail in the coffin early in the fourth quarter, with Blanks taking the ball 32 yards for a score, giving the Knights a 56-21 lead, which would be the final.

Curtis enjoyed an outstanding afternoon, completing 17 of 31 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns. Curtis also added 29 yards rushing on nine carries with a fifth score.

A few of Curtis’ targets also had a good day, with East accumulating four catches for 66 yards and Damerisse Freeman adding three catches for 65 yards. Interestingly, 10 different Knights’ caught at least one pass.

Blanks had a solid performance, leading the game in rushing yards with 96 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Had Blanks gotten four more yards, it would’ve been his third 100-yard effort of the season.

Wright also added 48 yards on eight carries.

Raeburn said that the combination of offensive weapons contributed to a dynamic unit that executed.

“We have been able to spread the ball around because we have so many weapons,” Raeburn said. “It’s a huge problem for the defense when most of your yards don’t go through the same player.”

Raeburn said he thinks as the offense becomes more consistent, it will become more efficient.

Coming off this decisive win, the Knights will hit the road, traveling to play Indiana University of Pennsylvania at 2 p.m. Saturday.


[email protected]