Football team rebounds with win, moves to 3-4


Michael Guido, Managing & Sports Editor

After a tough 38-17 loss to California University of Pennsylvania that saw the Gannon University football team fall to a 2-4 record, the Knights rebounded with a 14-10 win over Seton Hill Saturday.

In its matchup with 15th-ranked Cal U, Gannon struggled against Division II’s top-ranked scoring defense, total defense and passing defense.

While the Knights were able to get on the board in the first half, something no California opponent has been able to do this season, they were unable to counter the ferocious Vulcans offense, which put up 24 points in the first half and eventually carried a 31-10 lead into halftime.

The Gannon defense tried to hold on in the second half, but another touchdown increased the Vulcan lead to 38-10 at the 6:35 mark.

The Knights offense cut the lead with an Antonio Wright touchdown that followed a possession in which Gannon reached the Cal U 1-yard line, but the Knights were unable to convert and ultimately fell to 2-4 on the season.

In the midst of their loss to California, the Knights offense had some stars to look at; running back Melvin Blanks averaged 4.6 yards per carry while totaling 51 yards of offense and a touchdown. Meanwhile wide receivers Johnny Freeman, Bransen Stanley and Sam East accounted for 172 total yards of offense.

The Knights ended up rebounding Saturday against Seton Hill, featuring a strong defensive performance and a solid running game that resulted in victory.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Knights got on the board first, with wide receiver Alex Whittaker pulling in a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kory Curtis, which capped off a 10-play, 97-yard drive.

After Gannon exited halftime with a 7-0 lead, the Griffins got on the board with a safety due to offensive holding in the end zone by the Knights, which negated a 30-yard gain by Whittaker in the process.

The Griffins had an earlier chance to score following an 11-play, 74-yard drive to open the third quarter that put them at the 5-yard line; however, Griffins’ running back Logan Wiland had four straight carries that went nowhere, resulting in a turnover on downs.

It was the work of Gannon linebacker Rhakim Williams, who stuffed Wiland on a third-and-goal situation, and defensive lineman Joseph Loiseau, who stuffed the line forcing the turnover on downs.

The Griffins would take the lead following the free kick after the safety, as they drove 61 yards on nine plays, culminating in a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake McCormick to Taro Gaither. McCormick then followed that up with a pass to John Makell IV for the two-point conversion that gave the Griffins a 10-7 lead with 4:54 left in the quarter.

With fury, the Knights responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Blanks on third-and-goal, giving the Knights a 14-10 lead with just 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

On the drive, Blanks carried the ball five straight times for 36 yards and was assisted by a Seton Hill penalty. Antonio Wright also assisted on the drive, rushing for eight yards, followed by Blanks’ 10 yards on two carries, then Wright returning to pick up three yards before Blanks finished the drive.

Blanks was the leader of the offense, rushing for 95 yards on 25 carries, which were both career highs. His touchdown run ended up being the game winner.

The fourth quarter would remain scoreless, as the Knights’ defense put the nail in the coffin, ending the Griffins’ last possession with an interception. Kwan Mickens was responsible for the big play at midfield with just over two minutes left in the game.

Blanks finished it off, converting a third-and-5 from the Griffins’ 45 that resulted in a 44-yard gain and allowed the Knights to take three knees and run out the clock.

The Knights offense accumulated 386 total yards against Seton Hill, which came into the game ranked third in the PSAC for total defense.

The offense, which did not commit a turnover, was led by Curtis, who was 7-of-21 with 109 yards.

Damerisse Freeman Jr. had three catches for 38 yards.

The Knights will return home Saturday with a matchup against local rival Edinboro at noon at McConnell Family Stadium.

That game will be followed up with the home finale against Slippery Rock Oct. 30.


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