Turnovers doom Knights in drubbing at IUP

When it rains, it pours for the Gannon University football team.

The Knights committed four turnovers in a 35-7 loss to Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

In front of an announced crowd of 1,300 at IUP’s George P. Miller Stadium, the Crimson Hawks asserted themselves early, and continued to pile on, as the Knights dropped their second game in a row.

Gannon coach Jim Kiernan said the Knights contributed to IUP’s success.

“IUP played a very good football game, and anytime a team beats you like that, you have to say they played a good game,” Kiernan said. “I think we did some things that contributed to their success. You can’t give them a short field like we did.”

IUP, which improved its to record to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, scored the game’s first 14 points, after starting each drive in Gannon territory.

The Crimson Hawks struck first on a 37-yard touchdown pass following a fumble by Gannon redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Tapscott. The Gannon defense stiffened on the next possession, when it stuffed IUP on a goal-line stand, including a stop on a fourth-and-1 play.

However, Gannon could not register a first down, and gave IUP the ball on its own 20-yard line, following a 12-yard punt.

Quarterback Pat Smith scampered for a 7-yard touchdown drive, as IUP built a 14-point lead that remained intact to the half.

Tapscott, who was making his first start since injuring his shoulder against Mercyhurst on Oct. 1, endured heavy defensive pressure throughout, but said he felt more at ease as the game progressed.

“On the first few possessions, I wasn’t quite up to game speed, so it took a couple of plays to get into a rhythm,” Tapscott said. “In the second half, I think I was a little more comfortable.”

After IUP increased its lead to 21-0 in the third quarter, Tapscott’s poise was on display when he found senior wide receiver Lawrence Coleman for a 7-yard touchdown strike after diagnosing an IUP blitz.

The tandem picked up where they left off, maintaining a connection that produced three touchdowns in Gannon’s 30-27 win over Mercyhurst.

“He’s probably my go-to guy right now,” Tapscott said. “It actually wasn’t the play that was called. He was going to streak across the middle, but after we recognized it as a blitz, he ran to the back of the end zone.”

Tapscott threw for 188 yards on 21-of-38 passes with an interception. Coleman led Gannon with seven catches for 61 yards.

Any Gannon comeback attempt was killed when they gave up touchdown passes of 59 and 73 yards in consecutive drives.

IUP produced 203 rushing yards, which helped seize control of the game’s momentum. In turn, it opened up the play-action passing opportunities, which eventually proved to be the knockout punch.

“The game plan was good, we just missed some assignments, and that’s killed us all season,” senior linebacker Kevin Borton said.

The loss dropped the Knights to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in PSAC play. Gannon will conclude its two-game road trip when it travels to Clarion Saturday.

With just three games remaining, the Knights will have to win them all to avoid their first losing season since 2008.

“The thing about this group of guys is their perseverance and endurance,” Kiernan said. “You’re getting to the end here, and the guys want to prove themselves, and you have to have all the confidence in the world they’ll do it.”

JOE CUNEO

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