Gannon Rides Big Second Half to 42-7 Win over LHU
Written by: William Albright on Sunday, October 17th, 2010
LOCK HAVEN — When the Gannon University football team invaded Hubert Jack Stadium Saturday afternoon for its meeting with Lock Haven, the Knights were hoping to bounce back over the .500 mark.
On the other side of the field, the Bald Eagles were just hoping for a couple of bounces of their own to get them out of the losing funk that spanned the previous 27 games.
However, as fate would have it for LHU, the bounces didn’t go their way as they fell for the 28th straight time, dropping a 42-7 verdict to the Knights on LHU Homecoming 2010.
“We’re running out of bodies,” said LHU head coach John Klacik. “We started a kid at quarterback who was a wide receiver until Tuesday. “We had to put Jarrod (Burkett) in there and as it turned out, we might have lost him with an injury. We are just running out of bodies and this is a game that is hard to play without depth. All of those guys out there on offense and defense are also on special teams. But part of that is our choice we made to redshirt 25 guys. This time of the year when you are banged up it really shows on the course of a 60-minute game.”
The Eagles battled the Knights to a scoreless first period. Despite spending a lot of time on the field while their counterparts were only amassing a dozen yards, the LHU defense played tough, holding the Knights short of the sticks several times that resulted in a pair of missed field goals.
Continuing to play hard, the LHU defense held the Knights scoreless for the remainder of the first half as the two teams heading for the locker room with Gannon holding a 7-0 lead. The Bald Eagles had one final opportunity to put points on the board in the opening half following a 40-yard completion to Jesse Hoover that carried to the Gannon 33.
“They (the LHU defense) did some good things,” praised Klacik. “They tackled well and when they got down in there in the red zone, we pressured them (Gannon) into three missed field goals. I thought our defense played hard.”
Bald Eagle linebacker Nick Gounaris felt the game plan going in was a good one.
“They run a lot of boot and rollout every time we kept pressing them,” said Gounaris. “We have one of our running backs who is 5-foot, six inches tall and he is playing safety. He stepped up and gave us a good effort. But it is hard to deal with because we have a lot of injuries. All we can do is play to the end and I feel we have been doing that.”
Although sitting back on their heels might happen to some teams, but not the Bald Eagles.
“On some teams that might happen, but here, until there are double zeros on the clock, we just go as hard as we can,” said Gounaris. “I keep emphasizing that you have to keep playing hard right to the end and the one thing you can’t do is quit. You have to give it your all.”
Leading 7-0, the Knights blew the game open as they scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half to extend their lead to 21-0.
“Our third quarters have not been real good to us,” said Klacik. “The third quarters have caused us a lot of problems and we have to find a way to fix that.”
As though the Bald Eagles weren’t having more than their share of problems, after moving into Gannon territory, Terry Turnover showed up in the form of a fumble that landed into the arms of Gannon defensive back Chris Cook who took the ball in stride. Fifty-eight yards later, Cook completed his trip to The House for the touchdown and a 28-0 lead.
“We are playing a kid who hasn’t thrown a pass in two years,” Klacik noted. “That limits us to what we are able to do and what we are capable of doing. Considering that, we have to execute even better than we might have to.”
The Bald Eagles came right back aided by several personal foul calls against Gannon to get on the board for the only time in the game on a 15-yard run by quarterback Jarryd Burkett. Former Central Mountain athlete Noah Heimer added the PAT to cut the Gannon lead to 28-7.
Burkett took a chapter out of a Harry Houdini magic show as he appeared to be totally bottled up by the Gannon defenders, only to find his way out of the muddle as he cut to the left and outraced the Gannon secondary for the score.
“Really it was my mistake that led to the play,” said Burkett. “I wanted to throw off the guy and I never threw it. Fortunately he missed the tackle, I was able to escape from the pile, the receiver blocked for me downfield and I was able to get into the end zone. It was my fault that the play blew up, but it worked out for the better.”
Unfortunately for Burkett, shortly after his TD jaunt, he left the game with a preliminary diagnosis of a torn groin.
As for Burkett and the running backs, most of the afternoon was spent running for their lives as the Gannon defensive unit kept the pressure on from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.
“The only thing they differently was they came out in a different front than we had seen,” said Burkett. “We watched film all week and we studied them hard. We expected them to come out in a weak front and they came out in a strong front. We tried to make some adjustments and went with it.”
Following the Burkett score, the Knights came back to score two more times to set the final. At one point in the fourth quarter, Gannon was penalized twice as many yards as the LHU offense could generate. For the game, Gannon was flagged 11 times for 138 yards while the LHU offense could only muster 72 net yards rushing.
The Bald Eagles will be right back in action Saturday when they make the trip out I-80 to Slippery Rock for another PSAC-West confrontation with The Rock. Kickoff for that contest is set for 2 p.m.
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