Story and photo courtesy of Bloomsburg Athletics
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. – The game-plan was clear for the 10th-ranked Bloomsburg University football team against Gannon University Saturday afternoon: run the football. Bloomsburg rushed for 483 yards, the most since 2004, in a 43-24 win over Gannon at Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium.
Junior running back Franklyn Quiteh (Tobyhanna/Pocono Mountain West) became Bloomsburg's third 4,000-yard rusher in school-history with his second 200-yard performance of the season. He rushed for 202 yards on 26 carries and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Huskies on the ground.
For his career, Quiteh has totaled 4,034 rushing yards. He is one of 11 runners in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) to eclipse the 4,000-yard mark and currently ranks ninth all-time.
The Huskies (5-0 overall) also received a tremendous outing from Quiteh's running-mate Eddie Mateo (Bethlehem/Freedom). Mateo ran for 180 yards on 17 carries for an impressive 10.6 average. 122 of his 180 yards came in the first half on just six carries including a 74-yard dash down the sideline in the first quarter.
The rushing outage was the most for Bloomsburg since it ran for 541 yards against Cheyney in 2004. It was also the eighth time Quiteh and Mateo have each rushed for over 100 yards in the same game.
Bloomsburg outgained Gannon 483-58 on the ground in the Golden Knights' (1-4) lowest rushing performance of the season. It was also the most yards ran against Gannon by over 240 from when it allowed 241 to Lake Erie in its season-opener.
Despite the lopsided final score, the Huskies had to come-from-behind in the second half to keep its undefeated season alive. Gannon led 24-21 early in the third quarter, but Bloomsburg racked up 22 consecutive points off three touchdowns to silence the potential Golden Knight upset.
Tim Kelly (Camp Hill/Cedar Cliff) threw three touchdown passes on the afternoon for the Huskies, all coming in the first half. Half of his passes went for scores as he finished the day 6-for-18 through the air with a pair of interceptions.
Three Bloomsburg receivers caught a pass Saturday, and all of which scored a touchdown. Kyle Fisher (Denver/Cocalico) was Kelly's top target with three catches for 58 yards and a touchdown before exiting in the first half with an injury. Fellow seniors Ryan Dickerson (Harleysville/Souderton) and Ryan Maggs (Beech Creek/Central Mountain) also caught TD passes.
Just about every member of the Bloomsburg defense played a hand in the victory. Gannon rushers were met by a host of Bloomsburg linebacker's time-after-time, and seven pass breakups and an interception told the story of the BU passing defense.
Up front, senior defensive end Larry Webster (Hagerstown, MD/Elkton) continued his aggressive play with 2.5 sacks. It was a career-high for Webster who entered the weekend leading the conference in total sacks. He now has 7.5 through five games. His five tackles were also a career-best.
A Gannon 20-yard field goal put the first points on the board Saturday. However, it easily could have been a touchdown had it not been for a pair of talented Husky linebackers coming up with some big plays. Content on running the football on second-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Gannon was stopped on back-to-back attempts by earth-shattering tackles from Justin Shirk (Harrisburg/Central Dauphin) and Jarrett Pidgeon (Barnegat, NJ/Southern Regional) on second and third-down, respectively.
Overall, Pidgeon led the team with nine tackles including six solo stops. Shirk tallied eight tackles and a pass breakup that nearly turned into a second interception for the Huskies.
Kelly and Bloomsburg responded to the Gannon field goal on a long third-and-goal attempt from 15 yards out. Set up by a 39-yard Quiteh run earlier in the drive, Kelly flipped a shovel pass to Maggs for his second receiving touchdown of the season.
The Kelly strike was the first of three unanswered TD passes for Bloomsburg, coming on consecutive drives. Also on a third-and-goal attempt outside the 10-yard line, Kelly threw a high pass to Dickerson who went up and brought down the touchdown.
Fisher, this week's PSAC East Offensive Player of the Week, also caught a TD pass from the redshirt freshman quarterback, marking his team-leading fifth of the season. Following a 29-yard run by Mateo, Fisher made a spectacular grab over his back shoulder and ran into the end zone for a 38-yard strike to grow the lead to 21-10.
Gannon turned a Kelly interception into a quick six points with a TD pass on its first play of the drive to bring the game to within four at 21-17 heading into halftime.
With Gannon's early score to take the lead in the second half, Bloomsburg had to find a way to get the game and its home crowd back on its feet. Sophomore DJ Robinson (Sinking Spring/Conrad Weiser) nearly took a kick return to the house as a 74-yard return put the Huskies at the Gannon 6-yard line. Quiteh made the most of the Robinson return the following play with his first rushing touchdown of the day.
Bloomsburg head coach Danny Hale reached into his bag of tricks following the Quiteh TD run and caught the Golden Knight special team's unit sleeping. Kicker Dan Fisher (Liverpool/Central Dauphin) took the direct snap from long snapper Ian Murray (Lock Haven/Central Mountain) and threw it to Webster for the two-point conversion.
From there the Bloomsburg defense, along with one final score from Mateo, would secure the Bloomsburg victory. The closest the Golden Knights came to scoring again was midway through the fourth quarter when it drove down to the Bloomsburg 23-yard line. BU senior defensive back Dan Haverstock (York/West York) made sure to take advantage of the freshman Gannon quarterback's throwing mistake and intercepted a long pass to seal the victory.
On the other side of the ball, the passing attack was Gannon's largest asset and it showed that if it was going to come out with a victory against the Huskies, it would need to throw for big numbers.
Freshman quarterback Liam Nadler threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns on 30-for-46 passing and an interception. His top target was Justin Caliste with ten catches for 74 yards.
Joe Sobucki also played a hand in the Gannon offense with six catches for 80 yards and a score. Abraham Ocasio entered the game third in the conference, averaging 97.75 receiving yards per game. The BU secondary limited his yardage to 48 on five catches, but allowed Ocasio to haul in a pair of TD passes from Nadler.
Defensively, Mike Phillips had a game-high 17 tackles and was one of four Golden Knights with double-digit tackles. Will Giles (15), Khayree Connors (15), and Jon Petrigac (10) were all active in trying to limit the potent Bloomsburg attack.
Bloomsburg returns to PSAC Eastern Division play next weekend with a road contest on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Millersville University (1-4, 0-2 PSAC East). Bloomsburg has not lost to the Marauders since a 31-21 defeat in 1999 as kickoff on Oct. 6 is set for 12:30 p.m.