Story and photo courtesy of Indiana (Pa.) Athletics
INDIANA, Pa. – Harvie Tuck (Akron, OH/St. Vincent-St. Mary) ran for 231 yards and two touchdowns as 20th-ranked IUP scored 24 second half points en route to a 31-13 victory over Mercyhurst in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West football action on Saturday at George P. Miller Stadium.
It was the fourth time this year that Tuck topped the 200-yard plateau as Division II's leading rusher now has 1,404 yards for the season. He also went over 4,000 career yards during the game and is currently second all-time at IUP with 4,085 rushing yards.
With the win, the Crimson Hawks go to 7-1 on the season, with a 4-1 record in the PSAC West. The loss drops Mercyhurst to 6-2, also 4-1 in the division.
Down 13-7 at the half, IUP wasted no time getting things going in the third quarter as Mike Box (Lawrenceville, GA/Collins Hill) hooked up with Terrill Barnes (Gettysburg/Gettysburg) on the fourth play for a 42-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline. Barnes had to go up for it, out-leaping the defender before beating him in a foot race down the sideline for the score.
With the Crimson Hawks holding a 14-13 lead, Mercyhurst responded with a long 17-play drive that saw the Lakers convert a fourth-and-three at the IUP 31-yard line. Four plays later Mercyhurst would again go for it on fourth down but the pass from Anthony Vendemia to Ozzie Lumpkin fell incomplete.
Fireworks came on IUP's first drive of the fourth quarter, as the Crimson Hawks took over at their own 20-yard line after forcing a Mercyhurst punt. On the first play Tuck would dash off left tackle for 40 yards to the Lakers 40-yard line before De'Antwan Williams (Woodbridge, VA/Woodbridge) matched the run with a 40-yarder of his own, this one going for a touchdown.
Lasting just those two plays, the drive went 80 yards, taking a coincidental 40 seconds off the game clock. The extra point from Brett Ullman (Baltimore, MD/Perry Hall) gave IUP a 21-13 lead with 10:01 left in the game.
After a Mercyhurst three-and-out, the Crimson Hawks put together another scoring drive as Tuck rushed for 44 yards on five carries as Ullman connected on a 30-yard field goal to put IUP on top 24-13 with 5:12 remaining.
The final score of the day came on the next IUP drive, as Tuck bolted 20 yards for a score on a third-and-two play with 1:53 left. The run capped off a great second half for Tuck, who ran 14 times for 154 yards and that score in the third and fourth quarters combined.
Tuck had four runs of over 20 yards, along with a pair of 18-yard dashes, and also added a 49-yard reception in the first quarter.
The Lakers took the lead in the opening quarter on their second drive, going 65 yards in 12 plays as Brandon Brown-Dukes ran it in from one yard out for the touchdown. The ensuing extra point try would get blocked by Carl Thornton (Beaver Falls/Beaver Falls) as the score stayed at 6-0 with 6:57 to go in the first.
IUP took the lead on a 21-yard touchdown run by Tuck on the very next drive, a score that was set up by his 49-yard reception three plays earlier. Mercyhurst got back on top on the very first play of the second quarter as Vendemia scrambled and flipped over the top for a four-yard touchdown to make it 13-7.
Brown-Dukes had the most successful day for an opposing rusher against the IUP defense, running 30 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. The Lakers ended up with 143 rushing yards against a team that entered the game giving up less than 53 yards per game.
Vendemia finished 10-of-23 for 125 yards through the air, getting picked by Johnny Franco (Altoona/Tyrone) in the first quarter and was sacked twice. His top target was Paris Bruner who had three catches for 42 yards.
Averaging 390 yards and 34 points entering Saturday, the Lakers were limited by the IUP defense to 268 yards and 13 points, gaining only 13 first downs on the day.
IUP ran for 290 yards with Williams running nine times for 68 yards and a score to add to Tuck's total. Box finished 7-of-14 for 126 yards and a touchdown through the air, connecting with Barnes three times for 61 yards and that score.
Defensively Alexander Berdahl (Ashburn, VA/Bishop O'Connell) led IUP with 12 total tackles while Carl Fleming (Reisterstown, MD/Franklin) added 10 on the day. Chris Brown (Altoona/Bishop Guilfoyle) stepped up with seven tackles, including two behind the line-of-scrimmage while Shane Meisner (Greensburg/Hempfield ) and Thornton combined for IUP's two sacks.
The big win for the Crimson Hawks comes in advance of the release of season's first regional rankings on Monday. Bloomsburg and Shippensburg - which both have perfect 8-0 records - are expected to be ranked high, as is 7-1 California (PA).
IUP starts the final stretch of the regular season next weekend at home against Clarion (4-4, 2-3).