Courtesy of Fairmont State Athletics
CLARION, Pa. - Fairmont State used three turnovers and came up with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to come away with a stunning 27-16 victory over Clarion on Thursday night.
The Falcons (1-0) were out-gained on the night by 494-217, but the defense held Clarion to just one touchdown on the night.
Ryland Newman came up with a big interception return for a touchdown to help turn the tide for the Falcons in the second half. Garrett Davis was outstanding in his first start with nine tackles including one for a loss and broke up a pass that led to an interception. Patrick Pinchinat led a balanced FSU ground attack with 43 yards and two scores. Freshman quarterback was 8-19 for 69 yards but did not turn the ball over.
Zack Page established a new NCAA Division II record for career kick return yards adding 83 yards on four returns to now give him 2,711 for his career. The previous mark was 2,630.
Clarion's Alfonso Hoggard racked up 143 yards on a whopping 36 carries on the night. However, the Falcons were able to keep Hoggard out of the end zone. While FSU contained receivers Jacques Robinson and Craig Bunny, Matt Ward did the damage receiving with 12 catches for 118 yards. Eric Coxon was 28-45 for 285 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
Clarion went ahead 7-0 in the first quarter after John Fuhrer punched in a 2-yard carry capping a nine-play, 65 yard drive. Robert Mamula later kicked the first of his three field goals from 26-yards to make it 10-0 to end the first quarter.
FSU couldn't get much going until Hoggard tried to handle a bouncing punt and Perry Baker recovered at the eight yard line. Pinchinant would then take it in off the left side off a block from Cody Reed to cut the deficit to 10-7. Mamula hit a late field goal to give the Golden Eagles a 13-7 lead at the break.
Clarion out-gained FSU 236-89 in the first half and controlled the ball for nearly 19 minutes of action.
Mamula extended Clarion's lead to 16-7 early in the third quarter, and after a quick Falcon three-and-out, FSU got a monumental shift in momentum as Newman took back an interception 54 yards. Frank Keenan's extra point was blocked, though, and FSU trailed 16-13.
The score remained that way into the fourth quarter until Cody Reed capped an 83-yard drive with a bruising 33 yard run. Reed appeared to be contained, but broke through the line and took it in to give the Falcons their first lead of the night at 20-16. Scott Victorio contributed a big 31 yard run to help aid the drive.
After the two teams traded possessions, Clarion took over with 7:58 to go in the game. The Golden Eagles converted a 3rd-and-8, but later on 3rd-and-6, FSU's Davis tipped a pass into the air that was hauled in by Brian Turner. Turner returned it 14 yards to set the Falcon up at the Clarion 29-yard line. Two plays later, Pinchinat broke free down the left side and went down the sideline to five the Falcons a two-possession lead at 27-16.
The FSU defense was able to get a big three-and-out on Clarion's next possession, and FSU was able to take care of possession and keep Clarion off the board in the final minutes to come away with the 27-16 win.
Daniel Strosinder finished the game with a team-hgih 11 tackles, including eight solo. Newman had 11 stops and Raynell Hall had 10 tackles and an interception. On special teams, Ben Landis was spectacular in his return to the Falcons with eight punts averaging 43.5 yards per kick and pinning two inside the Clarion five-yard line.
FSU will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 11, at home against Notre Dame College. Kickoff from Duvall-Rosier Field is slated for 1 p.m.