Courtesy of East Stroudsburg Athletics
EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. â€“ IUP ran for 209 yards on 45 carries and held No. 25 East Stroudsburg University in check after a pair of scoring drives in the first quarter as the Crimson Hawks pulled out a 23-17 win on Saturday night at Eiler-Martin Stadium.
ESU pulled within one score on a five-yard touchdown pass from redshirt senior quarterback Matt Marshall to redshirt senior wide receiver Jeff Giglio with 32 seconds left, but couldnâ€™t recover the onside kick as IUP ran out the clock to improve to 2-0 in a meeting of teams that had convincing wins in their season openers last week. ESU opened its season with a 57-0 win at Pace, while IUP knocked off Northeast-10 preseason favorite Southern Connecticut State, 16-6.
The loss is just the second in six night games for the Warriors (1-1) at Eiler-Martin Stadium, who also fell to IUP, 38-23, in the inaugural night game in 2007. The game also marked ESUâ€™s first game with a national ranking since the 2006 season opener. The Warriors fall to 21-11 when playing with a national ranking, and 10-7 at home.
Harvie Tuck ran 20 times for 89 yards and a TD for a ground attack that helped the Crimson Hawks gain a 12-minute advantage in time of possession. Freshman Teddy Blakeman had six carries for 46 yards and James Johnson carted the ball 10 times for 32 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Pat Smith was off to a strong start, going 14-for-18 for 196 yards into the third quarter, before suffering an injury and did not return. Bo Napoleon was 3-for-6 for 19 yards in relief and threw a seven-yard TD pass to Nate Morrow with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter to give IUP a 23-10 lead. Senior wide receiver Mychal Skinner had seven catches for 128 yards â€“ six for 114 yards in the first half.
The Warriors got off to a quick start, scoring on their first two possessions to take a 10-0 lead. Freshman Taylor Groff finished the gameâ€™s first drive with a 33-yard field goal and Marshall threw a 29-yard TD pass to sophomore tailback Kendrick Williams to complete an 11-play, 84-yard drive. The march included just two third downs, as the Warriors converted a third-and-two with a six-yard scramble by Marshall and a third-and-six on the scoring pass to Williams.
IUP scored 13 points in the second quarter to turn a 10-point deficit into a three-point halftime lead, holding the ball for more than 10 minutes and limiting the Warriors to one first down and 14 yards. Tuck scored on a one-yard run at the end of a 13 play, 72-yard drive and Craig Burgess made the first of his three field goals from 31 yards out to tie the game at 10-10 with 7:57 left.
The Crimson Hawks drove 96 yards on 11 plays to take their halftime lead on a 19-yard field goal by Burgess with one second left in the half. Smith connected with Skinner for a 48-yard gain to move the ball into ESU territory before the Warriorsâ€™ defense tightened in the red zone and forced the field goal attempt.
A 21-yard field goal by Burgess with 1:33 left in the third quarter was the only scoring in the period after senior linebacker Kevin Schafer blocked Burgessâ€™ 29-yard attempt on the Crimson Hawksâ€™ previous possession. Consecutive runs of 42 yards by Tuck and 28 yards by Blakeman set up Burgessâ€™ third field goal of the game that made the score 16-10 with just over a quarter remaining.
An interception by safety Mike Scott on the first play of the fourth quarter set up IUPâ€™s final scoring drive, as his 31-yard return set up a five-minute possession that concluded with Napoleonâ€™s seven-yard toss to Morrow that put the Crimson Hawks ahead 23-10.
ESU moved to the IUP 20 on its ensuing possession before turning the ball on downs. The Warriorsâ€™ defense held for a three-and-out, and Marshall marched the Warriors 55 yards on eight plays to pull within one score on his TD pass to Giglio with 32 seconds on the clock.
The Warriors had a shot at the onside kick but it went just past the outstretched arms of junior safety Herschel Thornton, who was shaken up on the play, and Napoleon went to a knee to end the game.
Marshall was 16-for-25 for 147 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and also ran for 46 yards on 12 carries. He hit eight different receivers for the second straight week, with redshirt senior wide receiver Ed Kiser as his top target with four catches for 41 yards.
Williams ran 12 times for 85 yards and had two catches for 31 yards, including his 29-yard touchdown. The Warriors gained 145 yards on 33 carries but lost for the second straight time when running for at least 140 yards after winning their previous 14.
Thornton had 11 tackles and All-America redshirt senior outside linebacker Matt Freed made 10 tackles, his 17th career game in double figures in 25 starts.
Linebacker Mike Katch (11 tackles) and Jeff Vaughn (10 tackles) led the IUP defense and Carl Thornton and Errol Brewster both had sacks. ESU didnâ€™t allow a sack in its season opener.
The Warriors will continue their most demanding stretch of the season next week at No. 4 California (Pa.) before opening their PSAC East schedule against preseason favorite West Chester and Bloomsburg, picked second in the division.
ESU recognized military and emergency service personnel during the pregame ceremonies on the ninth anniversary of September 11. A 30-by-50 foot American flag was donated by Pocono Raceway and presented on the field with the assistance of Stroud Area Regional Police, members of the Stroud Township, Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg fire companies, members of ESUâ€™s Army ROTC, future soldiers from the Stroudsburg Army Recruiting Station, family members of soldiers deployed from â€œOperation: Touch of Homeâ€ and veterans from across Monroe County.