Courtesy of Gannon Athletics
EDINBORO, Pa. - Rivalry games usually turn into defensive affairs regardless of the sport since both teams are extremely familiar with each other. Saturdayâ€™s Gannon-Edinboro football game was no different. The 13th-ranked Fighting Scots held the ball for over 36 minutes and shut out the Golden Knights 13-0 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division opener for both programs.
Edinboro became the first opponent to shut out Gannon since Indianapolis performed the feat during a 35-0 victory September 15, 2007. The 13 combined points represented the fewest combined output since Pace defeated Gannon 7-0 October 19, 1996.
The Fighting Scots provided early fireworks for their Homecoming Crowd midway through the first quarter. Gannon held possession in Edinboro territory after recovering a muffed punt at the Boro 31-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Edinboro cornerback Kenny Pettis stepped in front of a pass near the Gannon sideline and raced 75 yards for a touchdown with 7:42 left in the first quarter. Randy Colling (Arcade, N.Y./Pioneer) blocked the extra point to leave the deficit at 6-0.
Gannon reached the Edinboro 45-yard line during its next possession, but was forced to punt. The Fighting Scots then marched 77 yards on 16 plays, capping the scoring drive with a Drew Herrell four-yard touchdown run. The drive pushed the home teamâ€™s lead to 13-0 while consuming seven minutes and 24 seconds.
Edinboroâ€™s two first-half touchdowns eventually proved to be the only scoring of the day as the two local rivals traded punches the rest of the way. Following the final score, Gannon drove into Edinboro territory for the third consecutive drive. The Golden Knights reached the Boro 37-yard line, before coming up two yards short on a fourth-and-six play.
Head coach Jim Kiernanâ€™s squad had a chance to turn the momentum in the third quarter, but the Edinboro defense rose to the occasion yet again. The Golden Knights assumed possession at the Fighting Scotsâ€™ 31-yard line after Kevin Minor (South Euclid, Ohio/Shaw) recovered a fumble forced by Chris Cook (Cleveland, Ohio/Shaw) with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter.
Gannon moved the ball to the 17-yard line, but lost nine yards on the next three plays. A 44-yard field goal attempt then sailed wide left to keep the Golden Knights off the board. The offensive unit only ran one play in Edinboro territory the rest of the contest.
The statistics page was extremely close. Edinboro held slight advantages in total yards (244-201) and first downs (14-13). The biggest difference was time of possession, where the Fighting Scots held the ball for nearly 13 more minutes.
Tyler Batts (Homestead, Pa./Penn-Trafford) recorded 52 of Gannonâ€™s 60 rushing yards. Two Gannon quarterbacks combined for a 15-of-30 passing chart for 141 yards and three interceptions. Zach Boedicker (Northfield, Ohio/Nordonia) did move into Gannonâ€™s all-time top four in passing yards, finishing the contest with 2,839 career yards.
Geoff Hicks (Buffalo, N.Y./Cleveland Hill), Levar Goff (Rochester, N.Y./Greece Athena) and Batts hauled in three catches each.
Defensive coordinator Brad Rzyczyckiâ€™s troops were superb Saturday afternoon, allowing a season-low 13 points. The Golden Knights have yet to allow an opponent to score points in the third quarter this season.
Cook tied a career-high with 11 tackles, forced a fumble and broke up a pass. Matthew Neal-Mink (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) and Keith Yager (Hermitage, Pa./Hickory) added eight stops each. Neal-Mink now ranks sixth all-time at Gannon with 245 career tackles.
Gannon dropped to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the PSAC Western Division with Saturdayâ€™s loss. Edinboro, ranked 13th in the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) national poll, remained undefeated at 4-0 overall and 1-0 in conference play. The Golden Knights finally return home Saturday, October 2 against Mercyhurst at Gannon University Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 noon.