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|Mistakes, Missed Opportunities Cost LHU in Loss|
|Sunday, 28 October 2012 21:53|
CentralPASportscenter.com Senior Writer
LOCK HAVEN – When you are faced with opportunities in the game of football, you had best seize them and make the most of them because once they are gone, they don’t come back.
Unable to take advantage of many opportunities on offense was pretty much the story Saturday night at Hubert Jack Stadium as Lock Haven University dropped a frustrating 13-7 verdict to Gannon University in a PSAC-West battle.
“We had plenty of opportunities in that game to put them away,” said a frustrated LHU head coach John Allen. “Defensively after that first drive, they (the LHU defense) settled in, figured out the zone read and they played well. Offensively, we had some inconsistencies on pass protection and at times we didn’t handle the run very well either. But we did come back and make some adjustments and moved the ball down the field. We had the big run coming out of the half and when we have those opportunities, we have to finish them. If we do that, this is a team that could be lights out.”
The Golden Knights came out smoking as they took the opening kickoff on their own 19. Seven plays later, Alex Papson bulled up the gut for a 3-yard touchdown. Matt Szczupakowski’s PAT made it 7-0 Gannon three minutes into the game.
The Gannon lead was short-lived, however, as on Gannon’s next possession, George Christas stepped in front of a Liam Nadler pass and took the “pick 6” forty-one yards to the house. Noah Heimer was perfect from placement and just like that, the two teams were deadlocked at 7-all.
“That interception for a touchdown was just outstanding,” said Allen. “You can’t fault those guys at all because when they (Gannon) got into the red zone, they created turnovers or made them kick field goals. We had plenty of opportunities like the fumble on the goal line. Things like that are just critical.”
As for the play of Christas and the rest of the LHU defense, Allen felt they played as hard as they could.
“He (Christas) has done a great job for us back there in the secondary,” said Allen. “We have great confidence in him, he makes the calls and checks and he gets us in the right situations and he does a great job of getting to the football and that is what is important. I think a lot of those guys on the defensive side of the ball are really playing well against some real good opponents that have real good offenses.”
Following an exchange of punts, the Knights returned the favor by picking off a Jarrett Kratzer pass. Five plays later, Szczupakowski split the uprights from 24 yards out to give the Golden Knights a 10-7 lead.
With the two teams taking turns exchanging blows in the trenches, LHU had the best scoring threat in the final 17 minutes of the first half, but a 41-yard field goal attempt by Heimer was wide to the left and the Knights hung onto their 10-7 lead at the break.
And then it happened!!! Well, almost.
On the first play following the second half kickoff, Brandon Brader broke through the line and raced 72 yards to the Gannon 1-yard line. However, as fate would have it for the Bald Eagles, the ball was fumbled on the next play and Gannon recovered to turn the Bald Eagles away from the well with an empty bucket.
“We just can’t make mistakes like that and expect to win,” Allen said. “If we are going to win a football game, we can’t make those kinds of mistakes.”
Following the near-miss by LHU, the defensive units of both teams went to work, slugging it out for field position. With time running down in the third quarter.
Gannon was the recipient of good field position at the LHU 43. Seven plays later, Szczupakowski’s field goal from 37 yards out was good, pushing the Gannon lead to 13-7 with 1:34 left before the turn for home.
Still trailing by a half dozen to begin the fourth period, the Bald Eagles put themselves in a position to score a touchdown. Two passes missed their mark and on fourth down, Heimer’s field goal attempt hit the right upright and bounced harmlessly back onto the field with twelve minutes left in the game.
“I am not sure what happened on that field goal,” said Allen. “There was concern going into this game about our emotions because of how emotional the game was last week. I wasn’t sure how our team would react, but they came in with great emotion and great intensity. It was just unfortunate. The first field goal was just a bad snap and a poor hold, and as for the second field goal, he just pushed it right to the goal post. Unfortunately, it was one of those things that happens. We had a couple of opportunities to catch balls and we didn’t. That is one area we have to continue to get better at.”
With two games remaining for the Bald Eagles to shake the monkey off their backs and get that elusive first win, Allen said it will be business as usual when Monday rolls around.
“The fumbles and the big time dropped pass when we’re open. That might have been a touchdown,” said Allen. “Those are the plays we have to make to win these games, and not just to win them, but to win them running away. We’ll come back in 48 hours and go back to work, keep learning and keep teaching, keep going and see what happens next week.”
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