PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Allegheny's defense forced four turnovers, including one for a score, and quarterback Jordan Fowler enjoyed what was easily the best start of his college career as the Gators stormed into Gesling Stadium on Saturday and knocked around Carnegie Mellon en route to a 33-13 victory. The win against a solid CMU squad re-established the Gators' preseason expectations after being staggered in last week's season-opening loss against Bethany.
Allegheny looked better in every facet of the game than it did one week ago, although individually Fowler was especially impressive. Playing behind an offensive line that also delivered an outstanding effort, Fowler looked poised and was crisp with his passes most of the afternoon. He finished 15-of-22 for 189 yards and two touchdowns and completed passes to six different receivers. Sean Griffin was Fowler's top target. The senior wideout caught six passes for a game and career high 133 yards. Two of his catches went for touchdowns, including a 49-yard catch and run and a 10-yard fade to the short corner.
The success of the passing game was set up by the ability of the Gators' offensive line in controlling the line of scrimmage. Allegheny's front surrendered zero sacks and provided plenty of protection for an efficient running attack. Senior tailback Taylor O'Brien authored a workhorse performance through the first three quarters and finished with 88 yards on 26 carries. Sophomore Ben Perko added 83 yards on 15 carries, while the entire ground attack averaged over four yards per rush.
Defensively, the Gators were opportunistic as well as solid. Junior Bill Devlin, who paced the unit with 12 tackles, including a sack and two for loss, snatched a bouncing ball out of the air after Lucas Schwanke laid a terrific hit on Patrick Blanks as the Tartan receiver tried to bring in the catch. Seven plays later, Fowler connected for six with Griffin, who was in single coverage, with a beautiful pass to his outside shoulder. The score pushed Allegheny ahead, 17-6, with less than four minutes left in the third quarter.
Doug Williams, Mike Brown, and Joe Zimmer were credited with fumble recoveries. After the Tartans fumbled a poorly executed reverse five yards behind the line of scrimmage, Williams picked up the loose ball and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown. Senior Ryan Zipf had extended the Gators lead to 20-6 with his second field goal of the day on the previous series, while Williams' scoop and score pushed Allegheny in front, 26-6, early in the fourth quarter.
The Gators' benefitted from a short field in scoring their final touchdown of the day. The Tartans turned over the ball on downs following three straight incompletions, while Perko covered 17 yards on three attempts to set up Fowler's second end zone strike to Griffin.
Fowler was outstanding at the start, going 5-for-6 for 43 yards on a 17-play opening drive. He orchestrated a magnificent drive that included six first downs and chewed up over seven minutes of game time. Taylor, who added nine carries on the drive, capped the possession with a one-yard touchdown.
GAME NOTES: Andrew DeJong kicked an unbelievable punt in the first quarter that travelled a program-record 75 yards and was downed by Blake Lyle inside the CMU 1-yard line…Allegheny recovered an on-side kick in the third quarter…the Gators finished with zero turnovers for the first time since Oct. 9, 2010 (vs. Kenyon)…Allegheny is 8-1 in games without a turnover since 2007…head coach Mark Matlak improved to 4-1 all-time against Carnegie Mellon…the win also signaled the ninth victory for Allegheny in its last 10 games against the Tartans and its third in a row.