September 17, 2011

Defense Fuels Victory as Allegheny Knocks Off DePauw, 17-10

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MEADVILLE, Pa. – Defensive back Colin Hartford had two interceptions, including one pick for six, to lead an outstanding defensive effort as Allegheny rallied past DePauw, 17-10, at Frank B. Fuhrer Field on Saturday. The Gators allowed just 62 yards of total offense after halftime, and with three interceptions and several key tackles for loss highlighting the stout performance, Allegheny was able to secure an impressive win in the inaugural meeting against its newest conference rival.

The game began ominously for the Blue and Gold as DePauw (1-1) quickly raced out to a 10-0 lead. On the Tigers' second possession, a little bit of luck led to the opening score as Brody Schoen pulled in a tipped pass before sprinting to the end zone in what resulted in a 59-yard touchdown reception. After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Tigers went 29 yards on six plays before settling for a 32-yard field goal by Eric Malm in stretching the lead to double figures.

DePauw's defense continued to stifle the Gators (2-1) well into the second quarter, although Allegheny turned to its own defensive unit to get back into the game. On second-and-eight from their own 28, Tigers QB Ethan Schweir forced a pass along the near sideline that was picked off by Hartford. The junior standout returned the pick 34 yards to slice into the deficit, while giving the Allegheny defense a touchdown for the second consecutive game. The Gators had a chance to level the score just before the break, but a 30-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.

After the intermission, the Allegheny offense began to find its rhythm while the "Black Flag" defense pieced together an incredible stand.  The Gators turned to a trick play in manufacturing some offense as Fowler flicked a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Matt Griffith, who tossed a 32-yard strike to Sean Griffin. Two plays later, Griffith was on the receiving end of a pass by quarterback Jordan Fowler that put Allegheny in striking distance. Although DePauw thwarted the drive, Ryan Zipf delivered the equalizer with a 35-yard field goal that had plenty of room to spare. The kick was Zipf's 31st career field goal and established a new program record.

Allegheny's defense surrendered seven yards through the entire third quarter, while Fowler closed out the frame by leading the Gators on their best drive of the day. Covering 10 plays and 64 yards, a combination of good execution and untimely penalties by the Tigers' defense set Allegheny up for the go-ahead score. The Gators finally cashed in during the opening minute of the fourth as Griffith made a super adjustment on a fade to the far corner from eight yards out. DePauw only got close once in the final stanza, getting to the Allegheny 14-yard line with nine minutes to play, although a second-down sack by Pat Jameson negated the threat and DePauw would eventually turn the ball over on downs.

Bill Devlin and Doug Williams led the Gators with eight tackles a piece, while Ryan Vietmeier added seven stops. Allegheny combined to post six tackles for a loss of 34 yards and the three interceptions boosted the turnover total to seven in the last two weeks. Hartford added three solo tackles and a pass break-up to his two interception-day, while Travis Wilkins was credited with a career-high three pass break-ups.

Brian Tamburlin, who finished third in the NCAC in rushing last season, made his 2011 debut. He rushed for 39 yards on 17 carries to pace the ground attack, while Fowler led the aerial assault with 110 yards on 11-of-18 passing. Griffith and Eric Mastrogiacomo each had four catches, with Griffith totaling 60 yards including the game-winning touchdown.

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