Gators Punish Terriers, Cruise to 44-14 Victory
MEADVILLE, Pa. – On a beautiful fall afternoon, Allegheny pieced together its most dominating performance of the season on both sides of the ball en route to a 44-14 victory over Hiram at Frank B. Fuhrer Field. Led by another strong effort from senior quarterback Jordan Fowler, the Gators totaled a season-high 473 yards of total offense while limiting the Terriers to just 167 yards.
Two long plays from Fowler to senior wideout Matt Griffith triggered a 14-0 lead for Allegheny (5-4, 3-2 NCAC) just four minutes into the action. On the first play from scrimmage, Fowler connected with Griffith on a 37-yard reception. The Gators scored on the next play on a five-yard run by Brian Tamburlin.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Gators covered 75 yards on two plays en route to doubling their advantage. Freshman Derrick Emigh, who finished with 112 yards of total offense, hauled in a 13-yard reception on the first play of the drive, while Fowler and Griffith linked up on a pitch-and-catch that covered 62 yards for the team's second score in as many chances.
The offense continued to run on all cylinders through the first 15 minutes. On its third possession, the Blue and Gold covered 60 yards on 10 plays, which ended when Fowler delivered a nice pass on a fade to Sean Griffin in the corner of the end zone from six yards out. Ben Perko, who closed the day with a career-high 96 yards on the ground, fueled the drive while Fowler finished 4-for-4 through the air.
Ahead 21-0 after the first quarter, the Gators were unable to add points to the board on their fourth series as senior Ryan Zipf's field goal attempt from 38 yards sailed wide left early in the second. Zipf would later connect on three consecutive field goal tries, including one from 43 yards. His last kick, which capped the Allegheny scoring late in the fourth resulted in a team record 13th field goal of the season. The senior placekicker from Cranberry Township, Pa., is 6-of-7 on field goal attempts in the last two weeks and ranks among the national leaders in field goals made.
Although the Allegheny attack was briefly stymied, the Gators extended the lead to 28-0 on their next possession. A 25-yard pass from Fowler to tight end Max Kauert highlighted the drive while Griffith hauled in his second score of the day from four yards out. Griffith finished the day with five catches for a career-best 116 yards. He broke the 100-yard receiving mark for the second time in three weeks and has six touchdown receptions in the last four games.
Fowler created some damage with his legs midway through the third quarter. On a first down from midfield, Fowler escaped the rush and raced 40 yards to the Hiram 10-yard line. Two rushing attempts by Tamburlin was all it would take for the Gators to add their final touchdown of the day while moving in front, 35-7.
Fowler looked strong as he finished the afternoon 17-of-25 for 234 yards and three touchdowns. Griffith was his top target while Kauert had three grabs for 65 yards. Perko paced a ground attack that totaled a season-high 239 yards. Fowler added 46 yards on three carries while Tamburlin tacked on 45 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
In addition to an outstanding offensive performance, a strong defensive stand helped propel the Gators to their 10th straight win against the Terriers (1-8, 1-4). Allegheny held Hiram to 94 yards passing, the first time the team has held an opponent under 100 yards since September 26, 2009. John Douglas had five tackles, including four for loss. Colin Hartford paced the secondary with three pass break-ups, while Travis Wilkins recorded his second interception of the season early in the fourth quarter.
Another impressive effort by Allegheny's special teams completed a thorough league victory. While the coverage unit looked strong, Emigh totaled 86 yards on four punt returns, the highest total since Nick Jones topped 100 on October 22, 2005.