Defense Takes Command as Allegheny Storms Past Oberlin, 15-3
MEADVILLE, Pa. – Allegheny pieced together a dominating stand in the fourth quarter, and the Gator ground game got on track to lead the Blue and Gold to a 15-3 victory over Oberlin in front of a packed Homecoming crowd at Frank B. Fuhrer Field. The Gators held the ball for over 10 minutes during the final frame, while the defense surrendered zero yards against the Yeomen's attack.
Allegheny's second consecutive conference win was bittersweet as the team lost two key players to injury and turned the ball over an astounding six times. The Gators, who coughed up four fumbles during the tilt, nearly lost a fifth before recovering the ball deep in their own territory.
Meanwhile, the defense, which bent a few times in allowing Oberlin to total 236 yards of offense, was outstanding in the red zone, and was near-flawless over the final 15 minutes of regulation. Senior John Douglas boasted three tackles for loss, including a sack in the end zone that virtually sealed the win, while Rudy DeStefano enjoyed a career game with 14 tackles, including 11 solo stops. Colin Hartford, who was outstanding in coverage all afternoon, picked off his second pass of the season with a leaping grab on the Yeomen's second-to-last possession of the day.
In a stretch of five possessions extending between the first and second quarters, the Gators turned the ball over four times. The Allegheny defense held tough after each exchange, although Oberlin was finally able to break the scoreless tie just before halftime. Despite yielding just four yards on the drive, Erickson Andrews drilled a 35-yard field goal to give the Yeomen a 3-0 lead with just over one minute left before the break. Andrews missed on a 31-yard attempt earlier in the second quarter.
After stalling on its opening series after the intermission, Allegheny manufactured its longest drive of the day to get on the board. Initially, the Gators had gained zero yards on their first three plays and were set to punt from their own 20-yard line. However, a poor snap was handled by Ryan Schroth, who raced down the far sideline for 26 yards and an improbable first down.
The positive result on another botched play triggered a spark for the Allegheny attack, which easily moved the ball down the field after being given new life. Derrick Emigh, who finished with four catches for 54 yards, made a spectacular 25-yard grab on the near sideline to put the Gators in striking distance, while Ben Perko carried the ball the remaining 14 yards to the end zone on two attempts as Allegheny moved in front, 7-3.
After forcing three consecutive three-and-outs to start the fourth quarter, the Allegheny offense put some distance on the scoreboard behind a 12-play, 68-yard drive that chewed up nearly six minutes of game time. Back-up fullback Tim Werley, who delivered a career effort with 56 yards rushing and 72 all-purpose yards, ignited the drive with a 28-yard run up the middle. After moving deep into the red zone following a tremendous catch by Andrew Niklaus and a seven-yard run by Perko, Werley pounded the ball directly at the defense with five straight carries. The last attempt from two yards resulted in another rushing touchdown for the Gators, although a blocked extra point left Allegheny ahead, 13-3, with just over four minutes left in the game.
Oberlin orchestrated a 10-play, 72-drive on its first series of the second half, although a fantastic diving break-up by rookie Ronnie Bourne in the end zone forced the Yeomen to settle for a field goal. A poor snap on the ensuing attempt caused the 21-yard kick to miss badly to the left , as Allegheny would respond with its first scoring drive of the afternoon.
Although special teams was highlighted as a major concern for the Gators entering the 2012 campaign, senior Ryan Schroth has been outstanding in his first year as the team's punter. On Saturday, Schroth punted seven times for an average of 43 yards while landing three kicks inside the 20.