Allegheny Tops Oberlin to Stop Long Losing Skid

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MEADVILLE, Pa. - The Allegheny football team roared out to a 20-0 lead in the first 12 minutes of play, and then used a strong running game and opportunistic defense to defeat Oberlin 26-21 on Homecoming at Frank B. Fuhrer Field.
Offensively, Allegheny (1-4, 1-3 NCAC) amassed 328 yards of total offense, including an even 200 yards on the ground, while the Gator defense limited Oberlin (0-5, 0-4 NCAC) to just 227 yards while forcing four Yeomen turnovers.

Tyler Balla was a workhorse in the Gator option attack, gaining 90 yards on 22 carries, while tailback Brandon Sellers 69 yards on 16 carries and quarterback Logan Lee52 yards on on 17 tries.

Lee also threw for 128 yards on seven completions, including a 29-yard touchdown to Ben Bachik midway through the first quarter.

Receiving the opening kickoff, the Gators quickly moved into Oberlin territory, gaining 41 yards on their first six plays to set up first down at the Oberlin 20.  The drive would quickly come to a halt with an interception at the 16-yardline, but thanks to a botched snap, the Gator defense forced an Oberlin punt from the shadows of the Yeomen's goalpost.

Taking over at the Oberlin 42 following a punt, the Gators went to the ground game to inch into scoring position.  After Sellers netted 17 yards on four tries, the drive appeared to be halted on a false start penalty at the Oberlin 24.  On fourth-and-10, however, the Gators went for it, and the gamble paid off, as Lee connected with Bachik for the first score of the day, with Ben Ziokowski's extra point putting Allegheny up 7-0 midway through the quarter. 

On the third play of Oberlin's ensuing possession, Travis Thomas got a hand on quarterback Zach Taylor's pass, and snatched it out of the air.  The junior safety then meandered through traffic and down the sideline, breaking a pair of tackles deep in Oberlin territory, for a 51-yard touchdown return to give the Gators a 13-0 lead with 5:40 left in the quarter.

Thomas would thwart Oberlin's next drive, as well, as his sack on the 21-yardline forced a three-and-out.  Taking over just past midfield after the punt, the Gators needed just four plays to take a three-touchdown lead.  Runs by Sellers and Balla netted 15 yards, before Lee broke through on the quarterback keeper and raced 46 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the season.  Ziolkowski hit the extra point, and the Gators enjoyed a 20-0 lead with 2:38 left in the quarter.

The teams would trade punts to open up the second quarter, before the Yeomen got on the board with a quick two-play, 25-yard drive that was capped off with a 23-yard touchdown run from Khalil Rivers that trimmed the Allegheny lead to 20-7.

The Yeomen and Gators would then take turns turning the ball over, After the Gators forced a pair of Yeomen fumbles - one on a strip by Tristan Rhoades, and forced by David Perez and recovered by Wyatt Boyler after a 25-yard Oberlin run - a mishandled Gator snap was recovered by the Yeomen on the Gator four-yard line.  On the next play, Taylor kept it on the option and scampered into the end zone to trim the Gator lead to 20-14 with 7:15 left in the quarter.

Each team would then punt twice over the closing stages of the half, and the Gators went into the locker room holding on to the six-point lead.

The Gators looked primed to start the second half in the same fashion as the first, as the opening kickoff of the third quarter took a wild bounce off of the Yeoman return man, and ended up in the lap of the Gators' Corey Laskey to give Allegheny the ball.  A 35-yard run from Lee and a 25-yarder from Balla brought the Gators into the red zone, but the drive would stall out.  The Gators came away empty, as their field goal attempt on fourth down was blocked.

Allegheny's defense again buckled down, with Colten Buzard's sack forcing another Oberlin three-and-out.  Taking over at midfield following the Yeomen punt, the Gator offense moved methodically down the field, and was aided by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty to set up first down on the Oberlin.  An 11-yard pass from Lee to Bachik set up first-and-goal, but the drive would stall, again bringing out the Gator field goal unit.  This time, Ziolkowski's attempt from 22 yards was good, pushing the Gator lead to 23-14 with 6:04 left in the third quarter.

Oberlin would embark on a long 11-play drive, eventually advancing into the red zone.  A holding penalty backed the ball up to the Allegheny 27, stalling the Yeomen drive, before a 39-yard field goal attempt went wide left with 2:11 remaining to keep the Gator lead at nine.

A 26-yard completion from Lee to Bachik closed out the third quarter, before a 33-yard pass to McFarland over the middle gave the Gators first down on the Oberlin 15.  After a sack and incompletion halted the drive, Ziolkowski came on to hit his second field goal of the half, this one from 22 yards out, and give the Gators a 26-14 lead with 13:05 left in regulation.

The Yeomen came back to cut the gap following an 11-play, 74-yard drive that was capped off by a six-yard touchdown pass from Taylor to Robby Reinheimer that made the score 26-21 with 9:35 left.  The drive was kept alive after an off-sides penalty negated a 10-yard Allegheny sack four plays prior to the Reinheimer score.

The Gators then took the air out of the ball to chew up valuable clock, but advanced only to midfield before a fumble on fourth down gave the ball back to the Yeomen with just over five minutes to play.  A trio of Taylor passes advanced it to the Alegheny 41, before a six-yard rush from Chuck Williams gave the Yeomen first down at the Gator 32.   A pair of runs the netted just one yard, setting up fourth and seven at the 31.  The Gator defense then came up with yet another big play, as Marcus Davenport and Jon Scroxton teamed up to sack Taylor for a 13-yard loss, giving Allegheny the ball back with four minutes left in regulation.

An eight-yard run from Balla, followed by a nine-yard completion to McFarland, gave the Gators first down at the Oberlin 44 with just under two minutes left.  Three more rushes from Balla gave Allegheny its last, and most important, first down of the game with 1:33 left, and the Gators would then take the victory formation to close out the win. 

Rhoades led the Allegheny defense with nine tackles, including 1.5 behind the line of scrimmage, while Davenport, Freddy Ruiz, and Craye Nehler each made seven stops.  

Bachik was Lee's favorite receiver on the afternoon, tallying four catches for 75 yards and the first quarter touchdown, while McFarland finished with three grabs for 53 yards.

Taylor completed 17 of 28 passes for 134 yards for Oberlin, while Rivers led the Yeomen ground game with 93 yards on 16 tries.  Luis Solorzano, Bennett Jackson, and Justin Bute each made nine tackles to pace the Yeomen defense, with Solorzano recording a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.

The Gators will now have two weeks to savor the victory, as they will enter their bye week.  The squad returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 15, hosting NCAC rival DePauw at Frank B. Fuhrer Field at 1 p.m

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