Clarion over Lock Haven
By BILL ALBRIGHT
WesternPAFootball.net Senior Writer
LOCK HAVEN — When Lock Haven University welcomed Clarion to Jack Stadium Thursday night, LHU first-year coach Dave Taynor was hoping that the new era of Bald Eagle football would get off to a positive start.
Unfortunately for Taynor and his squad, the good things they were hoping for didn’t happen as the Bald Eagles lost the battle of the birds to the Golden Eagles by the final of 40-13.
“We have a lot of opportunities to improve on,” said Taynor. “I am going to have to take a good look at the film, but when we operated in rhythm we did some things really well. But you can’t turn the ball over that many times and have it loose that many times to see the result on the scoreboard you wanted to see. But this is a process in that you have to improve every single day and take advantage of the opportunities that are created through adversity in order to get better. We (the coaches) are going to ask them to respond and I think they will respond so that we can grow each day.
“I told them before the game and the night before the game that when you succeed you succeed together and when you fail you fail together,” continued Taynor. “Whether you fail together or succeed together, you have to use those opportunities to get better, so any way you look at it, we have a ways to go.”
After an exchange of punts to open the game, Clarion took over on its on 24. Six plays later, quarterback Connor Simmons hit Kyle Evans for a 19-yard scoring aerial. Phil Esposito split the uprights with the PAT to give the Golden Eagles a 7-0 lead with 6:42 left in the opening period.
On its next possession, Clarion moved down field, but a good defensive play by Rahjeir Miles-Eubanks resulted in a LHU interception. Eubanks led the Bald Eagles in tackles with 11 hits plus his “pick“, while Tony Ballon finished with nine stops and a quarterback sack from his linebacker position.
After a four-and-out followed by a thee-and-out, the Bald Eagles put together a nice drive, but a completion from quarterback Caleb Walton to Dan Krupko at the Clarion 23 resulted in a lost fumble.
With the exchange of possessions, the Golden Eagles held on to their 7-0 lead at the first turn.
Clarion scored on its next two possessions to take a 17-0 lead with 4:40 left in the second period.
After four LHU possessions fell short of putting any points on the board, the Bald Eagles put together a very efficient 5-play, 73 yard march to the end zone. The drive was culminated by a neat aerial connection to Shawn Seif from Walton covering 12 yards. Alex Boumerhi tacked on the PAT to cut the Clarion to 17-7 with less than three minutes left prior to the break.
During the drive, Seif made two acrobatic catches for 19 yards while David Cook hauled one Walton aerial for 27 yards. For the game, Malyk Harris led the Bald Eagle ground attack with 91 yards on just eight touches.
“The situation was mainly that I wanted to make a play for my team,” said Seif. “They called my number and I knew I had to step up. As for the route, it was pretty much just a go route. I found the open seam and the quarterback was able to get the ball to me.”
Unfortunately for LHU, the Golden Eagles went to the airways to move into field goal position where Esposito again split the uprights from 34 yards out with no time remaining on the clock to give Clarion a 20-7 lead at the break.
For the game, Clarion racked up 519 yards of total offense, 407 through the airways and 112 overland.
“I think we played the run well,” said Taynor. “We played their pin and pull series well, but we struggled with some of their run-pass options which is something I thought we defended well in camp. We missed some assignments. There is no doubt about that. I think when I go back and watch it (the film) a lot of it might come down to eye discipline to make sure they are looking at the right things. We are all in this together. It is my job to help make each of them better every single day. We have to learn to maintain our composure because I thought we came out a little tight.”
After an exchange of possessions to begin the second half, the Golden Eagles again went to work on offense, marching 64 yards on eight plays for the score. A Simmons to Kevin Genevro aerial connection finished the drive for the score and increased the Clarion lead to 27-7.
After holding the Golden Eagles short of the sticks, the Bald Eagles put together their second scoring drive of the young season.
Marching 64 yards on eight plays, Walton and Seif connected for the second time on a scoring aerial, this one good for 20 yards. The PAT was no good, but the Eagles kept themselves in the game at Clarion 27, LHU 13, with three minutes left before the turn for home.
“My second TD was pretty much the same as the first,” Seif said. “I just found the open space, ran to the middle and daylight and I have to give a shout to my quarterback for getting the ball to me. He (Walton) is an agile and athletic quarterback and he certainly gives us a chance to open up our offense.”
For the game, Walton completed 20 of 27 attempts for 206 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
But hold the phone because Clarion again went on a march to paydirt. Simmons hit Matt Lehman for the score nine seconds into the final period and the Golden Eagles never looked back.
Now 0-1, the Bald Eagles will hit the roadways for a pair of games, the first of those two in Greensburg when they visit Seton Hill on September12. Kickoff for the crossover contest with the Griffins is 3 p.m.
The next home game for the Crimson & White is on September 26 when they host the East Stroudsburg Warriors. Kickoff for that fray is set for 12 Noon.
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