From IUP Sports Information
Four different Crimson Hawks scored touchdowns in 10th-ranked IUP's 30-20 defeat of Southern Connecticut State in the 2013 season opener on Saturday afternoon at Jess Dow Field.
Three newcomers, Erik Finklea, Drew Carswell and Israel Green, as well as junior Sean McVay recorded the scores for the Crimson Hawks.
The game was preceded by big news from the NCAA as the Crimson Hawks received word that running back De'Antwan Williams would be permitted an extra year of eligibility. IUP had been waiting to see if the NCAA would grant Williams an extra year and his status was unclear headed into the game.
Williams got the start for IUP and made his presence known early on as he carried four of the Crimson Hawks' first five plays. The drive led to a 45-yard touchdown run by Miami (OH) transfer Finklea. The extra point by Brett Ullman gave IUP the early 7-0 lead.
The Crimson Hawks appeared to be in control as Jerell McFadden intercepted Southern Connecticut quarterback Jacob Jablonski on the Owls' next possession. IUP was unable to capitalize on the interception and turned the ball over on downs but held the Owls' off the scoreboard in the first quarter.
Southern Connecticut stormed down the field to open the second quarter, going 65 yards on 11 plays to tie the game at seven, capped off by a one-yard run from John Moscatel, to tie the game.
The Crimson Hawks were next to strike. Two deep passes from Mike Box to Terrill Barnes and a nine-yard reception from McVay put IUP on top 14-7.
The Owls, however, were quick to answer. Jablonski completed a 25-yard pass to Carlton Staggers and a 30-yard bomb to Gary Williams to move down the field quickly. Moscatel ran in it from nine yards out tie the game once again.
The two teams exchanged possessions in the third quarter until Marco Pecora intercepted the ball on the IUP 42-yard line. A 24-yard pass to Barnes would move the Crimson Hawks down the field as Box connected with Carswell for the score. Ullman missed the extra point and IUP took a 20-14 lead.
On their next possession, IUP went 61 yards on six plays and Ullman connected on a 48-yard field goal to take the 23-14 advantage.
Southern Connecticut answered with an 8-play, 75-yard drive ending in a Vito Fornarelli 22-yard touchdown run to cut the IUP lead to 23-20.
Deep passes would again be the theme of the Crimson Hawks' next drive as Barnes made a 21-yard reception, followed by a beautiful 32-yard catch by Carswell. True freshman Green ran the ball in from the 2-yard line for his first career touchdown to put the Crimson Hawks up 29-20. Ullman added the extra point and IUP took the 10-point lead.
Pecora intercepted his second pass of the day to seal the Owls' fate, picking off Jablonski in the endzone. Williams exploded for a 66-yard rush on the Crimson Hawks' first play and Box took a knee to end the game.
IUP's defense shined, led by preseason All-American Carl Fleming who posted a career-high 15 tackles. Alexander Berdahl, who led the Crimson Hawks in tackles last season, recorded 13.
The run game was effective as IUP managed 204 yards on 36 attempts. Williams surpassed the 100-yard mark, with 135 yards on 18 attempts. Four running backs saw playing time as Finklea, Green and Jay Watkins all had carries. Finklea finished the game with 50 yards on seven carries and a touchdown. Green had 14 yards on three carries and a touchdown.
The Crimson Hawks were stellar in the air, with Barnes finishing the day with 162 yards on eight catches. Pat Brewer and Carswell both finished with 51 yards and McVay went 22 yards on two receptions and added a touchdown.
The win is IUP's eighth straight over the Owls, has they hold a perfect 8-0 record in the series. It's also the eighth consecutive opening-day win for the program, dating back to 2006.
The Crimson hawks will host Cheyney in their home opener Saturday, Sept. 14. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. from George P. Miller Stadium.