- Holiday Reader
- Wet Ink
- Men’s Sports
- Women’s Sports
- Club & Intramural Sports
- Out of Bounds
- Contact Us
It was overcast in Erie when the Crimson Hawks took the football field Saturday, but for the first time in three weeks, Indiana University of Pennsylvania had a bright performance.
Thanks to a running game that finally broke loose and helped give IUP an early edge in momentum as well as a stout showing by the defense that had been missing in recent games, the Hawks snapped a two-week losing streak by topping Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West foe Mercyhurst University, 28-6.
Running back De’Antwan Williams (senior, sociology) had one of his most productive starts of the year against the Lakers Saturday, carrying the ball 30 times for a season-high 186 yards and a touchdown. His complement, Erik Finklea (senior, health and physical education), also chipped in with a score, while quarterback Mike Box (senior, psychology) made some contributions of his own on the ground, rebounding from a forgettable outing against Edinboro University to score two rushing touchdowns.
“It felt good,” Williams said. “We have everyone back and healthy, but we were also able to execute.”
Defensively, IUP got off to a hot start, limiting the Lakers to just 15 yards in the opening two drives, and never let up, keeping Mercyhurst out of the end zone for the first time since 2008. The Hawks also got back to making plays on the defensive side of the ball, with two interceptions slowing down any rhythm Mercyhurst might have been putting together throughout the contest. One of the picks came at the hands of Terrell Holloway (senior, health and physical education), who now has four takeaways on the year.
“It felt great to get back on track,” said linebacker Carl Fleming (senior, criminology), who had eight tackles for the defense.
As Fleming indicated, IUP finally appeared to return to form Saturday, and that can be said for all aspects of the team. After starting 5-0 with national championship aspirations swirling, the Crimson Hawks hit a sudden roadblock against Slippery Rock University and struggled to replicate both their explosive offense and shutdown defense for the next two weeks, likely squandering their chances of even returning to the playoffs. Regardless of their postseason goals, IUP can at least take pride in once again being victorious.
Among other standouts on the Hawks defense were defensive tackle Akeem Smith (senior, communications media), who returned from injury to lead the team with 10 tackles up front, and Dorian Lane (junior, accounting), who had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage alongside Fleming in the linebacker corps.
On IUP’s first two drives, the Hawks put themselves in an early position to take hold of the scoreboard, pounding the ball into the end zone both times. A failed fourth-and-one pass attempt by Mercyhurst to close the game’s first series gave IUP possession of the ball, and it wasn’t long afterward that Box gave his team the first points of the matchup by rushing past the goal line from 1-yard out.
A five-play series on IUP’s next possession was capped off with another touchdown run, this time by Finklea. A 67-yard drive by Mercyhurst subsequently put the Lakers into scoring position, but the team was held to a Steven Wakefield 25-yard field goal. Leading up to the field goal, Mercyhurst struggled to move the ball inside the red zone, especially with the Hawks doing their best to slow Brandon Brown- Dukes, the PSAC West’s leading rusher.
Wakefield connected on another field goal, this one from 27 yards out, in the second quarter, but Mercyhurst’s second score didn’t come until after a 25-yard touchdown run by Williams, who found a handful of big holes throughout the afternoon.
Heading into halftime, IUP held a 21-6 lead, while neither team did much to dominate the momentum battle in the final two quarters,.
In a second half that featured five punts and almost as many failed fourth-down tries, it was only IUP that again got on the board, scoring with under a minute to go on another 1-yard touchdown run by Box. The touchdown capped a series that began inside Mercyhurst territory and was aided by a 20-yard carry by Williams, who has rushed for 830 yards on the season.
Now 6-2 on the season, IUP will stay on the road in Week 9 when they travel to Clarion University.
Although the Hawks’ win against Mercyhurst Saturday puts the team back on the right track, the attitude in the locker room seems set on continued improvement and a return to the standard coach Curt Cignetti has stressed so often – taking each game as it comes, one week at a time.
“It was a long time coming,” Finklea said of Saturday’s victory. “Nonetheless, it felt good getting a win, but we have much more improvement ahead of us and things that we need to get done.”