Nov. 14, 2009

EAST STROUDSBURG - Senior quarterback Trevor Harris was 28-for-39 for 298 yards and three touchdowns and cornerback Branden Williams had a blocked field goal and 61-yard return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half as Edinboro defeated East Stroudsburg, 31-16, in the first round of the NCAA Division II Football Championship on Saturday afternoon at Eiler-Martin Stadium.

Edinboro (9-3) advances to the second round of Super Regional One and will play No. 1 seed West Liberty on Saturday. The Fighting Scots handed the Hilltoppers their only loss of the season, 42-30, at Edinboro in their season opener August 29.

Redshirt junior quarterback Matt Marshall was 15-for-26 for 301 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 59 yards for ESU (8-4), which had 452 yards of total offense but turned the ball over twice, missed one field goal and had another blocked.

The Warriors were making their fourth appearance in the NCAA Playoffs in school history following trips in 1991, 2004 and 2005 and are 4-4 all-time in postseason action.

Williams scored following a 46-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half to give Edinboro a 17-13 halftime lead, and also had an interception in the first quarter. Harris threw a nine-yard TD pass to Shawn Walker on the Fighting Scots' first possession of the second half after a 63-yard kick return by Marcus Johnson.

Harris was 4-for-5 on the drive and broke former ESU quarterback Jimmy Terwilliger's PSAC record of 906 career completions. Harris finished the game with 916 completions in his 44th career game as a starter.

ESU pulled within 24-16 on a 27-yard field goal by redshirt junior Drew Reinhard with 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Harris went back down the field in four plays, capped by a 46-yard TD pass to Gary Nolen.

Nolen led Edinboro with 110 yards on three catches, tailback Michael Battles had seven catches for 45 yards and nine carries for 59 yards and Walker and Nick Marino pulled in scoring passes. Linebacker Greg Sondag had 11 tackles and a forced fumble at the five-yard line to stop an ESU drive in the first quarter.

Redshirt junior Ed Kiser caught five passes for 121 yards for ESU and redshirt senior Sam Shuman had a 77-yard touchdown catch for the game's first score. Freshman Bryan Ogden also caught a TD pass for the Warriors. All-American linebacker Matt Freed had 11 tackles (3.0 TFL) and two sacks, and finishes his junior season with 132 tackles (18.0 TFL) and 10 sacks.

Marshall had the sixth 300-yard passing performance in ESU's eighth NCAA Playoff game in school history and gained 360 yards of total offense. His 80-yard pass to Kiser in the first quarter is the longest in the Warriors' playoff history, and the 77-yard pass to Shuman tied the mark for the longest scoring play. Kiser had 184 all-purpose yards, fourth in ESU's postseason record book, and was the eighth Warrior to record a 100-yard receiving game.

Marshall finishes the season ranked sixth in school history in passing yards (2,938), total offense (3,251), TD passes (26) and quarterback rating (150.3) in a single season. Each number has been eclipsed only by four years from Terwilliger (2003-06) and Damian Poalucci's record-setting 1996 campaign.

Edinboro opened the scoring on a 32-yard field goal by Alex Romanias 4:52 into the contest, forcing a three-and-out and capitalizing on a 44-yard pass from Harris to Nolen to set up the first three points.

ESU took a 7-3 lead just three plays later, as Marshall hit Shuman streaking down the sideline for a 77-yard score to give the Warriors' redshirt senior 2,043 career yards, becoming the eighth player in school history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark.

Marshall went deep again on his next pass attempt after Edinboro punter Ryan Genco backed ESU up to its one-yard line. A play-action pass to Kiser cover 80 yards before Williams tracked him down at the 19, but the Warriors were unable to convert after a pair of runs by redshirt freshman tailback Kendrick Williams brought up first-and-goal to the eight. Marshall was hit by Sondag on a quarterback draw from the five-yard line and Kenny Pettis recovered to turn ESU away.

The Warriors went ahead 13-3 following a 14 play, 63-yard drive that erased 7:17 off the clock, their longest march of the year. Marshall ran six times for 29 yards and was 3-for-3 passing, finishing with a three-yard pass and spectacular one-handed grab by Ogden for the score on third-and-goal. Williams blocked Reinhard's extra point attempt to maintain the 10-point margin.

Reinhard missed a 37-yard attempt on ESU's next possession and Harris went 7-for-9 on Edinboro's ensuing drive. The Fighting Scots went 80 yards on 10 plays and Harris threw passes of 20 yards to Nolen and 17 yards to D'Mar Jeter before hitting Marino for a one-yard TD that made the score 13-10 with 41 seconds left in the first half.

Marshall took ESU from its 28-yard line to the Edinboro 29 in four plays, with completions of 18 yards to Kiser and 14 yards to Ogden and an 11-yard run, to set up a 46-yard field goal with four seconds left. Williams came off the edge to block the kick, scooped it up at the Edinboro 39-yard line and went the distance for a 17-13 halftime lead.

Both teams had just two possessions in the third quarter. Harris opened the period with his nine-yard TD pass to Walker after Johnson's long return of the opening kickoff. Kiser brought the ensuing kick back 43 yards to the Edinboro 49, but the Warriors were stalled and the Fighting Scots took 6:04 off the clock on a 12-play drive before punting it back to ESU.

The Warriors went to the ground game on their next possession to pull within 24-16. ESU ran it on eight of their first 10 plays, with freshman tailback Eric Deery running three times for 27 yards to open the drive and Williams and redshirt junior fullback Brent Jones picking up first downs.

Marshall was knocked out of the game for the rest of the series on the next-to-last play of the third quarter, but redshirt sophomore quarterback Ray Wagner entered to convert a fourth down with a three-yard pass to redshirt freshman Jordan Hallman. A pass interference flag on a throw to Shuman gave ESU the ball at the 11-yard line and Reinhard finished the 15 play, 77-yard march with a 27-yard field goal with 14:08 left.

Harris delivered the final big blow for the Fighting Scots two minutes later. He ran for 21 yards on the first play from the 30, then had a seven-yard rush before being sacked by freshman defensive end Kevon Brown. Harris threw over the top on third down to Nolen, who outran the secondary for a 46-yard TD to make the score 31-16 with 12:01 on the clock.

ESU took over at the seven-yard line with 6:13 left after an exchange of punts and drove into Edinboro territory, but Marshall's final throw of the day, a 15-yard completion to Hallman, came up one yard short of a first town to turn the ball over at the 42 with 3:24 remaining. Battle gained 51 of his 59 yards with a run up the middle to the four-yard line and Edinboro ran out the clock to finish the game.

The Warriors will bring back 15 starters, eight on offense and seven on defense, led by Marshall and Freed. Saturday's game marked the final career appearances for starters Sam Shuman, offensive linemen Morgan Thomas (42 starts) and Dan Finnegan, defensive tackle Keith Galinsky, defensive end Jeff Case (45 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks) and free safety Nicholas Artinger (PSAC-best seven interceptions).

Freed and the rest of the Warriors' top five linebackers - rising seniors Mark Kalo and Kevin Schafer and rising juniors Taylor Cave and Mike Bergey - return on defense, along with starting cornerbacks David Castillo (28 straight starts) and Shawnte Carroll.

Kiser (43 catches, 805 yards, 6 TD) and Jeff Giglio (38 catches, 603 yards, 3 TD) enter their senior years to lead a group of four receivers who have all seen significant action. Freshmen Williams (436 rushing yards, 245 receiving yards) and Deery (277 rushing yards) return at tailback and four of ESU's five offensive linemen are also back.