Nov. 13, 2010

Courtesy of Mercyhurst College

ERIE, Pa. -- Let's hear it for your Lakers! No. 16 Mercyhurst College downed visiting No. 11 Bloomsburg University in front of a capacity crowd of 2,298 fans at Tullio Field to claim its first-ever Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championship!

Junior wide receiver Trevor Kennedy was named the championship's Most Valuable Player after recording 250 all-purpose yards that included three touchdowns, two receiving and one a 78-yard punt return to paydirt.

The Lakers (9-2) and the Huskies (9-2) will both await word now on the NCAA Division II playoffs which start next week. The pairings for each of the four regions will be announced on Sunday on ESPN News between 3 and 3:30 p.m. BU ranks second in this week's regional rankings while Mercyhurst is No. 4. Shepherd, the region's top-ranked team fell to Glenville State, 28-24, and third-ranked Kutztown defeated Gannon, 27-24.

With Mercyhurst's seemingly immovable defense against the run and the nation's leading rusher in Bloomsburg's Franklyn Quiteh, many wondered which of the two would prevail. In a twist of irony, it was the quarterbacks and wide receivers that took center stage as the league's finest combined for 93 points, 965 yards of total offense and 11 touchdowns.

The Lakers Travis Rearick threw for 345 yards and tied a career-high with four touchdowns to four different receivers on 20-of-30 completions while his counterpart Pat Carey posted 311 yards passing and three touchdowns to two different receivers on 22-of-37 completions.

Kennedy led all receivers with his totals while teammate Terrence Coon also established a new career-high with 120 receiving yards from three receptions, including a 61-yard haul to open the scoring. One of 13 celebrating Senior Day for the Lakers, Matt Mohr saved his best for last as he established personal-bests with four catches for 95 yards and brought in his first career touchdown catch.

For Bloomsburg, Carey distributed his completions among eight different receivers, but his favorite was Kyle Fisher, who finished with team-highs of six receptions for 151 yards and two scores.

Quiteh, who entered the game as Division II's leading rusher at 163.8 yards per game, was held to 16 carries for 104 yards, including a 32-yard scamper in the first quarter before exiting with a knee injury in the second half.

In an aerial attack, the Lakers rushed out to a 7-0 lead on Coon's grab then reclaimed the lead with 4:57 to go in the opening stanza on Mohr's 28-yard catch after Bloomsburg's Dan Fisher put the Huskies on the board with a 26-yard field goal. A key play in the drive where Mohr scored was a pass interference call on the Huskies on a 3rd-and-13 play that kept the series alive for Mercyhurst.

After the Lakers fumbled a punt return in their next possession, the Huskies Quiteh broke for his 32-yard burst to cut the Lakers lead to 14-10 heading into the second quarter.

In that second quarter, Mercyhurst was resilient in its aerial attack, posting 21 points to break the game open and head into the locker room with a 35-17 advantage.

Ryan Bartizal scored on a four-yard pass from Rearick with 13:47 left in the opening half to cap a six-play, 81-yard drive. Then, Kennedy dazzled the crowd with a never-give-up attitude on a punt return that looked as though he would be caught deep inside the Lakers territory. However, the special teams unit delivered a brilliant effort to assist Kennedy in a 78-yard punt return. Earlier this season he tied a program record with a 79-yard return for score against Lock Haven on Sept. 25.

Bloomsburg cut the lead to 28-17 on Fisher's first touchdown catch of the day from 36 yards out, but it was again Kennedy who helped pushed momentum back in the Lakers favor as his 81-yard catch from Rearick highlighted a quick three-play drive with 1:35 left in the opening half.

Opening the second stanza, Bloomsburg started with the ball but Carey was intercepted on a 2nd-and-10 play by Kevin Williams, who returned the ball 28 yards for a score to make it 42-17. On BU's next drive, Quiteh had to leave the game with a leg injury after a short two-yard gain and did not return.

After the team's twice traded punts, Bloomsburg made it a 42-24 game when Carey led a 50-yard scoring drive going the final five yards himself to cut the deficit for the Huskies.

Bloomsburg made it 42-30 early in the fourth period when, following a blocked punt by Ian Wild, Carey hit Kyle Fisher with a 76-yard scoring strike with 11:02 left in the game.

On the next possession for Mercyhurst, Rearick directed a 70-yard scoring drive with Gerald Anderson scoring from one-yard out for a 49-30 lead. Bloomsburg did not quit and came back with a quick scoring driver with Carey hitting Tyler Guise with 23-yard scoring pass cutting the margin to 49-37 with 6:24 left in the game.

But again the Lakers answered a score with one of their own when Garrett Kensy capped the win for Mercyhurst hitting Kennedy with a 17-yard scoring pass. Kensy entered in place of an injured Rearick who would not return.

Defensively, Bryan Boyce and Ryan Taylor led the Lakers with nine stops and Boyce adding a sack. Williams finished with six stops, an interception, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. Bryant Kimball added eight stops and three breakups.

In just its third season as a full-time member of the PSAC, Mercyhurst wins its first conference championship. This is the second consecutive year that two nationally-ranked teams have played for the league title and the lower-ranked team has won.

Mercyhurst posted its first victory over Bloomsburg in the all-time series, avenging losses to nationally-ranked BU teams in 2008 (at #11 BU 24, MC0) and 2009 (#5 BU 17, at MC 7).

The Lakers set the new single-season record for wins (9), moving past the 1984 and 1985 squads that went 8-1 and 8-2 , respectively.

Head coach Marty Schaetzle ties current athletics director Joe Kimball and the Lakers first head coach Tony DeMeo for the program's all-time wins mark. Schaetzle now owns an all-time mark of 41-56 through nine seasons at Mercyhurst.

The Lakers are now undefeated at home, moving to 5-0 on the year. The only other squads to accomplish that feat are the 1981 (3-0 at home) and 1984 (4-0 at home) teams.

Mercyhurst has now defeated two nationally-ranked teams in the same season for the first time in program history after also downing then-ranked No. 3 California (Pa.), 31-21, on Oct. 23.

The Lakers 56 points are the most since in a regulation game since the 1995 team posted a 57-21 win over St. Francis (Pa.) on Oct. 1. The 56 points allowed by the Huskies were the second most given up a Danny Hale-coached team at Bloomsburg (63 to Delta State in 2000 the most allowed). Mercyhurst is now 6-0 this season when scoring 25+ points.

The 56 points are the most in any game since a 58-50 triple-overtime win at home against Wayne State in 2007.

Kevin Williams' 28-yard interception return for touchdown in the first since Ben Bluemle returned one 32 yards to paydirt against Michigan Tech on Sept. 11, 2004.

Travis Rearick set a career-high with 345 yards passing and tied a career-high for the third time this season with four passing touchdowns. His 81-yard strike to Trevor Kennedy is the program's fourth-longest.

Trevor Kennedy set new personal bests with 11 catches for 163 yards. It is his third multiple receiving touchdown game of the year.

Matt Mohr added four catches for 95 yards and a touchdown, his first of his career. Those marks are all career-highs.