Sept. 19, 2009

Courtesy of Mercyhurst

ERIE, Pa. -- Mercyhurst College delivered its second upset of a ranked team in as many seasons, this time a 20-16 decision over No. 21 IUP before a Homecoming crowd of 1,635 at Tullio Field.

The Lakers led by a 20-16 margin with just under two minutes left to play and IUP driving deep in Mercyhurst territory. Facing a 4th-and-3 from the Lakers 28-yardline, Crimson Hawks quarterback Andrew Krewatch could not complete his pass to J.J. Townsend along the Mercyhurst sideline and the Lakers took over on downs to seal the victory.

The Lakers defense held strong in the fourth quarter when Krewatch took the Crimson Hawks 67 yards to the Mercyhurst 13 in their previous possession, but Ian Wild stopped Krewatch a yard short of the first down and ended IUP’s threat.

The Lakers then took an intentional safety on a punt with 1:51 left to set up IUP’s last drive in which Krewatch had four passes fall incomplete after connecting with Nate Morrow for a 27-yard connection to the Mercyhurst 35-yardline.

The Mercyhurst defense forced five turnovers on the day, including three interceptions and two fumbles, as the Lakers improved to 2-2 overall, 1-0 in the PSAC West.

Meanwhile, IUP (3-1, 0-1 PSAC West) falls for the first time this year. The loss snaps the Crimson Hawks 26-game winning streak in PSAC West openers and their seven-game winning streak that began with a 42-10 win at home against Mercyhurst a year ago.

IUP opened the scoring with a 31-yard touchdown from Krewatch to Mychal Skinner on its first possession and the Lakers answered with Robert Giambra’s first career field goal from 38-yards out to cap an 11-play, 45 yard drive.

It was a career day for many Lakers, including senior quarterback Joe Laffey, who completed 4-of-6 attempts, including a 20-yard strike to Max Khuri, to set up Giambra’s kick.

Two possessions later, Laffey engineered a 66-yard drive that saw Ben Jennings rumble 18 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Laffey was 4-of-5 on the drive, including a clutch 35-yard bomb to Josh Szeluga that gave the Lakers a first down on the IUP 26-yardline.

Giambra added his second field goal of the year from 33-yards out to give the Lakers a 13-7 lead.
Meanwhile, Laffey would go on to set career highs in completions (21), attempts (40) and yards (264), including a 72-yard touchdown bomb to Khuri for the Lakers final score and a 20-7 advantage with 11:47 left in the third quarter.

As the Lakers offense was firing on all cylinders, so too was the defense as it stopped several IUP drives deep in Mercyhurst territory, including two by interception.

Julius McCormick notched the first pick at Mercyhurst’s 43-yardline in the first quarter, then Tim Herbener picked off Krewatch at the Mercyhurst 44-yardline with just under a minute left in the first half to cap off back-to-back possessions in which the Lakers recorded interceptions after Bryant Kimball collected his second of the year at 4:40.

Wild and Herbener owned a shared-game high eight tackles.  Wild forced a fumble and added a tackle for loss while Herbener also added 1.5 tackles for loss.

IUP notched a 1-yard run by Josh Miller for its only other score.

The Crimson Hawks enjoyed a 106-49 advantage in the running game thanks to 107 yards by the reigning PSAC West Offensive Player of the Week, Tobias Robinson.  They also finished with an advantage in total offense, 366-313, but the Lakers committed just one turnover.

Next up for the Lakers are back-to-back road contests beginning at Lock Haven on Sept. 26 and followed by Slippery Rock on Oct. 3. Mercyhurst defeated both teams at home in 2008.

Quarterback Joe Laffey set career-highs in completions (21), attempts (40), yards (264) and longest reception (72).

Wide receiver Max Khuri established personal bests with nine receptions for 154 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown strike.

Kicker Robert Giambra notched his first career field goal from 38-yards out, then added a second from 33-yards out.

Running back Ben Jennings  upped his career total to 226 carries for 1,157 yards.  He needs 115 yards to move into eighth-place all-time.

Wide receiver Trevor Kennedy set career-highs in receptions (6) and yards (66) to go along with his personal-best 21-yard catch.

Tight end Josh Szeluga is two receptions away from fifth-place on the all-time list while his 1,137 receiving yards are nine yards shy from owning eighth-place all-time.