Nov. 27, 2010

Courtesy of Mercyhurst Athletics

ERIE, Pa. -
Mercyhurst College quarterback Travis Rearick threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another as the 11th-ranked Lakers downed No. 20 Bloomsburg, 28-14, in the second round of the NCAA II Football Championship.

Seeded second in Super Region One, the Lakers (10-2) will now host fourth-seeded Shepherd on Saturday, Dec. 4. The Rams upset top-seeded Kutztown, 41-34. Kickoff and ticket information for the regional championship will be announced later this week.

In a rematch of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championship game that the Lakers won by a 56-37 count, the Lakers ended Bloomsburg's (10-3) season and held the Huskies to their lowest point total since a 24-14 loss at Ashland to open the season.

Meanwhile, Rearick directed the Lakers to their seventh consecutive victory in what was an historic day all-around. Not only did Mercyhurst host, play and win its first-ever NCAA playoff game, head coach Marty Schaetzle became the program's victory leader with a 42-56 mark in nine seasons. The seven-straight wins are also a program record.

Mercyhurst opened the scoring early in the first thanks to a fine defensive effort that set up a short field for Rearick and the Laker offense. In the Huskies first possession of the game, defensive end Dan Kruper came out of nowhere and forced a fumble by Bloomsburg quarter back Pat Carey. An alert Fred Hale scooped up the ball at the Bloomsburg 19-yardline and ran to the Bloom 8-yardline. Two players later Rearick dove in from three yards out.

The Huskies had a chance to put points on the board two possessions later after taking over at the Mercyhurst 40-yardline following a short punt. However, Dan Fisher's 43-yard field goal attempt went wide left.

Two possessions later for the Lakers, Mercyhurst extended its lead to 14-0 following an eight-play, 84-yard drive that took 4:12 off the clock. Starting at their own 16-yardline, the Lakers benefitted from several long plays, including two 13-yard catches by Terrence Coon, a 16-yard catch by Jeff Groene and two rushes by Gerald Anderson of nine and 10 yards. On the drive, Rearick was a perfect 4-for-4, including the final 24-yard touchdown strike to Anderson.

Coon finished with a game-high eight catches for 108 yards while Groene tied a career-high with six catches and set a new personal-best with 66 yards receiving.

In the third quarter, Mercyhurst pushed its advantage to 21-0 with just over five minutes left on another long drive that took 13 plays and covered 70 yards in a little over seven methodical minutes. With several defensive starters on the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-one from the Bloomsburg 3-yardline, Rearick scrambled to his right in the north end zone before firing to a wide open Tim Herbener in the back of the end zone. The touchdown catch marked the first of the starting linebacker's career.

The Huskies finally got on the board in their next possession when Franklyn Quiteh rushed in from four yards out with 4:16 remaining in the third quarter. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard run by Quiteh, D-II's leading rusher that moved the ball from the Mercyhurst 48 to the Laker 11-yard line.

Neither team would score again until 7:00 in the final stanza when Rearick connected with Coon on a 48-yard pass. Again, Rearick was a perfect 4-for-4 in the drive that reminded fans of the fast and furious scoring drives the two teams featured in the league title match.

Bloomsburg answered in its next drive for the game's final score as Carey completed a nine-yard pass to Ben Weaber to cap off a 10-play, 35-yard drive.

Mercyhurst was able to recover the onside kick, but had to punt the ball back to the Huskies. Bloomsburg then moved to the Laker nine-yard line before turning the ball over on downs with just seconds left in the game.

Defensively, the Lakers held Bloomsburg to a season-low 251 yards of total offense. Kevin Williams led the charge with nine tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss. Bryan Boyce added five tackles, including two sacks and Kruper finished with four stops and two for sacks. Cornerback Bryant Kimball had four tackles on the day and five pass break ups.