Crimson Hawks welcome Mercyhurst for PSAC West showdown
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 09:10
The 20th-ranked Crimson Hawks hope to soar in a pivotal PSAC West game over the Mercyhurst Lakers.
The Hawks are coming home after a 26-10 victory against Edinboro last weekend, while Mercyhurst comes in after getting by crosstown rival Gannon 38-29.
In the game against Edinboro, senior running back Harvie Tuck became the second all-time leading rusher in IUP history when he scored on a touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. That gives him 3,854 yards for his career and puts him 995 yards from passing Michael Mann for first all-time.
Tuck won’t be the only running back featured in this game; Mercyhurst brings their star, Brandon Brown-Dukes, who is currently third in the PSAC in rushing yards with 889 yards rushing and also has 10 touchdowns.
“It’s two backs, a lot of two tights,” Head Coach Curt Cignetti said. “With one receiver, its about 30 percent of what they do.”
Brown-Dukes is the main cog in the Mercyhurst offense this season, but there is also a threat from the quarterback position with Anthony Vendemia.
Vendemia has thrown for 1,035 yards and has 10 touchdown passes this season. Even with those numbers, the Lakers are still a run-first team and also feature running back, Allen Jones II, who has 469 yards rushing this season and five touchdowns.
Those three main weapons are why the Lakers come in as one of the hottest teams in the PSAC with six wins in a row.
However, looking deeper into those six wins, the competition hasn’t been the most challenging. They haven’t beaten a team with a winning record yet this season and their last three opponents (Cheyney, Lock Haven, Gannon) are a combined 2-19 on the season.
Even if their schedule has been a little weak, they still are a dangerous team that the Hawks have to be worried about.
Also a bit of concern for the Hawks, other than the Lakers, has been the passing game. IUP ranks 14 out of 16 teams in average passing yards per game at 144, just ahead of Lock Haven and Cheyney.
Even with the lack of yards passing the ball, the Hawks still have one of the best rushing attacks in the country. They average 303 yards rushing per game, which is good for sixth in the nation, and could be effective against the Lakers, who are 10th in the conference in rushing yards allowed at 169 yards per game.
“They’re a three-three stack team, which we don’t see many of those teams,” Cignetti said.