Hawks overcome another slow start to dominate Mercyhurst 31-13
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 13:10
The Crimson Hawks have been accustomed to slow starts on the football field in recent weeks, but coupled with the Crimson Hawks’ early struggles has been subsequent flat-out domination.
After managing just seven points in the first half last Saturday, the team again improved down the stretch, handing Mercyhurst its first loss in seven weeks by a score of 31-13.
Senior running back Harvie Tuck, who moved into second place in school history for career rushing yardage last week, continued to pile onto an astounding résumé with 231 yards on 30 carries—his fourth outing of more than 200 on the year. Tuck, who also hauled in a 49-yard pass against the Lakers, scored a pair of touchdowns over 20 yards; giving him 14 scores in eight games.
Tuck is also Division II’s leading rusher with 1,404 yards.
Number two back De’Antwan Williams, who gained 63 yards on nine carries behind Tuck, seemed to propel the Hawks’ late turnaround with a 40-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. At the time of Williams’ score, IUP had already taken a 14-13 lead, but wide receiver Pat Brewer saw the touchdown as a display of the team’s changed attitude in the second half.
Brewer, who leads IUP’s receivers with 23 catches for 345 yards this season, said the Hawks realized they needed to take the field in the third quarter with a physical mentality after allowing Mercyhurst to take a 13-7 lead early in the second.
Pointing to one of his motivating teammates, Brewer called senior offensive tackle Dan Matha “our Ray Lewis” in the locker room.
“Our goal was to start fast, but that didn’t happen,” Head Coach Curt Cignetti said.
Despite blocking an extra point on Mercyhurt’s first touchdown, IUP struggled to gain momentum early on, scoring on just one of its opening five drives.
Cignetti didn’t hesitate to acknowledge his team’s rebound, however, noting the Hawks’ physical edge in the final two quarters.
Early on, Mercyhurst running back Brandon Brown-Dukes put the Hawks’ typically stout defensive front on their heels, ultimately finishing with 134 yards on the ground. Dukes’ one-yard touchdown run in the first gave the Lakers the first points of the day, while a four-yard scramble by Mercyhurst quarterback Anthony Vendemia, who was upended on the run, added to the lead.
After De’Antwan Williams’ touchdown run in the fourth, IUP’s offense finally appeared to get back on track.
Starting at their own 44-yard line on a series shortly afterward, the Hawks put Mercyhurst in a two-score deficit by converting on a 30-yard field goal, then sealed the victory with Tuck’s second score of the game, which came with less than two minutes to play.
IUP’s defense also deserves credit for its performance, shutting out Mercyhurst in the second half and paving the way for the Hawks’ run of unanswered points.