Ground Game Gets on Track as Gators Blank Kenyon, 24-0
MEADVILLE, Pa. – Allegheny rushed for a season-high 152 yards and scored three times on the ground in powering to a 24-0 victory over North Coast Athletic Conference-rival Kenyon College. The Gators, who also totaled a season-best 419 yards of total offense, shutout the Lords for the sixth time in the team's last 11 meetings.
The Gators (3-2, 1-1 NCAC) capitalized on two personal fouls and an outstanding play by Shane Heschke to rip Kenyon out of the red zone late in the third after having a first-and-goal from the seven, while the pass defense came up huge after stopping the Lords on four straight downs in a goal situation midway through the fourth. Kenyon (0-5, 0-3) also endured a 28-yard field goal miss and was whistled for roughing the kicker which negated a punt return for touchdown. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Allegheny turned the new set of downs into its last score of the day as the Gators drove 95 yards on 14 plays. Quarterback T.J. Salopek capped the drive with a four-yard rush up the middle.
Salopek enjoyed a solid day of work, finishing 20-of-29 for 267 yards. He became the first quarterback in program history to throw for 600 career completions on a 42-yard connection to Matt Griffith in the second. Griffith had a career day with six catches for 92 yards, although he was just one of several outstanding efforts for the Blue and Gold on Saturday. David Strawser hauled in a game-high eight grabs for 80 yards, while rookie Sean Acosta totaled 134 all-purpose yards. Acosta rushed 16 times for a game-high 89 yards, and tacked on three receptions for 45 yards.
Allegheny broke a scoreless deadlock late in the opening quarter as Acosta scored his first career touchdown from four yards out. The drive, which featured six plays to the rookie back from Tualatin, Ore., covered 49 yards on seven plays.
After fumbling away its first possession of the game, which was recovered by junior Daniel Hapfer, the Kenyon offense was forced to punt on its next four possessions. Allegheny went 67 yards on its first series of the second quarter, ending with a 28-yard field goal by Ryan Zipf that pushed the advantage to 10-0.
The Lords' ensuing possession started strong, but came to an abrupt end as Zach Bell intercepted a third-down pass at the Allegheny 27. The Gators once again capitalized on the mistake, driving 65 yards in the opposite direction en route to another touchdown. Salopke finished 4-of-5 for 44 yards on the drive, while Brian Tamburlin closed out the march with a three-yard run. The Gators, who had only two rushing touchdowns in the first four games, kept it on the carpet for three scores against Kenyon.
Dan Shannon completed 29-of-41 throws for 242 yards to lead the Kenyon attack, although he was sacked three times, including a half-ending sack by George Pappas and John Douglas on a drive into Allegheny territory.
Zach Minney and Joel Trembulak also had sacks for the Gators' defense, while Sid Facaros paced the unit with seven tackles. The defense did yield a season-high 326 yards of offense to the Lords, but came up with big plays as needed to protect the shutout while forcing at least one turnover for the fifth straight game.
Andrew DeJong, who entered the weekend tilt as the NCAA punt leader, boosted his average after averaging 50 yards on four kicks.