By Lisa Byers
October 14, 2012 7:00 a.m. EDINBORO —
One of the best defenses against a team of Indiana (Pa.)’s caliber is to limit the time the ball is in its possession.
Edinboro did a pretty standup job of that in the first half of its Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West showdown against the nationally-ranked Crimson Hawks at Sox Harrison Stadium. The Fighting Scots weren’t quite as successful in the second half and IUP made them pay.
The Hawks possessed the ball for 21 minutes and two seconds in the second half and scored 10 unanswered points on their way to a 26-10 win over the Scots.
IUP, ranked No. 20 in the D2Football.com Top 25 and No. 22 in the AFCA Top 25 polls, improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the PSAC West. Edinboro fell to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference.
“It’s tough,” Edinboro quarterback Cody Harris said. “You put your heart into it and you come up short in the second half. We came out in the first half fine. The second half … it was just a few adjustments you know. You can put the loss on me.”
Harris did have an off day by this season’s standards, completing just 22 of 40 passes for 185 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The junior was coming off back-to-back 300-plus yard performances. He had also thrown just two interceptions on the year.
But much of Harris’ performance on Saturday can be attributed to the work of the offensive line that gave up five sacks and helped create just 46 yards rushing. The Scots had minus-15 yards rushing in the second half with just one rush for positive yardage.
“Offensively, up front, we didn’t get the job done,” Edinboro coach Scott Browning said. “That’s the bottom line. They wore us down.”
IUP jumped on the board first. The Crimson Hawks took advantage of a Harris interception and needed just two runs by Harvie Tuck to punch the ball into the endzone from six yards out. The drive took all of 33 seconds to complete. IUP had the ball for just two more minutes in the first quarter.
The other 12 minutes and 27 seconds belonged to the Scots, who orchestrated a 19-play, 90-yard scoring drive that took eight minutes and seven seconds off the clock to tie the game at 7-7 with 2:57 to play in the opening quarter.
Tight end Seth Hembree hauled in the six-yard pass from Harris for the touchdown. Sean Seefeldt added the extra-point kick.
Edinboro’s first possession of the second quarter followed a similar pattern. The Scots put together another lengthy drive. This one covered 62 yards on 14 plays and ended with a 39-yard field goal by Seefeldt that put the Scots up 10-7 with 7:44 to play in the half.
“We had the ball for over 21 minutes and I thought we were very methodical offensively,” Browning said. “I really liked what we saw. The second half we had to come out and do the same thing. And they got after us.
“I don’t know that they did anything different. They just came harder.”
IUP took the lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mike Box with 4:04 to play in the third quarter. Brett Ullman finished the scoring for IUP in the period to give the Hawks a 16-10 lead after three.
Edinboro held the Hawks to another field goal early in the fourth quarter, but Tuck sealed it up for IUP later with a 31-yard touchdown run.
“We just couldn’t seem to execute down the stretch,” Edinboro tight end Shawn Walker said. “We had some good opportunities we just couldn’t execute. It was a tough second half for us.”
The second half was a little tougher due to the loss of wide receiver Marcus Johnson, Harris’ favorite target. Johnson went into the game with an injury and it was unknown how effective he would be or how long he would be able to play.
He left in the second quarter and came out of the locker room with his teammates in the second half with a hoodie on. He didn’t return to the game.
“Losing Marcus is a big deal,” Harris said. “Marcus is a great player.”
The Scots were already without star cornerback James Jackson, who was ejected in the third quarter of the Scots’ win over Gannon and forced to sit out a game, rookie receiver Jordan Williams and running backs D’Andre Vaughn and John Washington among others. Defensive end Blaine Iskula and linebacker Cory Hayes both left the game with injuries.
“I’m not sure where we’re at,” Browning said. “We’ll find out tomorrow and assess all of that and go from there.”
Tuck finished the game with 178 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. The Scots were effective against the pass, holding Box to just seven completions for 65 yards.
Edinboro’s top offensive gainer was Kevin Sonnie with 38 yards receiving. Walker had three catches for 31 yards.