By Pete Chiodo
With high-flying quarterback Cody Harris still sidelined with an injury, the Edinboro football team had to look for a new way to move the ball on offense.
Enter Jeremy Donaldson.
On Saturday, the sophomore Donaldson ran for a career-high 144 yards on 16 carries, including a 62-yard touchdown run to start the second half, as the Fighting Scots leveled Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference crossover opponent Lock Haven 31-6 at Sox Harrison Stadium.
“We came out and everyone on my offensive line told me, ‘We’ve got to get you 100 yards,’” said Donaldson. “I had 89 for the past two games. ‘We’ve got to get 100.’ We wanted it and we got it.”
The Scots ran for a season-best 226 yards in the outing.
“(Donaldson) gets better every snap,” said ’Boro head coach Scott Browning. “He’s had a heck of a year for us so far. And I thought today he even got better. I think he’s the kind of back that the more times you give him the football the better he is.”
It was the Scots’ second win in a row, improving their record to 3-2 on the season.
“It’s awesome,” said sophomore guard and Maplewood product Jacob Potts. “We had a couple bad games there. But we stuck together. And getting two wins in a row feels good.”
And it happened during homecoming at Edinboro.
“Homecoming — you gotta love it,” said Donaldson.
It wasn’t just the offense doing the damage either. The Scots’ defense held Lock Haven (2-3) to 253 yards total and forced three turnovers.
Of those yards, 145 of them came on Lock Haven’s first two drives. The first lasted 12 plays and traveled 70 yards, reaching ’Boro’s 5-yard line before running out of steam. Eagles kicker Alex Bourmerhi lined up for a 22-yard field goal attempt. During the kick, however, Scots cornerback Devin Ghafoor streaked into the backfield and got in front of it.
“We watched it in film and we saw that their tackle was sliding down too far,” said Ghafoor. “So I just shot in right off of his leg and blocked it.”
Edinboro took over on their own 16. And 14 plays later, the Scots had gobbled up all 84 yards, Redshirt freshman quarterback John Girvin led the way, completing six of seven passes for 46 yards and rushing the final four yards for the touchdown to give Edinboro a 7-0 lead.
Lock Haven pieced together another nice drive on its second possession. This time the Bald Eagles would go 75 yards, the final 41 of which coming on a touchdown pass from quarterback Dillon Mazzoni to receiver James Wilbern. Bourmerhi’s tough day continued, however, as his extra point try went wide to the right, leaving Edinboro clinging to a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter.
Once again, however, Edinboro’s defense would provide the team with a momentum surge. And once again it was Ghafoor acting as catalyst, as he picked off a pass by Mazzoni and returned it 38 yards to Lock Haven’s 16.
That play led to a 30-yard field goal by ’Boro kicker Mike Simons.
Later in the second, a muffed punt by Lock Haven set the Scots up on Lock Haven’s 33. The Scots were able to turn that snafu into six points when freshman quarterback Cameron Sheppard scored on a 2-yard run on the first play of his collegiate career.
“We planned on putting in Cam Sheppard in the third series from the first day of the week, back on Monday,” said Browning. “We just feel like down the stretch we’re going to need more than one quarterback with losing Cody. So we’re going to continue to play Cam, and we’re going to play Matt Bodamer.”
Sheppard’s touchdown gave Edinboro a 17-6 lead at the half.
That lead would soon expand by another touchdown as the third got under way. On the Scots’ opening drive, they were facing a third-and-1 on their own 38. Donaldson got the hand-off, zipped through a hole in the middle of the line and was off to the races.
“We went in at halftime. We talked about (the play),” said Donaldson. “We ran it. It was perfect execution. There was nothing there for me, just an open lane.”
The play, said Browning, “was big for us. I thought our offensive line did a nice job. They came out in a two tight end set and just got on people. And Jeremy read it and ran.”
The Scots defense then tightened up in the second half, holding Lock Haven to a mere 68 yards of offense.
And before time ran out, Edinboro tacked on one more touchdown when running back John Washington capped off a 14-play, 80-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring rush.