By Pete Chiodo
It’s fairly late in the fourth quarter. Bloomsburg is up 40-28. The Huskies have a second down and nine. Franklyn Quiteh, Bloomsburg’s tailback, gets the hand-off, but the line in front of him gets pushed back by the Edinboro defense.
Quiteh puts his head down and plows into the tangled mess in front of him. It’s a massive scrum. The senior ball-carrier disappears completely. It looks like the play is over with minimal gain for the Huskies.
Then all of the sudden out pops Quiteh from the other side of the mass of bodies, his legs still pistoning away, and off he darts for a 47-yard touchdown.
For four seasons it’s been like this. Quiteh just doesn’t go down without one heck of a fight.
And Saturday, the 5-foot-10, 206-pound rusher etched that ethos in the record books as the 15th-ranked Huskies defeated Edinboro 47-35 at Sox Harrison Stadium.
Quiteh carried the ball 31 times for 231 yards and three touchdowns. And during that effort he became the new record holder for career rushing yards in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. He ended the game with 5,741 yards, surpassing the previous record of 5,689 set by Bloomsburg’s Jamar Brittingham in 2007.
“It’s a blessing,” said Quiteh. “I’m just so appreciative of my team, the offensive line, the coaches, my family, all of my supporters. It’s a remarkable accomplishment and I can’t even take all of the credit. It’s a team thing. And I really do appreciate those guys in the locker room.”
Considering the caliber of running back his Fighting Scots were facing, and considering his team turned the ball over five times in the game, Edinboro head coach Scott Browning wasn’t hanging his head all that low after the loss.
“You know what? I like our football team, I really do,” said Browning. “We made a bundle of mistakes, which really shocks me. I’m shocked about that. I knew we were playing a good football team. But when you turn the ball over five times and still score 35 points and close to 500 yards of offense ...”
Statistically, the game was pretty even. Bloomsburg had 526 yards of offense, 383 of which were generated on the ground. Meanwhile, Edinboro gained 514 yards, led by a 25-for-32, 360-yard passing performance by quarterback Cody Harris.
The un-equalizer in this case was all the turnovers committed by the Fighting Scots.
“When you’re playing a good team like Bloomsburg, if you’re going to turn the ball over it’s going to change the game,” said Harris. “They’re going to make you pay for your mistakes. They scored on three of the turnovers (in the first half), three of the opportunities we gave them. It changed the ball game. If those don’t happen, it could have been a different story.”
In the first half it looked as though Bloomsburg was going to run away with the contest.
Edinboro started out well enough, taking its first drive 76 yards on six plays and scoring on a 54-yard pass from Harris to D’Andrea Vaughn.
Then it was all Bloomsburg.
The Huskies answered ’Boro’s initial score with a five-play, 47-yard drive that ended with a 36-yard field goal from Dan Fisher.
Later in the first, Edinboro suffered its first turnover of the day when Harris was picked off by Tyler Knoblauch, who returned the ball back to ’Boro’s 29 yard line. Four plays later, Quiteh busted into the end zone from five yards out, putting the Huskies ahead 10-7.
To start the second quarter, Harris completed a seven-yard pass to Ben Eisel, but Eisel fumbled the ball away and Bloom’s Thomas Cabrera jumped on it.
A handful of plays later, Bloomsburg was back in the end zone, this time on a one-yard plunge by Tim Kelly.
Then on second down of Edinboro’s next series, Harris connected with Marcus Johnson on a 29-yard pass. But Johnson fumbled the ball away and the Huskies again recovered.
Bloomsburg converted that turnover into another seven points. Dai’Shon Munger rumbled in from four yards away, making it 24-7 Huskies.
Edinboro finally answered with a five-play 69-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a 50-yard touchdown pass from Harris to Johnson.
But Bloomsburg snuck in one more touchdown before the end of the half. The Huskies marched 75 yards on nine plays and hit paydirt on a two-yard rush by Quiteh, making it 31-14 at the break.
The Scots fought back in the second half, though.
The defense managed to slow down the Huskies’ running attack a bit. And in the third quarter, Devin Ghafoor picked off a pass attempt by Kelly and returned it to the Huskies’ 36.
Nine plays later, Cody Harris somersaulted into the end zone on a four-yard keeper to cut the Huskies’ lead to 31-21.
Bloomsburg responded with a seven-play, 50-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal by Fisher. That kick gave the Huskies yet another PSAC record, as it was Fisher’s 290th career point — a new standard for conference kickers. He would add another point before the game was done.
After the field goal, Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards into the end zone, but it was called back due to an illegal block. On the Scots’ first play from scrimmage, however, Harris delivered the pigskin to the end zone for receiver Jordan Williams for six points.
It was now Bloomsburg 34, Edinboro 28. The Scots were just a touchdown away and there was still a whole quarter left to play.
Edinboro’s defense stopped Bloomsburg on its next possession. Yet, the Scots’ offense had a fumble bug relapse on its next set of downs. Jeremy Donaldson coughed the ball up right at midfield.
Bloomsburg answered with a touchdown drive, capped by an eight-yard end zone run by Munger.
Quiteh later added that 47-yard, pileup-evading TD run to make it 47-28 Huskies.
“It was a busted play,” said Quiteh. “Edinboro did a great job covering that play. I just made a couple cuts, and my line picked me up and pushed me. I felt a little thrust, so I just kept going. I was like, ‘Oh, the play’s not dead.’ So I just kept running.”
Before time ran out, Harris hooked up with Eisel on a six-yard touchdown pass to make it 47-35. But Bloomsburg recovered the onside kick and drained out the clock for the victory.