Allegheny safety Sid Facaros is a regular on the special teams unit, but in the second quarter of the Gators’ 27-22 win over Kenyon at Frank B. Fuhrer Field on Saturday he earned a free pass on his kick coverage duties.

Facaros was gassed after returning an interception 79 yards for one of the Gators’ two defensive scores that were the difference in their North Coast Athletic Conference win over the Lords (1-6, 0-5 NCAC). Facaros’ TD put Allegheny (3-4, 2-2 NCAC) up 14-0 with 5:28 left in the first half.

“(It was) tipped and right into my hands,” Facaros said. “I just took off. When I started running there was nobody around me. I just kept sprinting and sprinting and there was nobody around me. I couldn’t breathe after that.”

The win ended the Gators’ three-game losing streak.

“This game was hugely important. I don’t know if I can describe it,” said Gator defensive lineman Doug Macik, who had a career-high three sacks. “Being 3-4 is a lot better than being 2-5. If we lost (Saturday), we couldn’t have a winning record. Our defense, especially our linebackers and defensive backs came up huge for us.”

Linebacker Andy Schleihauf put the Gators up 7-0 in the first quarter when he returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown with 5:40 left in the first quarter.

“Those were so big,” said safety Kyle Wilson, who intercepted his team-leading third pass of the season as part of the Gators’ five forced turnovers, “because once we get out on top everybody gets more confident, and they start playing better.”

There were also big because the Gators produced just two touchdowns against the NCAC’s last-place scoring defense (39.4 ppg) and total defense (443.7 yards per game).

Those two offensive touchdowns were, however, just what the Gators’ struggling offense needed.

Sophomore quarterback David Strawser, making his first college start in place of T.J. Salopek who was injured late in last week’s 13-10 loss to Denison, hit Mark Sutton in stride for a 60-yard touchdown with 4:03 left in the third quarter to give Allegheny a 20-9 lead. Ryan Zipf’s extra point attempt was blocked.

“That gave us some space. I felt that was a big turning point in the game,” Matlak said. “That big play created some distance. It got us into a two-score game. We needed that extra room. If we don’t get that, then I think the tide is turning.”

The Gators followed that big play up with a solid 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a Matt Deivert 13-yard touchdown. Deivert’s scoring run came two plays after a holding penalty wiped out his 17-yard TD run. Deivert’s touchdown gave Allegheny a 27-9 lead with 10:11 left in the game.

But after those two productive bursts, the Gator offense slipped back into neutral. They went three-and-out on their next two possessions gaining just eight yards. Kenyon converted both of those possessions into touchdowns by Harry von Kann, Kenyon’s leading receiver. The first von Kann TD cut Allegheny’s lead to 27-15 after quarterback Mike Hermanson was stuffed on a two-point conversion run. von Kann’s second TD made it 27-22 with 42 seconds left in the game.

“(Allegheny) was laying back and just kind of letting us get down the field,” Stanley said.

von Kann finished with 13 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

“We wanted to limit the big play,” Wilson said. “We were going to give (von Kann) his stuff over the middle, as long as we made the tackles. We just didn’t want to give him the big play, the big 70-yard touchdown.”

Kenyon never hit the big play. The Lords’ longest gain was a 31-yard pass completion to von Kann, but they made more than enough of the small plays. Kenyon ran 98 offensive plays for 467 yards, but too many of them ended in turnovers.

“We felt like we could do what we wanted to do, but we throw a pick for a touchdown, we put the ball on the ground for a touchdown, we throw a late pick in third quarter and first drive of the third quarter, we are driving to go score and we fumble the ball again,” Stanley said. “You can’t win games when you do that.”

Despite the five turnovers and four sacks allowed, the Lords still had a chance to win the game. Their onside kick with 42 seconds left in the game was covered by Facaros.

“If we can get an onside kick ... it gives us a chance to win the game, or at least make a play,” Stanley said.

Notes: Macik nearly doubled his career sack total with a three-sack effort Saturday. He came into the game with 3.5 for his career. ... Matlak said they will wait to later in the week before they will know for sure if Salopek will start Saturday at Wooster. ... Allegheny rushed for 110 yards as a team and averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. Deivert was the leading rusher with 47 yards on 15 carries.

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