Too many dumb penalties, too many miscues and too little offense doomed the Allegheny College football team in it’s 2007 season-opener against Westminster, Saturday at Frank B. Fuhrer Field.

Final score: Titans 13, Gators 6.

“We beat ourselves, really,” said Gators receiver James Jones. “We’d start driving — personal foul. On defense, we’d get a stop — personal foul. We missed a field goal. We missed an extra point.

“We still had chances at the end, but ...”

With under a minute to go in the game, Allegheny had two cracks at the end zone that both came up empty.

On third down from Westminster’s 10-yard line sophomore quarterback T.J. Salopek tried to hit Jones in the right-hand corner. The pass was on target, but safety Mario Camerota got a hand on it and knocked it away.

On fourth down, Salopek tried for Jake Vite in the left-hand corner. Once again the ball was headed for the receiver’s arms, but cornerback Eric Brown made another nice play to bat the ball away.

“To me, that was just (Camerota and Brown) finding it deep down, finding something, whatever they’ve got left” said Westminster quarterback Brett Myers. “They both sold out and made two amazing plays to, really, save us the win.”

Myers did his own part to earn that win, completing 23-of-33 passes for a career-best 228 yards. He spread the ball around to 10 different receivers, led by Jason Discello who had six catches and 44 yards.

“We have three quarterbacks and we made the decision to go with Myers,” said Westminster coach Jeff Hand. “And he did a quality job for us.”

On Westminster’s first possession of the game, Myers directed the Titans on a six-play, 64-yard drive that ended with the senior QB connecting with tight end Gary Hutsler on a 12-yard touchdown pass over the middle.

Later in the period, Allegheny had a chance to make the score 7-3, but Josh Whiteside’s 39-yard field goal attempt was wide left.

In the second quarter, Titans kicker Fred Romeo knocked through a 30-yard field goal to put the Titans ahead 10-0. Allegheny still had yet to answer, and wouldn’t for the rest of the half.

The Gators’ offense needed a spark. And they got it in Salopek.

Senior Drew Stelzer started the game under center for Allegheny. He went 7-for-17 for 74 yards and never really got the offense to move consistently. Some of it was Stelzer being a little off-target. Some of it was due to Allegheny’s 73 yards of penalties.

“We had four personal fouls,” said Allegheny coach Mark Matlak. “We had one drive-killer, one kick-return killer and we kept (Westminster) alive twice. And there were all kinds of other snafus.”

Salopek took over the offense with a couple minutes to go in the third quarter and promptly marched the Gators down the field 59 yards for a score.

On 3rd-and-20, Salopek arced a pass towards Vite just in front of the goal line. The pass was too high for the 6-foot-3 Vite, but Jones scooted under the ball and made the catch in the end zone for the touchdown.

Whiteside’s extra point try was wide right.

Salopek continued to move the Gators around the field in the fourth quarter, culminating in that pair of tries at the end of the game. He was 7-for-13 for 97 yards in the game.

“The only bright spot was Salopek giving us a little spark in the second half,” said Matlak. “And then nothing else. I really don’t have much else good to say. When you can’t kick the ball at either end, that’s not good. ”

Allegheny also had trouble punting the ball. Jason Black averaged over 41 yards a punt, but one of his attempts was deflected by a defender. And in the fourth quarter, Black found himself under pressure and had to tuck in the ball and run. He only got a yard, setting up Westminster on Allegheny’s 19.

The Titans capped off that possession with a 21-yard field goal by Romeo, making the score 13-6.

Romeo also had some trouble kicking the ball. He had a 36-yard attempt blocked by Curt Anderson in the second quarter. And he was wide-left on a 39-yarder in the third.



Pete Chiodo can be reached at 724-6370 ext. 275 or by e-mail at pchiodo@meadvilletribune.com.

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