Lock Haven football defeats Bloomsburg 26-18 on Senior Day

For the first time since 2013 when Lock Haven University finished 3-8, the Bald Eagle football team won three games in a single season.

After winning two of their last three, the Bald Eagles made it three wins in their last four outings as they defeated Bloomsburg, 26-18, in LHU Football Senior Day Saturday at Hubert Jack Stadium.

The win over the Huskies was the first time since 2003 that Lock Haven defeated Bloomsburg on the gridiron.

“For us it was Team 9,” said LHU head coach Dave Taynor with a big smile on his face. “I am very proud of our offensive line. Those guys were tough finishing plays. This was big team win for us and one that we needed because we have been in our share of barnburners like last year’s double-overtime game with Bloomsburg. We missed two field goals against East Stroudsburg last year to lose the game and against Kutztown last week we dropped two balls that would have been touchdowns. We hadn’t really figured out how to win those types of ball games, but they got one today.”

After seeing their first possession result in a blocked field goal, the Bald Eagles made their second possession count as they capped a 78-yard, 14-play drive with an 8-yard Caleb Walton to reserve quarterback Cameron Tobias pass for the touchdown. Ethan Harro’s PAT made it 7-0 LHU at the first turn.

With the touchdown toss, Walton became the all-time LHU leader for career passing touchdowns with 62. He also is all alone now with the most total TDs passing and running with 73.

“We had a lot of adversity this year and a lot of young guys and those things slowed us down a little bit,” said Walton. “We started off slow, but now were are going downhill with some momentum. Wins like this one is a great confidence booster for some of the guys who don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves. It is just a great win for the program.”

Maybe more important than the records is the leadership that Walton has provided to the younger players during his three years as a starter.

“Just like any leader in any other aspect of life, when the guys who you led through tough times, to see them get over the hump makes you proud,” said Walton. “It is just an awesome feeling.”

The LHU lead was short-lived, however, as on their second possession, the Huskies matched the LHU TD drive, maneuvering 70 yards on 11 plays, tailback Lawrence Elliott capping the march with a 3-yard burst to paydirt.

With the Elliott score, the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms at halftime, all knotted up at 7-all.

Following the break, the third period was all Lock Haven as the Eagles tallied a pair of touchdowns for a 20-7 lead at the turn for home.

Tailback John Ford broke the stalemate when he bulled in from one yard out with 5:31 left in the third period before Shawn Seif got into the scoring act when he hauled in a pass from Walton and took it to the house for a 48-yard catch-and-run for the score.

“Ford stepped up and made some really big plays,” said Taynor. He got the opportunity the last few weeks and he has taken advantage of it. Defensively the guys stepped up and saved the two big desperation plays they hit and other than those, we pretty much shut them down the whole game.”

Ford was the workhorse in the game as he rushed 35 times for 144 yards and one score.

“I have just been waiting for the opportunity to get in there and it feels great to be able to contribute,” said Ford. “They (the LHU coaches) gave me one (opportunity) so I am just taking everything in stride and doing everything I can. Today I was able to get into the flow of the game, see the holes and run downhill. It really feels good to allow the seniors to go out (at home) with a win. When (coach) Taynor came in here, most everybody bought into the system. Some of the guys didn’t buy in, but those that did and stayed around, for them, I am glad to give them a good send off. Hopefully we can win out for them now.”

Seif, still operating with a cast on his left wrist, made three crucial receptions for 92 yards and one score.

“It definitely does,” said Seif about the cast causing him to concentrate more on making a catch. “It is pretty hard to catch the ball with three fingers so it makes me focus way more than what I had to do without the club. Staying focused is the main point, just seeing the ball all the way in and catching the ball with my eyes and not with my hands.”

As for his ability to run away from defenders, Seif said, “It is a wonderful feeling. It is a feeling that I can’t really explain. My whole soul just lifts up and I just run with the wind. Coming out here and beating a team like Bloom who we haven’t beaten in about 30 years is a wonderful feeling. We bought a spark today and I think we showed the teams in the PSAC that we are for real.”

Less than two minutes into the final period, LHU completed its 19-point explosion when wide receiver Luklus White scored from four yards out. The PAT from placement was no good, but with the 19 unanswered points, the LHU lead had ballooned to 26-7.

Playing somewhat “soft” on defense, the Huskies took advantage of the change in strategy by the Bald Eagles to score a pair of touchdowns, cutting the Haven lead to 26-18 with 4:24 left in the game.

However, not to let the game get away from them, The Haven, operating from the shadows of its own end zone (10-yard line), put together a game-saving drive that allowed them to run out the clock to preserve the huge win.

“The one thing we have to learn is when you are up by a good little chunk against a good team, they have some things in their back pocket that they are going to reach for and grab,” said Taynor. “Hopefully we learned today that we have to make sure that we are prepared for those things.”

Leading the LHU defense that accepted the withstood the challenges of a Husky comeback was Kevin Chapple with nine tackles including eight solo stops, two sacks and three tackles for loss. The LHU “D” unit also picked the pocket of Bloomsburg quarterback Duffy Gilhool three times, Isaiah Flamer, Javon Whitfield and Christian Martir doing the honors.

Complementing Chapple’s effort were Rahjier Miles-Eubanks and Flamer each with nine tackles.

Prior to the game, the Bald Eagles recognized their seniors for their contributions to the program during the past few years.

Included in that group were Adrian Pritchett, Walton, Carmelo Cruz, Dan Krupko, Jacob Jones, Kevin Chapple, Rahjeir Miles-Eubanks, Ryan Fink, Shane Rafter, Seif, Tyler Gallashaw and William Sensenderfer.

“Those guys have battled for us all year and to see them win their final game on their home field was just great,” said Taynor. “We have a lot of young guys coming back next year, but we will miss the seniors.”

Now 3-6 overall, the Bald Eagles will close out their season with two games on the road, traveling to East Stroudsburg Saturday for their final conference game with the Warriors before bringing the curtain down on the entire season the following Saturday when they make their way out I-80 and up I-79 to Erie to face the Mercyhurst Lakers.