Lock Haven carries Bloomsburg win momentum against Warriors

Lock Haven University quarterback Caleb Walton (5) passes against Shippensburg University. LHU has won 4 out of its last 5 games.

LOCK HAVEN — Heading into week 10 of the 2016 football season, there is both good and bad news for the Lock Haven University football team.

The good news is that the Bald Eagles are coming off a huge win over Bloomsburg, their third win in the last four games.

As for the bad news, their last two games of the campaign require two long road trips to East Stroudsburg and then Erie (Mercyhurst). Although playing the games on the road, LHU head coach Dave Taynor sees the trips as a positive for his squad.

“As a coach, I have always liked away games, in part, because you get away from the everyday rigors of the college setting,” said Taynor. “They are student/athletes at home and on the road, but when they go off campus we can tunnel our attention in on focusing on the game and traveling like a professional. Senior Day and Homecoming are great times for the athletes and the Haven community, but with those days come a lot of emotion and possible distractions. For our last two games of the season, we have the opportunity to go on the road, play Team 10 and when we get this win it will put us in a position to have a winning record in the PSAC-East which is one of our goals.”

As for the hangover effect from the big win over Bloom, Taynor doesn’t see that as a problem for his squad.

“It (winning) manifests itself that way because it has been a process,” he said. “At the beginning of the year we were playing a lot of guys who had a lot of talent, but really weren’t ready to play. Defensively you can break our season into the first four games and everything since that time. In the first four games, we got ourselves in a bad position and made a lot of mistakes. That doesn’t mean that we were bad football players, but we were just in bad positions and gave up big plays as a result of it. Starting with game five, we have put ourselves in a better position to play the style of football that I had hoped to see since I got here. At any given time, we were able to present a multitude of situations that would put pressure on our opponents to give us a better chance to win.”

When facing the Warriors, the Bald Eagle defense will have to deal with one of the most versatile athletes it has faced all year in Robert Healy. Primarily a running back, Healy has also shown his ability as a receiver to make him a dual threat.

“Number 29 (Healy) is a very good and versatile football player,” said Taynor. “They use him as a running back, as a receiver and all over the place. He got injured in the last game, but I really expect to see him on Saturday. It is his senior day and when it comes down to it, he is someone that we have to limit what he can do. He is a different style back than what we played last week who was a slashing type of runner. Healy (29) is an elusive type of runner. We affectionately call him Gumby because you just can’t seem to hit him square. When you hit him, he sort of bends around the contact and slides off of it. He is just a good football player.”

While Healy is the primary cylinder in the ESU engine, quarterback Bruce Campbell is certainly anything but chopped liver. Through the first nine games, Campbell had passed for 1,280 yards and nine touchdowns, although he has been moved down on the depth chart in recent games.

While amassing his 1,000-plus yards through the airways, Campbell has spread the wealth around as the Warriors boast a half dozen receivers with 150 yards or more.

“They are a multiple style offense,” said Taynor. “I would expect to see number 17 (Tim DiGorigo) play because he has been their starter the last two games. They have a number 80 (Tim Wilson) at wide receiver and he is an explosive guy and number 15 (Javier Buffalo) is a freshman and he has made some big plays for them. They’ll spread the wealth around a little bit and force you to defend the whole field.”

As with any opponent, there are a number of keys that could play a role in the success of LHU Saturday afternoon.

“We need to effectively run the ball,” said Taynor. “They do a good job of moving their front so we have to be disciplined in how we work exchanges and things up front. On the back end, we need to create good match-ups and there are some things that we feel we can do with our receivers on certain guys in different coverage looks. And thirdly we have to protect the football. A big part of the game last Saturday was the fact that we created three takeaways and we possessed the football without turning it over. Our defensive backs did an outstanding job of breaking on the ball. I told the guys on Sunday that it was the first game where I saw confident action, meaning the guy saw the play, saw it happening and attacked without hesitating. When you play without hesitation, you play physical football. When you don’t hesitate it enables you to make plays and that is the way we played last week.”

Any coach wants to see his team make progress and get better. As for Taynor, he and his staff are seeing that from the Bald Eagles as each week passes.

“That (improvement) is the intent and that is the reason why you practice,” Taynor said. “There is a process in being good at something and the hope is that you improve a little bit every day. We have made strides in that area and hopefully it will continue.”

Kickoff at Eiler-Martin Stadium for the LHU-ESU clash is set for 1:05 p.m. Saturday.