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LHU: Early missed opportunities lead to lopsided loss at IUP

(LHU ATHLETICS) Lock Haven University linebacker Alex Welch runs with the football in an NCAA football game.

By SAM KUPERMAN

For The Express

Lock Haven University football lost 77-14 at No. 24 Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) Saturday. LHU did not keep the Crimson Hawks out of the end zone aside from kneel downs at the end of each half. However, Lock Haven sustained two really positive offensive drives to begin the game, before two crucial turnovers got in the way.

“At times I thought we did okay,” Lock Haven head coach Dave Taynor said. “But there’s some things we have to get a lot better at.”

The Bald Eagles began the game with the ball and executed immediately. Despite not having All-American tight end Jalen Jackson and redshirt-junior center Matt Farr healthy for this game, Lock Haven moved the ball upfield quickly.

On the second play from scrimmage Lock Haven quarterback Kyle Knight connected with Milesburg native Bryan Greene for 39 yards. Two plays later Taynor got especially creative, putting two quarterbacks on the field and it resulted in Ethan Persa hitting Knight for a 21 yard pass. Soon after running back Chantz Swartz had a 16 yard run that took the Bald Eagles down inside the one yard line (some believe that Swartz was across the goal line and didn’t get the call).

The Bald Eagles would not punch it in, as Swartz lost the ball on the next play with IUP safety Shaq Jones recovering it at his own four. IUP then orchestrated a 10-play 96 yard drive that concluded with a touchdown pass from Quinton Maxwell to JoJo Gause.

Lock Haven got the ball back and once again methodically worked the ball into IUP territory. The 22 of the Crimson Hawks was as far as LHU would get it though. On third down Knight threw a bad interception to Mike Nash at the IUP 11, giving the Crimson Hawks the ball back halfway through the first quarter.

A 24 yard Samir Bullock rushing touchdown on a three minute drive gave the home team an early 14-0 lead that would only swell as the game proceeded.

“I felt like we did a good job the first couple of series offensively,” Taynor said. “We’re playing against a very good defense.”

The absence of Jackson and Farr was evident as the game proceeded. LHU struggled to move the ball the remainder of the first half, and did not have the ability to utilize the tight end position the way it can when Jackson is on the field.

Meanwhile, the defense continued to get exposed against an extremely talented IUP offense. The score was 42-0 at halftime.

“We’re an extremely young group defensively,” Taynor said. “The last two weeks we’ve blown some coverages in quarters that we’ve got to get corrected. That’s the biggest issue, in giving up big plays.”

There were some positives for Lock Haven offensively in the second half. Greene ran a seven yard jet sweep in for a touchdown, and sophomore receiver Christian Drayton III caught a 17 yard pass from Knight in the end zone. That marked Drayton’s first career touchdown reception.

Even so, IUP’s second team offense continued to torch defensive coordinator Marshall Hall’s unit, racking up 608 yards of offense. Nine different Crimson Hawks crossed the plane in the blowout.

Penalties also hurt the Bald Eagles, as they were flagged for 11 penalties and 126 penalty yards. The team has committed over 10 penalties in each of the first three weeks, and will need to clean that up as division play begins.

The reality is that this loss does not hurt Lock Haven in the standings. It was a crossover game against a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West opponent. LHU does fall to 1-2, but can head into PSAC East play in the same position as everyone else in its division.

“I was proud of how they fought throughout the game,” Taynor said. “We’ve got to get better. We’ve got a lot to learn from this. But I feel like to move into the conference schedule we’ll match up a little bit better.”

Saturday’s homecoming game against East Stroudsburg will change that. The Warriors are 3-0, including a victory over Division I Wagner. Now Lock Haven needs to regroup and avoid costly mistakes in order to compete at a high level in the PSAC East.

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