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Lock Haven University takes 41-0 road loss to Kutztown University

Dontae Mason (10) of Lock Haven University Football runs during an NCAA college football game against Kutztown University on Saturday, October 13, 2018. The Bald Eagles lost the game, 41-0. (Photo courtesy of Lock Haven University Football)

KUTZTOWN — Extreme turnover woes for LHU Football lead to a blowout loss at Kutztown.

When the turnovers add up for Lock Haven (1-6, 1-2 PSAC East), boy do they add up. LHU gave the ball away six times at 19th ranked Kutztown (6-0, 3-0 PSAC East) Saturday, doing so via three interceptions and three fumbles. The Bald Eagles lost, 41-0.

“You can’t turn the football over,” Lock Haven Football head coach Dave Taynor said. “Kutztown has a very good offense. They outmatched us a little bit from their offense throughout the game and did some very good things, and we knew they were gonna be a tough game.”

Kutztown racked up all of its points in the first half. This comes off of a five turnover outing in a 24-6 home loss to Millersville last week.

Lock Haven once again moved the ball up the field, accounting for 366 yards on the afternoon, but couldn’t get on the scoreboard. Five of the six turnovers occurred in Kutztown territory, with three of those coming inside the red zone.

“We’ve had three games this year which we’ve now turned the ball over too many times in those games,” Taynor said. “You can’t do that and expect to compete.”

The Bald Eagles have scored just seven first quarter points this season. LHU went three and out on its first two drives, with a Kutztown rushing touchdown from quarterback Collin DiGalbo sandwiched in between.

On the second Kutztown drive, Lock Haven got what could’ve been a crucial takeaway. DiGalbo had his pass intercepted at the line of scrimmage by defensive tackle AJ McCloud. On the very next play, LHU sophomore running back Chantz Swartz (10 rush 112 yards, 1 reception 5 yards) broke loose, going on a 67 yard run up to Kutztown eight yard line. Two plays later, the Bald Eagles did what has been a staple of their season to date, they turned it over.

Redshirt-freshman quarterback Ethan Persa (8-14 90 yards 2 interceptions, 11 rush 15 yards 1 fumble) fumbled the ball on second and goal as he tried to make a move on a designed run. This was similar to Persa’s first game action at quarterback in the Clarion game week two. There he led offense 63 yards down the field with LHU down 14-0 late in the first quarter, but had the ball pried away at the Clarion 10.

“We need to be stronger,” Taynor said. “The reality is when everything gets compressed down there, we’re getting hit and coughing the ball up. You gotta be strong enough to hold onto the ball.”

Kutztown capitalized on this Persa turnover, going 93 yards down the field on nine plays for a touchdown with under a minute left in the opening quarter. This score came from the legs of running back Craig Reynolds on a two yard rush. KU was up 13-0 after a missed extra point, and never looked back, as the Golden Bears racked up 490 yards of offense.

“From a defensive standpoint, we gotta do a better job of making some in-game adjustments,” Taynor said. “Give credit to Kutztown, they found a weakness in a drive. They took advantage of it. Which is what you’re supposed to do. We did the same thing on them. We just didn’t finish the drives.”

Persa threw interceptions on each of the next two Lock Haven drives, while Kutztown punched it in on both of their ensuing offensive series. The score was 27-0 Kutztown with 8:54 still remaining in the first half, and Lock Haven’s fate felt just about sealed at that point.

After Kutztown went up by four touchdowns, Taynor made a quarterback change. Redshirt-senior Cameron Tobias (12-18 104 yards 1 interception, 2 rush 5 yards 1 fumble) brought the stability of a veteran signal-caller to the table, but he too was not immune to the turnover plague.

Tobias’ first two drives went into enemy territory before being stalled by a Kutzdown fourth down stop and an LHU punt from just past midfield. KU then completed a four play drive resulting in a DiGalbo pass to Josh Lee for a touchdown with 40 seconds remaining in the first half. The Tobias-led offense got the ball back and two plays in a pick-six ensued, as safety Josh Perry took it away at the Lock Haven 30 and waltzed in to move the score to its final resting place.

“Right now, we’re making a lot of young mistakes,” Taynor said. “That was a freshman quarterback that’s out there. We’re playing our two and three quarterback. You know, those guys gotta step up. The next man’s gotta get up. We gotta grow from it and learn from it.”

In addition to Swartz’s performance, other highlights for the Bald Eagles included the play of redshirt sophomore linebacker Alex Welch. The Hughesville native, tied safety Dontae Mason for a team high 13 tackles. He also had two tackles for loss, forced two fumbles, and recovered one.

Freshman running back Dante Graham (5 rush 17 yards, 2 receptions 38 yards) made good use of extended snaps, taking a screen pass for 32 yards in the third quarter.

Lock Haven now heads back to Hubert Jack Stadium for a homecoming matchup with Bloomsburg (3-4, 2-2 PSAC East). The Bald Eagles will need to execute astronomically better to compete with a Huskies team that received votes in the national rankings heading into the season.

“I give credit to Kutztown,” Taynor said. “Kutztown’s a good team. If we had played a good game against Kutztown today, we may still have been on the wrong side of the ledger at the end of it, but I would like to see us play a good game.”

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