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Turnovers help BU football to 27-10 win over Gannon on Saturday: Huskies now 2-1 after dropping season opener

Jake McDonnell, Sports Editor

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     The Bloomsburg University football team put up 27 points on Saturday afternoon with nearly half of them coming from turnovers as the Huskies defeated the visiting Golden Knights of Gannon University, 27-10, in front of 4,189 fans at Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium. The Parents and Family Weekend crowd saw the Huskies extend their win streak to two and record their first home victory of the 2017 season. Bloomsburg improved to 2-1 on the young season and moved to 4-2 lifetime against Gannon. With the loss, the Golden Knights dropped to 1-2 on the season.

    The Huskies scored 13 of their 27 points off four Gannon turnovers – two fumbles and two interceptions. Both of the interceptions Bloomsburg recorded – the first coming in the first quarter by redshirt junior Marquis Seamon (7-yard return) and the latter in the fourth quarter from senior Eric Schwartz ((22-yard return) – led to field goals of 26 and 36 yards, respectively, by redshirt junior Ryan Abbott. The picks were also the first two of the season for the Huskies. The other seven points off turnovers came in the second quarter when redshirt sophomore Alex Annan forced a fumble while tackling Gannon sophomore running back Isaiah Young. Redshirt junior Chris Gary picked up the loose football at Bloomsburg’s 45-yard line and ran it back 55 yards for the Huskies’ second touchdown of the game. The score put Bloomsburg up 17-3 with 5:10 remaining in the first half.

      The touchdown marks the first career collegiate score for Gary, a 2016 Don Hansen Second Team All-American and First Team All-PSAC East selection.

     “I saw the ball on the ground and was going to run for it,” Gary said after the game. “There were no whistles blown, so after I picked it up I just kept on going.”

     Gannon received the opening kickoff and put together a solid drive of 11 plays for 40 yards but failed to convert a fourth-down attempt at Bloomsburg’s 34-yard line. On Bloomsburg’s second play of its first possession of the game, redshirt senior Chris Palubinsky found redshirt sophomore Jay Popson for a 57-yard strike to set up a first-and-goal from the Gannon six-yard line. Redshirt sophomore Qmac Quiteh scored on the ensuing play for his second rushing touchdown of the season. The three-play, 66-yard drive put Bloomsburg up 7-0 with just over eight-and-a-half minutes left in the first quarter.

     The Huskies extended their lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter on Abbott’s 26-yard field goal, but Gannon answered with an eight-play, 59-yard drive that also ended with a field goal as Karch Holland booted one through the uprights from 30 yards out. The points were set up by a big 47-yard catch-and-run from Jimmy Keefe to Tyler Palka. The Golden Knights drove all the way to the Bloomsburg six-yard line but were limited to the field goal when Schwartz tallied his first collegiate sack on a third-down play.

     The three points left the Golden Knights down 10-3 with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half, but that deficit reached 14 when Gary scored just a few minutes later.

      Both teams headed to the locker room with the Huskies ahead 17-3. Palubinsky was efficient throwing the football in the opening 30 minutes as he was 8-of-9 for 122 yards. Popson hauled in two of those passes for 74 yards while redshirt sophomore Michael Allen had four catches for 38 yards.
The third quarter was sloppy for both teams as the Huskies and the Golden Knights combined for two turnovers, four punts, and a missed 47-yard field goal from Holland. One of those turnovers thwarted potential Gannon points as senior Osman Toure forced a fumble at the Bloomsburg three-yard line which was recovered by redshirt junior Nate Monroe. It was Monroe’s third fumble recovery in as many games as he leads the conference in that department.

      The Golden Knights did put some points on the board off a Bloomsburg turnover later in the quarter. Romell Jones picked off Palubinsky and ran it back 28 yards, setting Gannon up at Bloomsburg’s 11-yard line. Two plays later, the Golden Knights were in the endzone with the points coming on a six-yard run by Marc Jones. Holland added the extra point to cut the Huskies’ lead to 17-10 with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.

     But, the Huskies’ defense stiffened in the fourth quarter. On the Golden Knights’ first drive of the final period, Gary and redshirt junior Jake Klinger sacked Keefe on back-to-back plays to force a Gannon punt. The Bloomsburg offense used that momentum to its advantage on the ensuing drive as the Huskies drove 64 yards on five plays and found paydirt when Palubinsky connected with Allen for a 41-yard touchdown reception. The score, Allen’s second of the season, put the Huskies up 24-10 with just 7:18 remaining. Gannon drove to the Bloomsburg 39-yard line on its next possession but a personal foul penalty brought it back into Golden Knights’ territory. Two plays later, Schwartz picked Keefe off for his first interception since Nov. 8, 2014, and returned it to the Gannon 41-yard line and the Huskies were in business again.

     Bloomsburg put together, arguably, the drive of the game. The possession, which started with 5:32 left, resulted in three more points when Abbott connected on a 36-yard field goal to give the Huskies a 27-10 advantage. Most importantly, the drive consumed 4:42 as the Huskies gained only 22 yards but ran off 11 plays and put the game out of reach.

    Gannon held the slimmest of margins in total offense, 321-319, but the Huskies were plus-three in the turnover battle.

     Palubinsky completed 14-of-21 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Keefe, meanwhile, completed 15-of-27 for 169 yards but was picked off twice and was sacked five times. On the ground, Quiteh found some tough yardage as he led the Huskies with 67 rushing yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Redshirt sophomore Alex Gooden  rushed for 56 yards on 14 carries. Jones continued his torrid start to the season for Gannon as the PSAC’s leading rusher totaled 173 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

     For the third time this season, Popson led Bloomsburg receivers with 98 receiving yards on four receptions. Allen finished with a team-high five receptions for 79 yards, including his 41-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. For Gannon, Palka caught six passes for 90 yards.

     On defense, Schwartz led Bloomsburg defenders. He notched nine tackles (seven solo), a sack, and an interception. Redshirt senior Scott Beltz registered eight tackles (three solo), 1.5 tackles for a loss, and a sack. Klinger, Gary, and redshirt senior Marquez Norford  collected the Huskies’ other sacks on the afternoon. Seamon and Schwartz had the interceptions while Seamon also broke up a team-high two passes.

     “The win gave us a lot of confidence,” Seamon said after the win. “We need to play with the same intensity and the same fire every single week.”
The Huskies return home next Saturday, September 23, to open divisional play against the Wolves of Cheyney University. Start time from Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Bloomsburg has won the last 27 meetings between the two schools and is 46-9-1 lifetime against the Wolves. Cheyney suffered a 65-16 loss at fifth-ranked IUP on Saturday and will come into the contest with a 1-2 record on the season.

 

BU running back Qmac Quiteh runs to the right during Saturday’s 27-10  win over Gannon. Quiteh leads the Huskies in rushing this season with 259 yards and two touchdowns.

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Turnovers help BU football to 27-10 win over Gannon on Saturday: Huskies now 2-1 after dropping season opener