Allegheny football takes season opener against Thiel

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Sami Mirza/The Campus

Jack Parker, ’22, catches a touchdown pass in the second quarter.

Students, alumni and parents among many other Allegheny fans filled Frank B. Fuhrer field last Saturday as the Gators defeated the Thiel Tomcats 42-14.

Allegheny’s administration has been searching for new ways to bring fans to the stands. Besides promotional events to win a free t-shirt, Allegheny also provided a beer truck for those of the legal drinking age.

The Gators did not disappoint the largest crowd during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a scoreless first quarter from both sides, Allegheny compiled two touchdowns to close out the first half, one touchdown in the third quarter and two more end zone celebrations in the final fifteen minutes of play. Meanwhile, the Tomcats were shutout heading into halftime but managed to pick up a touchdown in each of the last two quarters.

The Gators, who boast a 104-man roster, have 74 first-years and second-years on the team; many of these players have never played a collegiate football game before, as Allegheny’s last football game before Saturday occurred on Nov. 16, 2019. Nevertheless, Jack Johnson, ’24, led the team to victory. The first-string quarterback went 18-27 with 228 passing yards, four touchdown passes and zero interceptions.

“I was a little nervous in the beginning,” Johnson said. “But once we got the first couple drives out of the way, we really put it all together and did a great job.”

Johnson launched his four touchdown passes to Shane Cafardi, ’23, Anthony Steinpreis, ’22, Mark Torsello, ’22, and Jack Parker, ’22. The quartet combined for 14 receptions and 195 yards.

Wide receiver Tre Worship, ’23, who had seven receiving and 55 rushing yards of his own, spoke highly of his offensive contributors. Worship was happy that the offense was able to win their first game of the season in front of the hometown crowd.

“We didn’t want to lose our season opener in front of everybody,” Worship said. “We practiced way too hard (to lose).”

Head Coach Rich Nagy gave a lot of praise to his team in his postgame interview and pointed out how much Worship has improved as a player.

“Watching Tre Worship run today was a lot of fun,” Nagy said. “You know, he’s a tough kid and a hard worker. It showed today and it’s been a couple of years for him to get to this point.”

In addition to Worship, John Ian Duron, ’23, compiled plenty of rushing yards. He had 97 rushing yards in 13 attempts, including a 57-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Nagy’s team has hit the ground running since arriving early to campus and has even scrimmaged against Grove City twice before the season began. Nagy believes the first game of the season was a good litmus test for the Gators after the practices and scrimmages.

“I think anytime that you are able to play somebody else it gives you the advantage to see where (the team) is really at, as opposed to just playing against yourself,” Nagy said.

I think anytime that you are able to play somebody else it gives you the advantage to see where (the team) is really at, as opposed to just playing against yourself.”

— Rich Nagy, Football Head Coach, Allegheny College

Not only have these scrimmages and practices paid off for the offense, but the defense did their part in holding off Allegheny’s future President’s Athletic Conference rivals.

Austin Ferguson, ’23, paced the Gators with seven tackles (three solo, four assisted). The South Granville High School alumnus also recorded a 41-yard interception that resulted in an interception return for a touchdown.

Ferguson praised his fellow defenderssin the team win.“The rest of the defense played their roles,” Ferguson said. “They put me in the right spot to make a play. Without everyone else doing their roles, that wouldn’t have happened.”

Ocean Parodie, ’23, and Maxwell Hammond, ’23, also shined defensively in the blue and gold. The two defensive linemen each contributed with their first collegiate sack. Additionally, second-year Justin Campbell, ’24, registered an interception and six tackles, while Azariah Beaugard, ’24, had an interception and a tackle. Beaugard commented on how he was able to be a part of the team’s victory.

“Man, it felt great,” Beaugard said. “I just want to win for my team, so it felt amazing to make plays for them.”

Allegheny’s special teams also performed well last Saturday. Punter/Kicker Marcus Wolf, ’22, issued five punts, averaging 35.0 yards, while his longest kick racked up a total of 43 yards.

Nagy was pleased with the team’s performance over the weekend but knows that the team still has the opportunity to grow during the remainder of the season.

“For a lot of them, it was their first time starting, and I thought they all did well,” Nagy said. “Sometimes you see the veteran part of them come out and sometimes you see the young part of them come out.”

Nagy added that although Allegheny should enjoy the win, the Gators have continued to train for their first conference matchup of 2021.

“We are excited moving forward,” Nagy said Saturday. “We got about 18 to 19 more hours to enjoy this win and then we got to get ready to play Denison.”

The Gators will be traveling to Ohio to face off against the Big Red at 1 p.m. on Sept. 11. The game can be watched online.