Football falls short of comeback on Community Day

Elijah Roberson, 13, son of Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Heather Moore Roberson, high-fives David Babb, ’25, as the team runs out of the locker room for the second half.

On a sizzling Saturday, most people would prefer to linger indoors and relax, but not when the first football game of the season is on. The crowd was roaring with excitement and the cheerleaders were giving it their all, but it was in vain when the Allegheny Gators lost to the Union Dutchmen 27-42 at the Frank B. Fuhrer Field.
“It’s nice to see that they didn’t quit, especially in the second half, even with all the freshmen starting this semester,” said Steven G. Folmar, the color analyst for Allegheny’s sports broadcasts.
Despite the loss, the Gators still buzzed with action. On the first drive of the game, Garrett Paxton, ’25, managed to score a field goal for the Gators.
For the following two quarters, the Dutchmen scored frequently, despite a valiant effort from the Gator defense. Several times, the Gators reached the backfield and piled up tackles for a loss, and one interception was achieved by Maxwell Hammond, ’23.
During the second quarter, the Gator defense struggled as the Dutchmen scored multiple times, shaking off and avoiding tacklers on their way to the end zone.
“We played inconsistently,” Head Coach Rich Nagy said. By the end of the first half, the Gators had fallen well behind on the scoreboard, heading to the locker room facing a 21-6 deficit.
The defense came to life during the second half. Shane Cafardi, ’23, made plenty of big plays throughout the game, including a tackle for loss on the Dutchmen’s Joseph Ferreira, and the trend was followed by other members of the defense. However, it was not enough to prevent another score from the Dutchmen, as they added to their total and widened the gap for the Gators.
On their next offensive possession, the Dutchmen marched 70 yards down the field on five plays, yet again punching in another score. As the lead kept growing, the Gators chances of making a comeback became slimmer. That only seemed to fuel the Gators further, as on the next offensive series, Declan O’Brien, ’24, caught a 17-yard pass from quarterback Jack Johnson, ’24, and found the endzone for the teams first touchdown of the season.
However, the Dutchmen fired right back with a touchdown of their own to open the fourth quarter, as Nicholas Dunneman, ’26, punched another one across the goal line on a 21-yard catch and run. Hammond recorded his interception for the Gators during the fourth quarter, and had a big return, as the defensive lineman ran it back to the Dutchmen 15-yard line. The crowd and his teammates went ballistic as Hammond delivered a much-needed blow to a high-scoring Union offense.
“It didn’t go the way we expected,” Hammond said. “It’s the first game, just gotta get better. We left a lot out on the field — I think it just comes down to game plan and we only had one game footage from Union.”
Following the interception, the fourth quarter clock slowly ticked down, and the Gators made one more statement with a touchdown from Hunter Lohr, ’23, on a 25-yard pass to the end zone from Trevor Brncic, ’25.
The Gators gained a sudden surge of teamwork and cooperation while rapidly approaching the end of the game. Declan O’Brien, ’24, caught a pass, and even though they fell out of bounds a moment later thanks to the dogpile that tackled him, they pushed it to 24 yards.
By then, there were only 50 seconds left on the clock. The Gator quarterback was sacked by the Dutchmen, but that hardly held the Gators back. With only 16 seconds left, Brncic managed to get another touchdown, raising the score to 25-42. Following that, the Gators pulled through by scoring another two points.
In the end, the Gators put up a fight, but the Union Dutchmen grossly overpowered the home team.
“Obviously, there’s some things we need to improve on,” said linebacker Travis Dear, ’24. “The defense needs to trust their eyes more and play better as a team. We’ll make the changes that we need to.”
Head Coach Rich Nagy shared the same notion.
“(We) just gotta get better,” Nagy said. “Both offense and defense need better work. We didn’t get the results we were looking for.”
The Gators get their next opportunity to play under the stadium lights on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Greenville Snyder-Stone Stadium against the Thiel Tomcats.