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The Campus

The student news site of Allegheny College

The Campus

The student news site of Allegheny College

The Campus

Senior sendoff results in Gator win

Ed Mailliard
Declan O’Brien, ’24, makes the catch on a 42-yard touchdown throw from Jack Johnson, ’24, to break the all-time single-season record for receiving yards.

Senior Day fireworks were in full effect on Saturday, Oct. 28, as the Allegheny Gators football team snapped a four-game skid after defeating the Thiel Tomcats 27-3 during their final home game.
First-year Head Coach Braden Layer gave praise to the veteran class. As they only had three years of playing time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Layer had to make sure every moment counted this season. He stated they have set the work ethic standard for generations to come.

“It’s a strong senior class,” Layer said. “I would hope, focusing on the seniors, they have the ability at some point to look back and take immense pride in the fact that they laid the foundation.”

The highlight of the game came from star wide-out Declan O’Brien, ’24, who broke the all-time single-season record for receiving yards on a 42-yard touchdown catch in the first half. O’Brien leaped Alex Victor, ’20, who registered 1,037 yards as the previous best in 2017.

“I had to take an inside release so all I was thinking about was leaning back outside to avoid safety help,” O’Brien said. “After that, I don’t remember much besides being in the endzone. As far as breaking the record, I was definitely happy it was on a play that impacted the game, and put us up by another touchdown. I would take a win over any individual accomplishment, but it was great that both were able to happen at the same time. I was also glad I was able to do it at home and on Senior Day.”

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O’Brien has been deemed as a playmaker by his teammates and coaches. He is playing like Randy Moss, using speed to blow past defenders and solidifying himself as one of the best receivers in all of Division III football.

The long-standing rivalry between these two teams was anything but lost last weekend. Both teams came in with a chip on their shoulder and choice words to share with their conference foes.
Allegheny tight end Austin Williams, ’25, reached out to catch a ball in the second quarter when he took a big knock to the head that was later deemed a targeting penalty.

Williams was down on the Allegheny sideline for several minutes, but he later came back into the game. He exited again after getting banged up on another play, though the team’s second-leading receiver says he is ready for action.

“After I was able to see the hit for myself, I just thought it was a physical football play,” Williams said. “Obviously it was frustrating, no competitor wants to get taken out of the game but sometimes it’s just part of it. It’s a physical game. Since the game I’ve definitely spent some time in the training room trying to recover. I’m feeling really good going into this weekend and looking forward to the game against Case Western.”

Leading the Gators through the air was Jack Johnson, ’24. On 21 completions, Johnson threw for 204 yards and a trio of touchdowns. While it was a bittersweet moment for Johnson to finish the last home game of his career, looking back there are many memories he can relive forever.

Johnson currently ranks third in program history with 6,452 career passing yards. After finishing with 247 yards during the Grove City matchup on Oct. 14, he passed Bubba Smith, ’04, on the ladder.

Earlier in the season, he was pulled aside while heading into the locker room after his pregame warmup by another man he is chasing down, TJ Salopek, ’11. The program’s all-time leader in total career passing yards had some words of encouragement for Johnson.

“I immediately knew who he was,” Johnson said. “It was a quick conversation. He pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, I’m TJ, I like what you’re doing and keep up the good work.’ It was a really cool moment.”

Kyrie Miller, ’24, also produced in the win, and has been for the past several weeks. Trevon Worship, ’24, and Miller have been Allegheny’s tag team duo all season. After Worship went down with a season-ending injury, Miller was asked to take on a bigger role dating to a few games back.

Since getting more touches and being more consistently involved in the offense, he has delivered on turning the one-two punch of the tandem backs into a deadly right-hook one-hit killer.
Stringing together consistency has been an emphasis of the team for Layer. While the Gators have shown big signs of improvement, being more competitive and staying in games against top-25 opponents, the record is what it is — and there have been too many mistakes for them to end up as a true threat to win the conference.

“I think everyone is getting a little taste of what we could be, and what this future could look like for Allegheny football,” Layer said. “But I’m not sure we’ve put a full four quarters together yet this year.”

That is not to say they cannot get to that marker in a couple of years. Layer said that part of stringing together the consistency they are looking for comes in the way they practice. It all starts with taking care of the fundamentals. The bludgeoning the Gators gave the Tomcats on Saturday all came in the first two quarters. They were shutout in the second half offensively.

While it was a feel good victory for the team, there is more work to be done. The Gators will head to Cleveland to match wits and lock horns with the Spartans of Case Western Reserve in the last game of the 2023 regular season. Pending an Allegheny win, it would be their first four-win season since 2019. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4.

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About the Contributor
Kyle Chandler
Kyle Chandler, Sports Editor
Kyle Chandler is a former collegiate athlete. After being a member of the Allegheny baseball team,  Kyle still loves to be around the game and has picked up sports journalism and broadcasting as a profession. He is the play-by-play broadcaster for Allegheny sports. He recently completed an internship as the radio play-by-play broadcaster with the Lake Erie Crushers. Following in the family footsteps, Kyle is the grandson of the late Nev Chandler, who broadcasted for the Cleveland Browns, then Indians and Cavaliers, and has inspired the kid to get into the business. Although Nev has passed away, Kyle's cousin, John Chandler, who is a sports anchor at NBC New York, has taken him under his wing to show him the works. Kyle aspires to become a sports play-by-play broadcaster and is looking for a job in the Minor Leagues upon graduating college.
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