Football Season Begins

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By COLLEEN PEGHER
Sports Editor
[email protected]

After a come-from-behind 17-14 victory in their season opener at Wooster, the football team answered some of the questions they had entering the season.

The Gators have not played Wooster since the 2009 season, when they defeated the Fighting Scots 24-21.
With 1:30 remaining in regulation, first-year starter Ryan Mong, ’15, capped off 14 unanswered points by the Gators with a 28-yard field goal that would seal the victory for the Gators.

“I just rolled the dice with Mong,” said head coach Matlak. “I’m happy for him. He had some trials in the scrimmage, but he bounced back, and that is what life is all about.”

Comebacks were the theme for the Gators last Saturday, after their defense fell behind 14-0 in the first half after two touchdown passes by Wooster quarterback Richard Barnes.

“Our mentality when we were down by 14 was very clear,” said defensive captain John Douglas, ’13. “None of us were ready to give up on the game. I, along with a few other senior leaders, knew that we weren’t out of the game. We just had to score before halftime and it would be a whole new game, and fortunately for us, we did exactly that.”

Douglas recovered a fumble on the Wooster 35-yard line, putting the Gator offense and quarterback Mike Person, ’13, in position to score. Person, who played for injured starter Joe Dawida, ’13, threw a touchdown pass to senior tight end David Bassi to cut the deficit to seven at the half.

After the break, the Gator defense recovered a fumble, leaving them at the Wooster 35-yard line. Person and the offense would answer the call once more, tying the score with a 32-yard connection from Person to receiver Isaac Gittens, ’14.

The Allegheny offense hopes that they can begin Saturday’s season opener against Carnegie Mellon the way that they finished against Wooster, according to offensive captain Conor Sharp, ’13.

“We had a slow start and want to change that,” said Sharp, ’13. “The offense is excited to play CMU this coming weekend.”

The offense will play Saturday’s game without Person, who became only the second quarterback since 2000 to win his first career start for Allegheny. Despite Person’s strong performance at Wooster, Dawida will return on Satuday’s home opener against Carnegie Mellon.

“[Dawida] won the starting job,” Matlak said. “However, we feel like Mike is ready to step in now. Now we have two quarterbacks. We feel good about a situation that was totally up in the air before we started.”

With their quarterback questions answered, the Gators are looking to carry the momentum of Saturday’s victory into their home opener against Carnegie Mellon.

“A come from behind win of that magnitude does wonders for a team’s morale,” Douglas said. “It would have been heartbreaking to fight back like we did only to come up short.”

Coach Matlak stressed the importance of a winning attitude headed into the remainder of the season.
“Things go bad for teams sometimes, and they get that hound dog face, and that sad face doesn’t do anything,” said Matlak. “We really try not to get down about mistakes and keep playing until the whistle blows.”

This Saturday’s game against Carnegie Mellon will be televised live on Fox College Sports for the second year in a row at 3:30 p.m. The Gators have won nine of the last ten meetings with the Tartans, last year defeating them, 33-13.