Football’s successful season culminates in win over Oberlin


By Charlie Magovern

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Allegheny’s 17-14 win at Oberlin Saturday wrapped up an accomplished season despite falling short of an NCAC title. Quarterback TJ Salopek, ’11, led an efficient passing attack while the defense was as stingy as it has been all season in a win that was more lopsided than the score indicates.

“We played 57 minutes really well,” said head coach Mark Matlak. “On defense we were excellent except for the last three minutes of the game, and on the offensive end we squandered three or four red zone attempts that could have put the game out of reach.”

Allegheny held a 17-0 lead going into the last three minutes of the contest, at which point Oberlin put together two consecutive scoring drives against the Gators’ second string defense. The Gator defense’s numbers still show their dominance over the Yeomen, partic-ularly against their running game. Oberlin was only able to run for 21 yards on 26 attempts (1.2 yards per carry) against the Gators, who finished the season at No.1 in the conference against the run,  only giving up 62.3 yards per game and a conference-low five touchdowns.

The team did not reach their preseason objective of an NCAC title, but, as Matlak put it, were “only a few points away from being 9-1,” which left the team with a positive outlook on the year.

“We wanted to have a winning record, which we accomplished. We wanted to be a more balanced offense, which we did. Defensively we wanted to be committed to shutting down the run game, which we did,” said Salopek. “If you look at those things, we accomplished a lot of our goals even though the season didn’t end the way we expected it to.”

Safety Sid Facaros, ’11, pointed out that though they lost one more game this year than they did last, the Gators were, in many respects, more successful in the 2010 campaign.

“We had a better year this year because we were in it every single game,” he said. “Like anybody else, we would’ve wanted to go further, but we are definitely satisfied.”

Matlak gave similar praise to the team.

“The things that I’m really pleased about are the hustle and the effort level of our players,” he said. “Our schedule was tougher than it’s been for awhile, and I felt like we played 10 games really hard and with great effort.” 

Although it seems obvious for a team to want to play hard every game, Salopek, who now holds four school records (total offense, passing yards, attempts and completions), explained that the success this year came from a shift in the team’s mentality from when he first arrived.

“We’ve changed the attitude [in the past two seasons]. We’re more determined, more focused, and are not accepting losses, and I think you can see that in our record the past two years,” he said. “Guys seemed to be a little more committed to the program, which is great to see and I hope that carries on to the younger guys.”

Though the season is over for the team, captains Salopek, Facaros, and Keith Beach, ’11, were selected to play in the Division III Football Senior Classic, which features the top 90 seniors in Division III in a North vs. South format. The event will be held Dec. 3 in Salem, Va.