Football Remains Optimistic Despite Losses

By Colleen Pegher, Sports Editor

Oct. 25, 2013

The Gators dropped to 0-7 on the season as they were defeated by the Oberlin Yeomen, 24-0 on Saturday afternoon. The loss marks the third time the Gators have been shutout this season.

Turnovers plagued the Gators throughout the afternoon, as they finished the day with five, the first a fumble on the Oberlin 20-yard line that halted a Gator drive.

“Obviously anytime you turn the ball over you hurt yourself,” said lineman Sumner Beal, ’14. “If you are able to hold on to the football you give yourself a chance to be successful, but when you give the ball away you make it difficult on yourself.”

Allegheny was quickly given another opportunity when an Oberlin fumble led to a recovery by Ronnie Borne, ’15, inside the Gator five-yard line. After two first-down conversions, the Gators were forced to punt.

Following the switch in possession, the Yeomen coughed up the ball for a second time. The fumble was forced out by Cody Stolar, ’16, and picked up by Pat Jameson, ’14. The Gators failed to put points on the board as the first quarter ended in a scoreless tie.

The Gator defense showed promise early in the game, holding the Yeomen to only seven points, that score a result of 15-play, 72-yard drive by Oberlin. In the second half, Oberlin pulled ahead, posting 17 points in the second half.

“We all know that there is no such thing as a perfect defense,” said safety Raysean Glenn, ’15. “We all have had our fair share of mistakes, however I feel like we have a great defensive unit.”

After receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, Jon Nigro, ’17, threw an interception near midfield, leading to a Yeomen field goal with 11:09 remaining in the third.

As a rookie, this season has been a learning process for the young quarterback.

“It’s been a great experience to be a part of this hard working team and I’ve had a lot of fun with the coaches and players,” Nigro said.  “The speed of the game is a lot faster than high school and it took some time getting used to it.”

Following an Oberlin touchdown run, the Gators had a 41-yard kickoff return by Johnathan Opet, ’16, placing them at their own 45. The drive would stall after two incompletions, but the Gators dug into their playbook with a pass from punter Chris Bourne, ’16, to Brad Burkley, ’14, for a 26-yard gain.

A pass interference call on the Yeomen put the Gators on the Oberlin 15-yard line, but the drive ended in another Nigro interception in the end zone.

“What I need to improve on would be being able to go through my “reads” quicker and a big part of that is recognizing the defense,” Nigro said. “The coaches preach that there is a process that players go through when beginning to compete at this level and right now I’m in that process.”

Head Coach Mark Matlak has seen an improvement in Nigro’s play as the season has progressed.

“The improvement I think Jon has made to our football team is that he has the ability to throw the ball,” Matlak said. “We’ve spent the last two years not having the ability to throw the ball very well. He gives us hope. If he can develop, I think we’ll be much improved.”

On their final drive, Nigro completed three straight passes to Lucas Morton, ’16, but another interception, this time returned for a touchdown, ended the game with 25 seconds remaining.

A bright spot for the Gator offense, first-year tight end John McFarland pulled in seven receptions for 40-yards on the day.

“It feels great to know I am making a positive contribution to the team so early,” McFarland said. “But like the coaches keep telling me, with all the games I already have under my belt, I can’t think of myself as just a freshman anymore.”

Nigro went 19-32 on completions for the day and threw for 133 yards. The Gator run game struggled, as they were outgained 215-85 yards on the ground.

“As has been the case the last few weeks we’re not too far away from being a successful operation offensively,” Beal said. “Once we can correct our mistakes, we will be good.”

The Gators will depart for Indiana Friday afternoon to face off against the DePauw Tigers Saturday at 1 p.m.