The offense of the Gannon University football team marched down the field on a 10-play drive that went for 75 yards, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run with one minute remaining to earn the Knights their first win of the season over Lake Erie College, 36-33, in Painesville, Ohio, Thursday.
The Knights’ ground attack was led by Jansen Jones, a redshirt senior running back, with 24 carries for 218 yards. Jones caught one pass that went for a 15-yard touchdown. Coach Brad Rzyczycki said Jones has been working very hard in practice, which has made the games less grueling.
“He has developed his body physically in the weight room because he stayed up here this summer and communicated with the strength and conditioning coach to get his body ready for 11 games,” Rzyczycki said.
Sophomore quarterback Liam Nadler threw for almost 400 yards on 25 attempts with a passing accuracy of nearly 60 percent.
Nadler threw two touchdown passes, one to Jones and the other to junior wide receiver Jesstin Hamm, and plunged the ball over the goal line on a one-yard run to win the game. Rzyczycki sa
id the team had worked on closing out games in the offseason.
“We’ve done the two-minute drill 10 times through camp and before this game,” Rzyczycki said, “and I don’t think that we stopped Nadler once.”
Nadler did not throw any interceptions in the contest, which is an improvement from last season when he threw as many touchdown passes as interceptions, 21-21.
On the defensive side of the ball, Gannon allowed 33 points in the contest. Rzyczycki said there were eight defensive players starting for the Knights that had not started for the team previously.
Rzyczycki also added that fans will see the most progress from a defense is between game one and game two.
Senior defensive back Tashawn Sneed said it is challenging for young Knights starting on defense to be comfortable with newfound responsibilities.
“The first game was more of a learning process with new faces on the field,” Sneed said. “Younger guys were trying to adjust to game-time speed.”
Freshman defensive back Mike Zanders and junior defensive back Rico Wright II led the team in tackles with 10 each.
Sophomore defensive lineman Nick Pipitone recorded two sacks in the game for a loss of 12 yards.
The Knights look forward to their first home game of the season at noon Saturday against West Chester University of Pennsylvania at Gannon University Field.
Rondell White, a senior running back for West Chester, set a school record for rushing yards in a single season in 2012, and is challenging the school record for career rushing yards and career all-purpose yardage.
“West Chester has the leading tailback in the country on their team,” Rzyczycki said, “so we’ve got our hands full Saturday.”