Story and photo courtesy of Mercyhurst Athletics
ERIE, Pa. - The Mercyhurst University football team extended its winning streak to five straight on Saturday afternoon, hanging on for a hard-fought 19-10 victory over the Bald Eagles of Lock Haven University. Mercyhurst improved to 5-1 overall and remained perfect in the PSAC West with a 3-0 record. The Bald Eagles dropped to 0-6 overall and 0-3 in the PSAC West.
The Lakers' five-game winning streak is now tied for the third-longest streak in program history and is the longest streak since the program-record seven straight wins during the 2010 PSAC Championship season. Meanwhile, Lock Haven's losing streak reached 48 consecutive games, the longest active streak in college football and an NCAA Division II record.
Mercyhurst would come up with one of its best drives of the season to put away any thoughts of Lock Haven ending its losing streak on Saturday. With the Bald Eagles trailing 13-10 with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Laker offense would put together a 15-play, 70-yard drive that took 8:13 off the clock, capped off by a three-yard touchdown pass by redshirt junior Anthony Vendemia to junior fullback Jeff Groene. Lock Haven, who had used all of its timeouts on the long Laker drive, got into Mercyhurst territory on its final drive, but ran out of time, and the Lakers escaped with the nine-point win.
Junior running back Allen Jones II rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown to lead the Lakers on Saturday. With the output, Jones now has 1,009 rushing yards in his career to become the 12th player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in his career. He trails Darryl Lewis (1984-87) by 20 yards for 11th on the all-time list.
Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Brandon Brown-Dukes was contained for most of the afternoon by the Bald Eagle defense. He came into the contest 12th in the country in rushing yards per game, but was held to just 39 yards on 18 carries.
Lock Haven started the scoring with 1:53 left in the first quarter on a 36-yard field goal by Noah Heimer, capping off a 12-play, 78-yard drive. The Lakers' would answer with a 32-yard field goal from junior placekicker Steven Wakefield with 8:21 left in the first half to tie the game at 3-3.
Mercyhurst would go ahead for good with 36 seconds remaining in the opening 30 minutes when Jones plunged into the endzone from four yards out. Wakefield added the point after for a 10-3 Laker lead at halftime.
The Lakers got the ball to start the second half and would score on their opening possession. Wakefield booted a 38-yard field goal with 9:15 left in the third quarter to give Mercyhurst a 13-3 advantage. Wakefield was a perfect 2-for-2 on the afternoon in field goal attempts and is now 5-for-5 on the season.
Lock Haven would keep its upset bid alive when James Kratzer found Ian Smith in the endzone from five yards out, and, after the extra point, trailed Mercyhurst by only three points with 10:07 left in the contest, setting up Mercyhurst's long scoring drive to put away the game.
Mercyhurst was limited to a season-low 245 yards of total offense, but was able to hold Lock Haven's offense to just 219 yards on the day. Mercyhurst outgained Lock Haven 170-81 on the ground, but had just 75 yards passing from Vendemia on the afternoon.
Jones led all rushers with 111 yards and a touchdown. Brown-Dukes had 39 yards, while redshirt freshman Devyn Woods and Vendemia combined for the other 20 yards on the ground. Brandon Brader led Lock Haven with 43 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Vendemia started the afternoon 2-for-9, but completed eight of his last 11 passes to finish 10-for-20 for just 75 yards and a touchdown. Jarrett Kratzer was 13-of-20 for Lock Haven for 138 yards and a touchdown.
Senior L.J. Stevens led the Lakers with seven tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a sack. Senior Linnell Robinson had five stops and broke up two passes. Lock Haven's James Goins and George Christas led all tacklers with 11 stops apiece.
Mercyhurst will put its winning streak on the line next Saturday with a trip to crosstown rival Gannon University nex Saturday. The Lakers are 9-5-1 lifetime against the Golden Knights but have lost the last two meetings. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.