Clarion Drops 28-14 Decision to IUP Saturday

williams_icsCLARION, Pa. – #29 ranked Clarion led 14-13 at halftime, and qb Connor Simmons broke the single season passing record, but the IUP running game combined with Clarion’s offense being held to 53 total yards in the second half were too much to overcome as IUP defeated the Golden Eagles 28-14 in the PSAC-West showdown on Saturday afternoon.

(Photo: Delrece Williams)

Senior Day at Clarion’s Memorial Stadium, with 19 Clarion seniors recognized in pre-game ceremonies, saw the golden Eagles drop to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the West, while IUP raised its record to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in the West.

IUP, who rushed for 336 yards in the game, opened the first quarter strong – mounting a 13-0 lead.

Jordan Brown opened the scoring catching a 31-yard td pass from Lenny Williams on fourth down and 5. The PAT failed and IUP led 6-0 with 9:41 left in the first.

The Crimson Hawks made it 13-0 when Shannon Jackson scored on a 1-yard run, capping a 39-yard, four-play drive at 6:46 of the first quarter. The drive was setup when Connor Simmons was intercepted by Kevin Clarke at the Eagle 39.

Clarion came roaring back in the second quarter to take a 14-13 lead.

Facing a third at 23 at its own 35, Simmons hit Kevin Genevro on a crossing route about 12 yards downfield and Genevro raced to the IUP 22 for a 48-yard pickup. On fourth at 10 at the IUP 22, Clarion put running back Delrece Williams in the slot, and ran a post pattern. Simmons lofted a perfect pass to Williams in the endzone for a 22-yard td pass. The PAT was good and Clarion trailed 13-7 at 5:23 of the second.

IUP’s offense went three and out and Clarion got the ball back at its own 30. On third and 1 at the Eagle 39, Simmons hit freshman Khalil Webster again on a crossing route and Webster raced 51-yards to the IUP 10. On third and goal at the 10, Clarion took the lead when Simmons hit a 10-yard look-in pass to Webster on the left side for the score. Phil Esposito’s PAT was good and Clarion led 14-13 with 1:31 remaining before halftime.

IUP drove quickly down field and set up for a Sean Bowling 32-yard field goal attempt, but the kick missed wide left and Clarion led at halftime 14-13.

The Crimson Hawks took the second half kickoff and drove 67 yards to score, with 52 yards coming on the ground. QB Lenny Williams capped the drive scoring on an 8-yard run at 9:17 of the third. The two-point conversion failed, but IUP led 19-14.

IUP placekicker Sean Bowling booted a 37-yard field goal for a 22-14 lead with 5:27 remaining in the third.

Clarion had several chances to come back and try and tie the game, but the eagle offense just couldn’t get the pigskin past midfield.

IUP scored the clincher when Shannon Jackson posted a 17-yard td run with 3:10 left and an IUP 28-14 win.

Clarion played the game without the services of talented wideout Matt Lehman, who left the Cal game last week with an injury and was not able to play this week. QB Connor Simmons completed 14 of 40 passes for 243 yards and 2 td’s. Simmons now has 3,044 passing yards in 2015, and broke Clarion coach Chris Weibel’s record of 2,880 set back in 1996. Simmons has also posted 30 passing td’s this season.

Khalil Webster caught 5 passes for 105 yards and 1 td, while Delrece Williams had 3 catches for 44 yards and 1 score and Kevin Genevro had 2 receptions for 64 yards. Williams also carried 10 times for 44 yards.

IUP generated 336 rushing yards and a total offense of 484 on the day. Shannon Jackson led the running game with 33 carries for 167 yards and 2 td’s, while QB Lenny Williams ran 15 times for 134 yards and 1 score, and completed 11 of 21 aerials for 148 yards and 1 td.

Clarion’s defense saw Brandon Short lead with 12 tackles and 1 tfl, Cory McNamara and Chris Liberto with 10 hits and Andrew Fragale had 8 stops, 2 sacks and 3 tf’ls for the Eagles.

Clarion travels to Slippery Rock next Saturday for a 1pm kickoff.

CLARION NOTES: Clarion’s SID, Rich Herman, was honored by Clarion President Karen Whitney and Vice-Presidents Jim Geiger and Ron Nowaczyk in pre-game ceremonies… Herman,who retired on Friday, came to Clarion in August of 1980 and is in his 36th football season with the Eagles…. Herman’s wife Paula was also part of the ceremony…. Clarion still has a mathematical shot at a share of the West title… SR and IUP have 1 loss in the West – If Clarion could defeat SR and Gannon could defeat IUP, Clarion could gain a share of the PSAC-West crown next week…. Who would represent the West in the State Championship would still have to be determined through tie breakers.

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