Homecoming Game ‘White Out’ – Clarion University Football Hosts Mercyhurst Today

simmons_line_icsCLARION, Pa. – After posting a stunning 47-31 upset win over Gannon last Saturday, first year head coach Chris Weibel returns home with his 4-0 squad during ALF week on Saturday, October 3 to take on a tough Mercyhurst team at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2pm for a game that will also be a “White Out” at Memorial with everyone encouraged to wear white to support the Eagles.

(Photo: Connor Simmons, Zack Morris, Jake Heigel)

All the game action between Clarion and Mercyhurst can be heard on the Golden Eagle radio network, which includes WCCR-FM, 92.7 in Clarion and WKQW-FM, 96.3 in Oil City, as well as on the internet at Redzonemedia.com with Mike Kalinowski having the play by play and Joe Lodanosky the color commentary.

“Coming home to play our Homecoming Day game with a 4-0 record and a 1-0 start in the PSAC-West is really exciting,” said Clarion’s Weibel. “They are a very well coached and talented team who had won 10 straight games prior to last week’s loss to IUP. We have to refocus ourselves for this new challenge and be ready to play. We continue to look at each game we play as part of our 2015 season theme of ‘Restoring the Pride’ of Clarion football in 2015.” A 2010 Clarion Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Weibel spent the previous 11 seasons as an assistant coach, and the last two as offensive coordinator.

Clarion is off to a 4-0 start – the first time for that since the 1984 season. The last time Clarion was 5-0 to start the year was in 1983. Clarion stunned Gannon last week in the PSAC-West opener winning 47-31. Gannon was picked to win the West in the coaches pre-season poll, while Clarion was picked 8th. Connor Simmons passed for 350 yards and 4 td’s, with all four td passes going to Matt Lehman who has 9 td’s this season. Delrece Williams ran for 148 yards and 2 td’s in the win. Two weeks ago Clarion jumped out to a 31-6 halftime advantage against Cheyney and rolled to a 59-6 win. The 53-point winning margin was the third highest in golden Eagle football history. A little over two weeks ago Clarion defeated Millersville 27-21 after getting out to a 20-7 halftime lead. The Eagles opened 2015 with an impressive 40-13 win at Lock Haven.

The Golden Eagles were 2-9 overall and 2-7 in the PSAC-West a year ago under former head coach Jay Foster. Weibel has focused the Golden Eagle players, staff and alumni on “changing the culture” at Clarion – and working to restoring its proud football tradition.

LAKERS AN IMPRESSIVE 3-1 UNDER VETERAN COACH MARTY SCHAETZLE

Mercyhurst enters the game on Saturday with a 3-1 overall record and an 0-1 mark in the PSAC-West. The Lakers opened 2015 with wins over Bentley (35-20), West Chester (37-35), Bloomsburg (20-14) and an opening Western Division loss to IUP (35-14). Mercyhurst finished the 2014 season with a 7 game winning streak, and combined with their three wins to start 2015, had a 10-game win streak going before last week’s loss to IUP.

Head coach Marty Schaetzle is in his 14th year leading the Mercyhurst football program. Since joining the PSAC in 2008 Schaetzle has put together a record of 51-32 overall and a division record of 32-20.

MERCYHURST LEADS SERIES 5-2 SINCE 2008
Mercyhurst leads the seven game series between the two schools by a 5-2 margin since beginning its new PSAC-West rivalry in 2008. Last year Clarion lost a tough 28-0 game at Mercyhurst. Two years ago Clarion jumped out to a 20-0 first half lead, then held off a Mercyhurst rally to win 20-13. In 2012 the Golden Eagles traveled to Mercyhurst and lost a hard-fought 22-14 decision. In 2011 Clarion led the game at Memorial Stadium 38-14 in the third quarter, but the Lakers rallied to win 42-38. Mercyhurst won the 2010 game at Tullio Field 38-14, while Clarion won the 2009 contest by a 29-25 margin, rallying from a 25-17 fourth quarter deficit to claim victory. The Lakers won the first game in 2008 by a 41-7 score at Mercyhurst.

CLARION OFFENSE GETTING 445.5 YARDS IN 2015

The Clarion offense is getting 445.5 yards per game (#6 in PSAC), including 133 on the ground (#11 in PSAC) and 312.5 through the air (#4 in PSAC).

SIMMONS STARTS AT QUARTERBACK

Connor Simmons (Jr. New Palestine, In.) is the Eagles starting qb. He has hit on 83 of 129 passes (64.3%) for 1,216 yards and 14 td’s. His 407 passing yards in the opener against LH were fifth most in a single game in Clarion history. In 2014 he started 8 games and completed 129 of 261 passes for 1,808 yards and 13 td’s. He also rushed for 57 yards and 5 td’s. In his career he has completed 212 of 390 passes for 3,024 yards and 27 td’s.

Also ready for action is Darelle Carson (Jr. Pgh-Perry) who has two years of experience as a starting quarterback. He is 2 of 3 passing this season for 34 yards and 1 td. Last season he completed 25 of 73 passes for 276 yards and 1 td, while running for 118 yards. Carson completed 85 of 195 passes for 1,170 yards and 5 td’s in 2013, while also running the pigskin 157 times for 564 yards and 6 td’s.

LEHMAN, DEITRICK, NICHOLAS, MOORER & FRYE LEAD RECEIVERS

Returning to catch passes for the Eagles will be wideouts Matt Lehman (Jr. Lower Burrell/Burrell), Mark Nicholas (Sr. Export/Franklin Regional) and Jaron Moorer (Sr. Rochester, N.Y.), along with Eric Frye (Jr. – Pgh – Perry) and tight end Zach Deitrick (Jr. Upper St. Clair).

Lehman, in his third season, is having an outstanding 2015. He has caught 28 passes for 389 yards and 9 td’s. In 2014 he grabbed 25 passes for 540 yards and 2 td’s and latched onto 13 passes for 159 yards and 1 td in 2013. He has 66 career catches for 1,088 yards and 12 td’s.

Nicholas, a 3-year starter, has collected 8 passes for 42 yards. He had 12 catches for 100 yards and 3 td’s in 2014 and 15 passes for 285 yards and 3 td’s in 2013. He has 42 career catches for 521 yards and 8 td’s.

Moorer has 1 catch for 30 yards and 1 td. He clutched 11 passes for 328 yards and 2 td’s last year, while Frye has 3 catches in 2015 for 32 yards. Last year he collected 10 catches for 135 yards and 1 td, and had 6 receptions for 154 yards and 2 td’s in 2013.

Deitrick has 3 catches for 52 yards. In 2014 he caught 14 passes for 273 yards and 4 td’s.

Also making strong receiving contributions are Kevin Genevro (Jr. St. Marys/ECC), Kyle Evans (Fr. Forte Meade, Md.) and Gage Clark (So. Natrona Hts., Highlands). Genevro is second on the team with 13 grabs for 302 yards and 2 td’s, while Evans, a true freshman, has 9 grabs for 149 yards and 1 td. Clark has 4 catches for 64 yards.

WILLIAMS RETURNS TO KEY RUNNING BACKS IN 2015

Sophomore running back Delrece Williams (Homestead/Steel Valley) leads the team with 77 carries for 341 yards and 3 td’s. He rushed for a career high 148 yards and 2 td’s vs Gannon. Williams toted the pigskin 82 times for 370 yards and 6 td’s, plus caught 6 passes for 8 yards, and returned 26 kickoffs for 658 yards in 2014. A senior at Steel Valley High in the Fall of 2010, Williams set the WPIAL regular season rushing record of 2,149 yards in 9 games. He had a season total of 2,388 yards and a WPIAL leading 34 td’s.

Freshman KaDarrius Campbell (Leonardtown, Md.) has also been sharp with 48 carries for 170 yards and 2 scores. Campbell is a transfer from Saint Francis.

CRESS BROTHERS LEAD OFFENSIVE LINE

The “O” line will be paced by brothers Cameron Cress (Sr. Mars) at center and Shane Cress (Sr. Mars) at left tackle. Cameron has started for two years at center and makes all the line calls up front, while Shane, a three-year letterwinner and returning starter at left tackle, anchors the line. Also back to lead the way up front are Josh Wiskeman (So. Leechburg/Kiski) and Jake Heigel (So. Dubois/Brockway) at right tackle, Rodolfo Ceniceros (So. Pgh – North Allegheny), Zack Morris (Fr. Pgh – Upper St. Clair) and Shane McKillop (So. Freeport) at the guard spots.

9 STARTERS RETURN ON IMPROVED EAGLE DEFENSE

Clarion’s defense made strong improvements in 2014 and the Eagles have continued that trend with 9 starters and 21 lettermen returning in 2015. Clarion is giving up 312 yards of total offense (#1 in PSAC) per game including 101.5 rushing (#3 in PSAC) and 210.5 passing (#4 in PSAC).

BELL, SHORT & FRAGALE LEAD DEFENSIVE FRONT

The Golden Eagles have a strong defensive line returning in 2015, paced by talented returning starters Kwame Bell (Sr. Philadelphia), Brandon Short (Sr. New Brighton) and Andrew Fragale (Sr. Emporium/Cameron County).

Bell, who developed into a dominant lineman a year ago at defensive end, has 7 hits, 1 tfl’, and 2 fumble recoveries this season. Last year he had 55 tackles, 9 qb sacks for -57 and 14 tfl’s for -78 yards. He also caused 3 fumbles and recovered 2 fumbles. Short a three-year letterwinner, has 3 tackles to start the season and has missed 3 games with injury. He posted big numbers at end in 2014. In 8 games he notched 45 hits, 8 sacks for -53 yards, 16 tfl’s for -75 yards, 1 fumble caused, 1 blocked kick and 1 fumble recovery. He was the PSAC-West defensive P.O.W. vs Seton Hill with 11 stops, 6 tfl’s and 2 sacks. Fragale, a three-year starter at noseguard, has 11 hits and 3 sacks with a fumble caused. He recovered a fumble in the endzone against Cheyney for a td. In 2014 he posted 34 tackles, 5 tfl’s, 1 sack, 2 fumbles caused and 1 recovered in 11 games. In 34 career games he has 104 jolts, 30 tfl’s (-75), 13 sacks (-50), 6 fumbles caused, 3 recovered and 1 break-up.

Also ready to have big years up front are 2014 part-time starter Matt Koerper (Jr. Seven Fields/Seneca Valley) at tackle, Tyrone Archie (Fr. Farrell), Jake Tumminello (So. Mars) and Avery Howsare (So. Altoona) at ends and Lucas Nickerson (Sr. Mayville, N.Y.) on the line. Koerper is off to a quality start with 15 tackles, 6 tfl’s, 5 sacks, 2 fumbles caused and 2 recoveries. Archie has burst on the scene with 18 tackles, 9 tfl’s and 8 sacks as a red-shirt freshman. Tumminello has 5 hits and 2 tfl’s, while Howsare has 5 stops and a blocked kick. Nickerson gained valuable playing time and lettered last year.

YAUGER & DAVIS RETURN AS EAGLE LINEBACKERS

The Clarion linebacking corps will be led by the return of veterans seniors Rocco Yauger (Sr. Penn Trafford) and Jared Davis (Sr. Pgh-Allderdice).

Yauger, a 3-year starter, is leading the team with 22 stops, 1 tfl’, 1 fumble caused and a pass break-up. He was second on the team last year with 75 tackles to go with 2 tfl’s. He had 57 stops with 1 tfl and 1 int in 2013, and collected 64 hits, 8 tfl’s and 1 sack as a freshman in 2012. He has career numbers showing 218 tackles, 12 tfl’s, 1 sack and 1 int.

Davis, meanwhile has gained starting experience in each of the last two years. He has 11 hits and 1 fumble recovery this year. In 2014 he had a career high 36 tackles, 4 tfl’s, 1 fumble recovery and 1 break-up in 2014. Jared has 90 career stops and 8 tfl’s with 3 fumble recoveries and a break-up.

Also expecting to see time on the inside will be senior Eddie Kurtz (Pgh – Avonworth), Michael Collier (Jr. Beaver Falls) and Pitt transfer Jacob Craig (Jr. Berlin Brothers Valley). Kurtz has earned two letters at linebacker and on special teams getting 4 tackles this season. He has played in 25 career games with 15 stops and 1 tfl. Collier has 12 stops in 2015. He missed the 2014 season with injury but had a stellar 2013 collecting 36 tackles, 4 tfl’s, an interception and a break-up. Coach Weibel is high on Craig, who played in 2 games at Pitt last year (1 tackle). He posted a 27 yard interception return for a td against Cheyney.

FOUR VETERANS RETURN AT CORNER

Myles Edmonds (So. Odenton, Md.), Tyler Tucker (Sr. Westside, Tx.). Adam Lynch (Jr. Pgh – Brashear) and Kwaku Asamoah (Sr. Indiana) have all started in the secondary and will lead the 2015 Golden Eagles at corner. Edmonds has 16 stops, 4 break-ups and caused a fumble in 2015. He notched 38 tackles, 2 tfl’s and 1 break-up in 2014. Tucker, who has earned 3 letters, has moved from safety to corner. As a freshman in 2012 he had 31 hits, 7 tfl’s and 2 break-ups at corner, with 24 stops and 2 tfl’s in 2013. Lynch, missed the first three games with an injury but returned to play vs Gannon with 4 tackles and a break-up. He posted 35 hits and 5 break-ups last year. The 2-time letterwinner has 68 career stops, 3 int’s and 9 pass break-ups. Asamoah, who has earned 3 letters, has made 11 hits in 2015. He played in 9 games in 2014 with 9 stops and 2 break-ups. He has 51 career tackles and 4 break-ups.

McNAMARA, & LIBERTO ANCHOR AT SAFETY

Maybe the strongest part of the Golden Eagle defense is at the safety position where three-year starters Cory McNamara (Sr. Ontario, N.Y.) and Chris Liberto (Sr. Springdale) await the enemy.

Cory McNamara has notched 8 tackles and a fumble recovery this year. He missed the last two games with an injury and is questionable this week. In 2014 and he ranked fourth on the team in tackles with 64, plus had 3 interceptions, 2 break-ups, 2 tfl’s, 1 fumble caused and recovered and blocked a kick. In 2013 he led the Golden Eagles with 87 tackles and 12 pass break-ups (Ranked #2 in the PSAC. Adding 1 interception and 1 tfl. He had a game high 14 tackles vs Gannon. Cory now has 190 tackles, 14 break-ups, 5 int’s, 4 tfl’s, 2 fumbles recovered and 1 caused.

Liberto has opened strong in 2015 with 20 tackles, 3 tfl’s, 1 int, and 1 break-up. Chris notched 55 hits, 6 tfl’s and 1 fumble recovery last year after two years at running back.

Also seeing plenty of time at the safety spots will be Connor Scott (Jr. Pgh – Upper St. Clair), Colton McKay (So. Moon) and Trevon Gaines (So. Pgh – Brashear). Scott has 9 hits, 1 int and 1 fumble recovery this year. He collected 27 tackles and an interception last year, including a 15-yard int return for a td at Millersville. McKay has 19 tackles and an int this season and notched 25 hits in 2014, while Gaines meanwhile has 6 stops this season.

ESPOSITO, AYERS & WHITE BACK ON SPECIAL TEAMS

The Clarion special teams will be anchored by junior placekicker Phil Esposito (Jr. Brockway), special teams snapper Eric White (Sr. Clearfield) and punter Scott Ayers (Jr. Bethesda, Md.). Esposito is 7 of 8 in field goals this year and 21 of 22 in PAT’s. He had a PAT blocked at LH, which was his first failed conversion of his career. He missed most of 2014 with an injury. In 2013 he was 25 of 25 in PAT’s and 5 of 17 in field goals. In hiscareer he has now made 12 of 28 field goals and 51 of 52 PAT’s. White, Clarion’s snapper for punts and PAT’s/Field Goals, returns to that position again in 2015 for the fourth straight season. Ayers is averaging 40.9 yards per punt in 2015 and getting 6 inside the 20. He averaged 37.5 yards per punt, dropping 12 punts inside the 20 in 2014.

BOYLAN LEADS PASSING OFFENSE FOR LAKERS
The Mercyhurst offense is a strong unit getting 385.5 yards per game (#11 in PSAC) including 81.5 rushing yards (#16 in PSAC)and 304 passing yards (#4 in PSAC)

Senior quarterback Brendan Boylan leads a potent Laker offense. He has completed 80 of 147 passes (54.4%) for 1,202 yards and 11 td’s. He has also rushed for 1 td.

The receiving corps is very impressive with FJ Williams Jaquan Williams the primary targets. FJ Williams, who transferred from Seton Hill, is the #2 receiver in the PSAC with 26 catches for 512 yards and 4 td’s. Jaquan Williams has 12 grabs for 212 yards and 2 td’s. Tight end john Matarazzo has 6 grabs for 66 yards and 3 td’s.

The running game features All-PSAC backs Brandon Brown-Dukes (55 carries, 250 yards, 2 td’s) and Richie Sanders (17 carries, 70 yards). Sanders also has 8 catches for 101 yards and fullback T.J. Latimer has 9 grabs for 88 yards and 1 td.

LAKER DEFENSE YIELDING 376.8 YARDS PER GAME

The Mercyhurst defense is ranked #6 in the PSAC in total defense giving up only 376.8 yards pre game. Opponents are getting 189 rushing yards (#10 in PSAC) and only 187.8 yards per game passing, #3 in the PSAC.

Up front noseguard Ryan Carroll (8 hits, 1 tfl) and ends James Karasek (16 stops, 4 tfl’s) and Benji Abercrombie (10 jolts, 1 tfl) lead the way.

Outside linebackers Joe Dever (34 tackles, 3 tfl’s, 2 int’s) and Jakob Plonski (31 jolts, 4 tfl’s) and middle backer Bruno Natter (30 hits) anchor the middle.

Top tackler Tarique Ellis (39 tackles), Dorian Stevens (25 stops, 2 int’s) and Thomas Higgins (17 jolts) are the Laker safeties, while Tevin Stewart (20 tackles, 2 int’s) and Keith Robinson (13 hits) lead at the corners.

CLARION – MERCYHURST SERIES NOTES: 2014 MERCYHURST 28 CLARION 0: The Lakers jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and defeated Clarion 28-0 … Mercyhurst had a 304-291 yardage advantage … Darelle Carson filed in for injured qb Connor Simmons and completed 9 of 29 for 113 yards … bobby Thomas rushed for 42 yards… Laker QB Brendan Boylan hit on 14 of 25 for 241 yards and 3 td’s …
2013 – CLARION 20 MERCYHURST 13 – Clarion freshman placekicker Phil Esposito kicked 2 field goals (in the first quarter), Travis Day scored on a 1-yard run and freshman qb Darelle Carson hit Eric Frye on a 46-yard td pass to give clarion a 20-0 lead with 4:02 left in the first… Laker rb Brandon Brown-Dukes lit up the scoreboard with a 77-yard td run in the third to make it 20-13 – but the Eagle defense held in the fourth for the Clarion win … Carson was 9 of 18 passing for 209 and 1 td … plus rushed for 85 yards … Brown-Dukes ran for 140 yards and 1 td in the loss… 2012 – Mercyhurst won 22-14 … The Lakers were heavy to Pat Bruner and a 20-yard td pass from Vendemia to Devyn Woods… the Eagles bounced back in the favorites, but Clarion was in the game to the end… Mercyhurst led 13-0 at halftime on 38 yd pass from qb Antony Vendemia third quarter with a 19-yard td pass from Ben Fiscus to Jon Reid to make it 13-7 at 5:27 … Mercyhurst scored 9 points to go ahead 22-7… Clarion rallied for a 1-yard td run by Fiscus with 3:25 left to pull within 22-14 … the Lakers were able to run out the clock… Fiscus completed 14 of 31 passes for 162 yards and 1 td and ran for 31 yards and 1 td… Bobby Thomas had 71 rushing yards on 18 carries … Aaron Barlow 4 catches, 31 yards and Reid 3 grabs for 51 and 1 td … Vendemia hit on 8 of 20 passes for 118 yards and 2 td’s … Brown-Dukes rushed for 157 yards and 1 td … 2011 – Wild game – Clarion led 38-14 in the third quarter when corner Chris Wilson returned an interception 99-yards for a td… Clarion qb Ben Fiscus went out after halftime with an injury … Mercyhurst roared back for a 42-38 win scoring the games final 4 td’s – the last coming on a 1-yard run by Richie Sanders with 32-seconds left in the game … Clarion had 318 yards of offense for the game – but only 34 yards in the second half … Patrick Graham-Murphy led Clarion with 107 rushing yards and 3 td’s … Fiscus completed 7 of 11 passes for 122 yards and rushed for 77 yards on 5 carries before leaving the game … Mercyhurst had 548 yards total offense … Sanders rushed for 125 yards and 3 td’s, with Allen Jones getting 59 yards and 1 td … Anthony Vendemia completed 21 of 35 passes for 352 yards and 2 td’s … Trevor Kennedy caught 10 aerials for 166 yards … Mercyhurst won In 2010 38-14 – even though Clarion jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter … Chris Wilson returned an interception 97 yards for a td and Alfonso Hoggard scored on a 3 yard run … Mercyhurst tied the game 14-14 by halftime and score twice in the third quarter to take control of the game … Clarion had 179 yards of offense, the Lakes had 421 … Travis Rearick passed for 264 yards and 4 td’s … Hoggard rushed for 78 yards and 1 td … Clarion won the 2009 game 29-24 … Clarion outgained Mercyhurst 374-288 … Clarion had 91 yards rushing and 283 passing … Hoggard had a big day running for 88 yards and 2 td’s, along with 2 catches for 53 yards and 1 td … Hoggard scored the game-winner on a 22-yard run with 2:18 left … Mercyhurst led 19-7 entering the 4th quarter… Mamula hit a 31-yard field goal, then Hoggard scored on a 36-yard pass from Tyler Huether … On the ensuing kickoff Mercyhurst’s Andrew Bailey went 93 yards to put the Lakers back in front 25-17… With 5:43 left Huether hit Jacques Robinson on a 25-yard td pass, but the 2-point PAT failed and the Lakers led 25-23… Hoggard scored with 2:18 left and the defense did the rest… Huether 20 of 333 for 283 and 2 td’s .. Robinson caught 7 passes for 96 yards and 1 td … Laker QB Joe Laffey completed 15 of 27 for 185 and 2 td’s … Trevor Kennedy had 4 for 74 yards … 2008 – Mercyhurst won the game 41-7 at Mercyhurst in the series opener .. The Lakers had 418 yards of offense to Clarion’s 168 … Mercyhurst jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead on a 31-yard td run by Ben Jennings and two td passes by Garrett Kensy … Jennings had 137 yards and 1 td on 23 carries … MC rushed for 268 yards … Kensy hit 10 of 17 for 138 yards and 3 td’s … Clarion’s Gino Rometo completed 11 of 19 passes for 100 yards, while Tyler Huether came on in the fourth to complete 2 of 4 passes for 43 yards and 1 td … Foradora and Robinson had 4 catches each, while Hoggard had 3 grabs for 58 yards and 1 score.

Weibel played at Clarion from 1993-98 — In 1995 led Clarion to a 6-4 record completing 159 of 268 passes (59.3%) for 2,017 yards and 14 td’s. In 1996 he led the Eagles to an 11-3 overall record, the PSAC-West title, the NCAA Division II East Region Crown and a berth in the NCAA “Final Four” before losing in the final seconds to Northern Colorado 19-18. Weibel earned NCAA D-II All-America honors completing 208 of 356 passes (58.4%) for 2,880 yards and 32 td’s. Clarion won the Lambert Cup – top team in the East. …Weibel holds all four key career passing records at Clarion including passing attempts (1,065), completions (586), passing yards (7,845) and passing td’s (65).


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