ERIE, PA - Lake Erie's season opener got off to a great start, but the Storm could not hold onto a two-touchdown lead as Gannon rallied for a 35-34 victory on Thursday night (Aug. 27) in Erie, Pa. The Golden Knights scored with just under a minute to go to pull out the win.
For Lake Erie (0-1), it was a second consecutive close defeat to Gannon (1-0). In last year's opener, it was the Storm who made a second-half run, but ultimately fell short 24-22. Early on, it looked like 2009 would be a different story. Lake Erie took the opening kickoff and drove 82 yards in 13 plays, with sophomore quarterback Sean Bedevelsky (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) scampering in from 18 yards out for the firs touchdown of the year.
After a missed Gannon field goal, Bedevelsky scored from five yards out on the Storm's next possession for a 14-0 lead.
After Zach Boedicker threw a 15-yard pass to Jonathan Jones to cut the deficit to 14-7, the Lake Erie special teams came up with the next score. Junior linebacker Dan Nebraski (Painesville, Ohio/Madison/Edinboro) broke through the middle of the line and blocked Evan Euler's punt. The ball rolled into the end zone and Nebraski pounced on it for the touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
Gannon came right back, again getting within seven on a 36-yard run by Jon Richardson- the first of his three touchdown runs on the night. A one-yard run by senior Tony Howard (Garfield Heights, Ohio/Garfield Heights/Kent State) gave the Storm a 28-14 lead at halftime.
Richardson and Howard traded one-yard touchdown runs late in the third and early in the fourth, respectively, to make the score 34-21 in favor of Lake Erie. Richardson, who rushed for a game-high 129 yards on the night, scored for the third time with 6:36 left in the game to make it a six-point game. The Storm had a chance to ice it, driving to the Gannon 10 yard-line before the drive stalled with just under three minutes to play.
A 27-yard field goal attempt by sophomore Cameron Szatala (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King), filling in for starter Sam Marcotte (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) who was injured earlier on an extra point attempt, was wide right, giving the Knights life.
A 44-yard pass by Boedicker to Jerry Smith on 4th and 15 from the Knights' 15 gave them the ball at the Lake Erie 41. Two plays later, Boedicker hit Jones for 35 yards down to the six.
Two plays later, Boedicker hit Jones on a fade route from two yards out for the go-ahead points. The Storm drove to the Gannon 31, but Tony Poma picked off a Bedevelsky pass at the eight yard line to clinch it. Bedevelsky completed 16-of-27 passes for 146 yards and the interception. He rushed for 45 yards and the two scores.
Howard led the Storm ground game with 94 yards n 19 carries with two touchdowns. Sophomore Dave Romeo (Eastlake, Ohio/Eastlake North) caught six passes for 81 yards to lead the Storm receivers. Lake Erie totaled 246 yards on the ground in the game, averaging 6.3 yards per rush as a team.
For Gannon, Boedicker completed 16-of-22 for 222 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding 66 yards rushing. Jones had four grabs for 61 yards while Levar Goff led the way with five catches for 65 yards.
The Golden Knights outgained Lake Erie 416-392 overall. Sophomore Kevin Chapman (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson) led the Lake Erie defense with nine tackles.
The Storm will host Fairmont State on Saturday, Sept. 5, in the home opener at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.