Golden Eagles down Griffins in Homecoming game
CLARION The Clarion University's special teams unit proved to be the difference as the Golden Eagles bounced back from a pair of recent losses with a 42-16 win over Seton Hill in the annual Homecoming game at Clarion University's Memorial Stadium Oct. 4.
With neither offense gaining any traction in the first quarter, it was the Golden Eagle special teams unit that provided some of the biggest plays of the day, buying time for the offense to find its footing and put an end to the threat by the Griffins. Clarion scored two special teams touchdowns on Saturday and nearly added more on a blocked extra point in the second quarter. That eventually translated to three offensive touchdowns in the second half, including a pair of impressive receiving touchdowns by Kahliq Muhammad and a one-yard touchdown run by Ross Greece.
Once the offense did get going in the second half, it was hard to stop. Clarion outscored Seton Hill 28-7 in the second half, with the Griffins' touchdown coming with less than three minutes remaining and the result no longer a question.
Mylique McGriff rushed his way up the record books with 108 yards on 20 carries, pushing him past 2,000 career rushing yards and into eighth place on the all-time list. He did the former with his second carry of the first quarter, and the latter in the second half when he surpassed Damien Henry and Ben Fiscus thanks to a 38-yard run. Muhammad lit it up with seven grabs for 94 yards and three touchdowns, including a few acrobatic, contested catches in the end zone.
The Golden Eagle pass rush hurried quarterback Ryan Barabe 13 times and sacking him twice. Chris Gildea had a team-high seven tackles and also an interception, while Vaughn Wallace finished with three tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a team-high six pressures.
But the special teams units provided the biggest plays of the day, and Rayonte Campbell was in on the first two highlights from that facet. Less than three minutes into the second quarter, Joe Kucenski blocked Hunter Miller's punt attempt deep in Seton Hill territory. Campbell scooped up the ball and dove into the end zone for a score, with James Metzgar's extra point making it 7-0.
It didn't take long for the Griffins to respond, with Barabe hitting John Makell for a 58-yard touchdown on the first play of the ensuing drive. But Saif Khan made his impact felt on the extra point attempt with a block, and Campbell picked the ball up and very nearly returned it for a score. The Golden Eagles responded with a scoring pass of their own, with Muhammad making a combat catch in the end zone off a pass from Clemens to make it 14-9 at the halftime break.
Campbell rounded out his day with an interception, picking off Barabe on the Griffins' final drive of the game.
Terrell Ford broke the game open in the third quarter, and it only took him 12 seconds to do it. A short kickoff by Seton Hill to open the third quarter went to Ford at the Clarion 10, and the receiver accelerated through the line for a 90-yard return touchdown. It was the first Golden Eagle kickoff return for a touchdown since Patrick Graham-Murphy took one to the house against Shippensburg in the 2011 season.
The floodgates opened after that, with Muhammad adding his second touchdown grab and Greece punching it in from one yard out to increase the lead to 35-9. Muhammad finished off the Clarion scoring late in the fourth quarter, making a leaping grab in the back of the end zone to make the Golden Eagles' score 42-9. The Griffins scored with 2:54 left in the game to set the final score.