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Blue Knights Bounce Back Against Pioneers with stellar defensive effort

A week after falling on a late touchdown on the road at #15 Shepherd University, the Blue Knight football team rebounded at home on a picturesque Saturday afternoon. Urbana improved to 2-0 at UU Stadium thanks to a razor-thin 12-9 win over the visiting Pioneers from Glenville State College.

Urbana’s 12 points are the fewest in a win during Head Coach David Taynor’s six-year reign. Urbana entered the contest averaging 31 points and 499 yards of offense per game. The Pioneers held the home team to just 222 offensive yards, but the Blue Knight defense stepped up and helped secure the victory. Urbana held the Pioneers to just 17 first downs and 233 total yards of offense. Glenville State’s only score in the first half came after Urbana muffed a fair catch on a punt. The ball rolled into the end zone where Pioneer Demetrius Quarles fell on it to give the visitors an early 6-0 lead.

Urbana tied the game at 6-6 later in the first quarter on a David Hill 2-yard TD plunge. The Blue Knights grabbed their first lead with 1:32 remaining in the half on a D.J. Mendenhall 8-yard pass to Alvin Busbee. The Pioneers intercepted Mendenhall’s 2-point try as the home team took a 12-6 lead into the break.

The Pioneers opened the second half with a 13-play, 55-yard drive that resulted in a 30-yard Ryan Cullen field goal. Neither team would score over the final 25 minutes of game clock as Urbana’s defense made the 12-9 advantage hold up for the win.

Both offenses were plagued by turnovers. Mendenhall and GSC quarterback Sean Steele each threw 3 interceptions. The Pioneers had 4 drives to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter. The first ended in a fumble recovered by Urbana’s Terrell Hudson. The second ended in a missed 32-yard field goal, and the third and final drives ended in interceptions by Blue Knights Reggie Gaither and D’Gary Wallace. Wallace turned in another impressive performance from his linebacker position. The sophomore led both squads with 13 tackles, including 8 solo stops, a sack and the game-ending interception. Redshirt freshman Kevin Chapple also spearheaded a young Blue Knight defense, finishing with 10 tackles, including 3 for a loss and 1.5 sacks. In all, Urbana made 11 stops behind GSC’s line of scrimmage, including 4 sacks. 

Offensively, Urbana struggled against a stout Pioneer squad. Mendenhall connected on less than 50% of his pass attempts, finishing with a season-low 176 yards passing. He was sacked 4 times, resulting in -35 yards, and he threw a career-high 3 picks. On the bright side, Mendenhall averaged 45.2 yards per punt, including a pair of kicks of 60 yards or more.

Urbana’s all-time leading receiver, senior Joe Webb, was held to just 1 catch for 15 yards. Nate Wilburn-Ogletree caught a team-high 6 balls for 44 yards. Hill only mustered 56 yards on the ground on 19 carries. Joe Saffold combined for 151 yards on 5 carries, 3 catches and 3 kick returns.

Urbana improves to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play. Glenville State slips to 1-3 and 1-2 in the MEC. Next Saturday, the Blue Knights travels to West Virginia State University for another conference showdown. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at WVSU’s Lakin Field.

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