MU football rallies, but unable to beat Sheperd University

Will Zytnick, Contributing writer

Despite a losing outcome, two attributes, grit and determination, defined the Mercyhurst University Lakers football team in their Sept. 14 game against the Shepherd University Rams. The game ended in a disappointing 22-17 defeat, after the Lakers came up short in a series of fourth down attempts on offense.

The contest began with an unfortunate safety, from which the Rams capitalized early, making the score 2-0.

However, fortunes seemed to change for the Lakers afterwards, when defensive linebacker Jake Tarasovitch intercepted a pass, and the Lakers took a 3-2 lead off Brendan Cole’s 25 yard field goal.

The Rams then countered with the first touchdown of the day, coming in the final minutes of the first quarter to make the score 9-3.

During the game’s first quarter, quarterback Doug Altavilla became the Lakers’ all-time leading passer, throwing overall for 205 yards and running for a touchdown during the game; an amazing accomplishment for our senior quarterback.

In the second quarter, the Lakers’ other quarterback, Michael Lowery made a tremendous play by throwing his first career touchdown pass, which was a 13 yard strike to Austin Hence for a score, giving the Lakers a 9-3 advantage with 2:02 remaining.

However, the Rams would not go quietly; they responded with another touchdown with 1:04 remaining in the first half. The dagger for the Lakers came at 10:10 when the Rams scored another touchdown, bringing the Lakers to their knees. The Lakers would respond with a one yard touchdown from Altavilla, but that was all the Lakers could muster.

The top playmakers in this game were wide receivers Austin Hence and Clay Waldron. Hence led the Lakers’ receivers with six catches for 111 yds and a touchdown. Waldron also contributed to the Lakers’ offensive yardage, adding five catches for 96 yards.

The Lakers’ defense played admirably, standing tall against the Rams. Tarasovitch had the big interception that jumpstarted the Lakers in this game and leading the defense was defensive back Hunter Merritt with 11 tackles.

While the attempted comeback bid against the Rams was unsuccessful, the Laker faithful should hold their heads high, as Head Coach Martie Schaetzle offered some praise for his team while accepting the loss. “Our quarterbacks played extremely well,” Schaetzle said. “Our wide receivers stepped up and made big plays when they needed to be made, but the loss is on me, and I take full responsibility for the loss.”

Coach Schaetzle also discussed what the Lakers need to improve on for their upcoming game with the Bloomsburg University Huskies. “We need better control on the line of scrimmage and our coaching staff needs to call better plays in crucial situations,” Schaetzle said.

The Lakers will look to rebound in their first away game of the season, taking place on Sept. 21 at the Huskies’ Danny Hale Field. Kickoff for the Lakers is at 2 p.m. The Huskies are 1-1 for the season.

Hopefully the Lakers will be fueled with that same grit and determination they showed against the Rams, but this time around, walk away victorious against the Huskies in their house.