IUP FOOTBALL: IUP 49, CHEYNEY 0 -- Crimson Hawks take care of business vs. lowly Wolves
That’s more like it.
A week after a lackluster, yet gutsy, win in their season opener, the No. 8 IUP Crimson Hawks didn’t toy around with Cheyney on Saturday, scoring early and often and rolling to an easy 49-0 win over the Wolves in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference crossover game at George P. Miller Stadium.
It was the kind of performance the Crimson Hawks had hoped for last week at Southern Connecticut State. But injuries to key positions made things difficult and IUP had to scratch out a 30-20 win.
But there were no such struggles against the lowly Wolves, who have never beaten IUP (2-0) in six tries. They haven’t come close actually: IUP has outscored Cheyney 321-26 in the all-time series.
“After last week, it was important to show what we can do and to show our potential,” said defensive end Michael Larrow, who helped lead an IUP defense that limited the Wolves to 189 total yards on 69 plays, an average of just 2.7 yards per play.
Although the Hawks’ defense was on the field a lot — for 38 of the game’s 60 minutes — Cheyney never mounted much of an offensive threat. The Wolves reached the red zone once and turned the ball over on downs the one time they moved inside IUP’s 20-yard line.
Conversely, the IUP offense was efficient and used quick strikes to jump out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. The Crimson Hawks finished with a balanced 383 total yards and did not turn the ball over.
“We took care of business today, and I was pleased,” said IUP head coach Curt Cignetti. “I think we took a step forward as a team.”
Quarterback Mike Box had another sparkling effort, completing 10 of 15 attempts for 210 yards and three touchdowns. The scores went to Terrill Barnes (56 yards), Tyler Dummermuth (17) and Sean McVay (11).
In two games, Box has completed 28 of 47 attempts for 506 yards, five touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 180.9. Barnes finished the day with five catches for 106 yards and a score, giving him an impressive 13 catches for 268 yards this year.
The vaunted IUP ground attack, which rushed for at least 200 yards in 13 of its past 15 games dating to last season, totaled 173 on only 32 rushes, low numbers because the Crimson Hawks were so efficient that their scoring drives were quick and didn’t use up much of the clock.
“We weren’t really out there that much. I mean, I think we had two plays in the third quarter,” said senior lineman Mike Charmo, who moved from right guard to center to replace Matt Sasson, who is out a few more weeks with a broken hand. “But we hit a lot of big plays. It’s not that we didn’t establish the run game, but we just didn’t have the opportunity to do it. There were quick hits and big runs.”
Senior tailback De’Antwan Williams, who rushed for 1,325 yards last season, had a relatively light day. He had seven carries for 31 yards, but scored three touchdowns — all in the first quarter — before giving way to the backups. He set up IUP’s first touchdown with a 61-yard catch on a screen pass that led to his 1-yard scoring run just two minutes into the game.
Williams praised the offensive line, which went through a lineup change in the middle of the week and ended up not missing a beat. Box wasn’t sacked, and there were plenty of running lanes through the Cheyney defense. Charmo played center, with Nick Carnicella and Jorge Vicioso at guard and Bruce Atkins and Byron Dovales at tackle.
“They did a great job,” Williams said. “We had a little adversity to overcome last week … but they got it together today and I’m proud of them.”
Backup running back Erik Finklea complemented Williams with a touchdown run of his own in the first quarter, and the remaining three scores came through the air.
It was an efficient effort that showed just how much IUP has improved in the week since it opened the season at Southern Connecticut State.
“It was very important for us to show our dominance today,” said linebacker Dorian Lane. “Cheyney was good, though. … But I feel like we improved a lot, and this is going to help us out in the future.”
IUP visits Seton Hill (0-2), which got pummeled by East Stroudsburg, 70-7, on Saturday. After that, the Crimson Hawks begin a tough stretch that includes games against California and Slippery Rock, both of which are 2-0.
After Saturday’s win, Cignetti is feeling better about the road ahead.
“I was pleased with our effort and intensity,” Cignetti said. “I thought we played with passion. I think we came together and took a step forward, but we’ve got to continue to take steps forward.”