Until last weekend, De’Antwan “Rocket” Williams didn’t know if he’d ever play college football again, so it’s not like he’s going to complain about getting only seven carries on Saturday.
“I’m a team player, so whatever the coaches think is best, I’m going to go with,” Williams said Saturday after helping IUP dominate Cheyney, 49-0, at Miller Stadium. “I’m not a selfish player. Whoever gets the touches gets the touches.”
Williams had only eight touches: seven carries and one reception. But he made the most of them by scoring three touchdowns, on runs in the first quarter as the Crimson Hawks (No. 8 in the AFCA Top 25) rolled to the easy win.
That’s quite an effort considering it wasn’t until about four hours before last Saturday’s kickoff at Southern Connecticut State that Williams was given clearance to play. Williams, a former transfer from Rutgers, petitioned the NCAA for another season of eligibility but the decision came much later than Williams and the IUP coaching staff had hoped, leaving his season in limbo until about 9 a.m. last Saturday.
“It was like my life was in someone else’s hands for the summer,” said Williams, a native of Woodbridge, Va. “It was a big relief to get another year. I didn’t sleep for months.”
Williams set up the Crimson Hawks’ first touchdown when he took a screen pass from quarterback Mike Box and bolted 61 yards before being brought down near the goal line.
He ended up with a productive day, with 92 yards of offense and three touchdowns. That’s not bad considering Williams faced an uncertain future just eight days ago.
“I’m just glad (the NCAA) told me yes,” he said.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Mike Charmo’s week began with him thinking he’d be back at his familiar right guard spot after playing center for most of last week’s win at Southern Connecticut State because of a hand injury to starting center Matt Sasson.
IUP head coach Curt Cignetti had decided to move Nick Carnicella to center from left guard, shift Byron Dovales from left tackle to left guard, and put Bruce Atkins at left tackle, Jorge Vicioso at right tackle and Charmo back at right guard. Then about midway through the week, Cignetti changed his mind and left Dovales at left tackle and Carnicella at left guard, and put Charmo at center, Vicioso at right guard and Atkins at right tackle.
“I wanted to keep the left side intact because you’ve got two guys there who have played a lot of football,” Cignetti said. “Bruce has played right tackle, Charmo has played center and Jorge has played guard before. So that’s why we went that way.”
All the moving around didn’t matter much, as the IUP offense used quick strikes and big plays to take a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and roll to an easy win.
“Our philosophy on the O-line is to just go in and grind,” Charmo said. “Today, we didn’t have to grind but we still had to play as hard as we could and impose ourselves on them. They came out pretty hard, but it seemed like they lost the wind in their sails pretty quick.”
Charmo said he thought he played well enough to warrant the move to center, a position he had never played before last Saturday.
“I think I did all right,” he said. “There’s always something I can improve on. … No one knew Sasson would go down with an injury, but I was ready if they needed me to do it. But this week, I was more prepared.”
FAST LANE: Charmo wasn’t the only one filling in for an injured player.
On the IUP defense, linebacker Dorian Lane started in place of Alexander Berdahl, who also suffered a hand injury at Southern Connecticut State. Lane, who was the backup to Carl Fleming at weak side linebacker, took over for Berdahl at middle linebacker and finished with seven tackles against Cheyney.
“I’d say mediocre,” Lane said, when asked to assess his play. “I made some mistakes out there. I didn’t read my keys sometimes like the coaches wanted me to. But I think I still helped out the defense today.”
Lane said he got help on the sideline from Berdahl, who acted as an assistant coach throughout the game.
“Every time I came out, I was talking to Alex, asking him what he was seeing,” Lane said. “He really helped me out today.”
WEAVER AILING: Backup quarterback Logan Weaver, a graduate of Indiana High School, did not dress for the game and his status for next week is uncertain because of an abdominal injury.
Weaver began the season penciled in as the No. 2 quarterback, but Steve Franco played mop-up duty against Cheyney by taking over the offense in the fourth quarter. Cignetti said he did not know when Weaver would be cleared to play.
“I’ve been pleased with his progress, but he’s just had some unfortunate injuries in the spring and in the fall,” Cignetti said. “Every time I get excited about him, he gets hurt.”
NOTES: Defensive end Michael Larrow had the Crimson Hawks’ first sack of the season. Reserve lineman Jeff Palmer had the second, late in the fourth quarter. After recording 35 sacks in 14 games last year, IUP did not have one this season until Larrow’s in the third quarter. … Redshirt freshman linebacker Allen Holman led IUP with 10 total tackles. … James Price, a transfer from Akron, came up with the ball on the game’s only turnover, a fumble in the first quarter. … Starting cornerback Jerrell McFadden did not play because of a minor knee injury. Mike Meriwether filled in for him.