Clarion University Football took another step in the right direction this past Thursday, defeating Millersville 27-21 in the home opener at Memorial Stadium.
Clarion once again used strong defense and a balanced offensive attack to overcome Millersville.
Clarion only needed three plays on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead.
Quarterback Connor Simmons found junior wide receiver Kevin Genevro on a 67-yard touchdown pass to give the Golden Eagles an early 7-0 lead.
Clarion drove into Millersville territory on its next two possessions, but had to settle for field goals both times.
Kicker Phil Esposito connected from 23 and 25 yards to give Clarion an early 13-0 lead in the first quarter.
Clarion continued to roll on offense early in the second quarter.
Williams caught passes of 14 and 16 yards to keep the Golden Eagles moving.
The 48-yard drive was capped when Simmons hit wide receiver Matt Lehman on a six-yard touchdown pass.
Millersville, however, cut into Clarion’s 20-0 lead late in the second quarter.
Millersville quarterback Blake Cahill found Phil Overton on a two-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 20-7.
The third quarter didn’t have much flash, until Delrece Williams scored on a one yard touchdown run to extend Clarion’s lead 27-7.
Millersville then went to back quarterback J.J. Paige, who threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Overton late in the third to cut the deficit to 27-14.
The fourth quarter featured Millersville adding another touchdown, this time when Paige found Sean Quarterman on a nine yard strike.
With the score now 27-21, Millersville went for an onside kick and successfully recovered.
The Golden Eagle defense, however, came up huge.
Junior defensive tackle Matt Koerper sacked Paige and forced a fumble that senior linebacker Jared Davis recovered.
Koerper also recovered two fumbles earlier in the game.
Clarion then ran the clock down to end the game with a final score of 27-21 in favor of the Golden Eagles.
Simmons threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns, while Williams paced the way on the ground with 84 yards and a touchdown.
Genevro had three catches for 85 yards and a touchdown on the day.
Defensively, Colton McKay led the way with seven tackles, while Chris Liberto had six hits and two tackles for loss.
One aspect of this year’s team is the aerial attack that has been featured early in the season.
Simmons was asked what key changes were made transitioning from last year’s passing attack to this year.
He said, “Coach Weibel brought in a new offensive coordinator who has given the offense a complete new look. Also, the offense as a whole has been working extremely hard this offseason. Our offensive guys push each other to make us better. All around we have a better, more confident attitude on this side of the ball this year.”
Clarion returns to action Sept. 19, when it hosts Cheyney at 1 p.m.