The weather may have been miserable at Memorial Stadium for homecoming this past Saturday, but the Clarion Golden Eagles football team was anything but that.
The Golden Eagles defeated the Mercyhurst Lakers 41-27 and secured their fifth-consecutive win of the season.
The win marks the first time since 1983 that the Golden Eagles have started the season 5-0 and puts them in first place in the PSAC-West division with a record of 2-0.
Clarion is clicking on all cylinders so far this season, and Head Coach Chris Weibel maintains that it is their hard work and perseverance that has propelled them this far.
Weibel said, “Just from talking on the first day of camp… we talked about believing and working hard and staying together as a family and just fighting for each other.” said Weibel. “It’s just putting in the work and getting results. I just remind them on a daily basis of how hard they have to work to get what they want.”
And they certainly had to work hard against a strong Mercyhurst offense, as the Golden Eagles and Lakers exchanged blows throughout the match.
Clarion took the early lead from the first drive when quarterback Connor Simmons’ pass connected to running back Delrece Williams for a touchdown.
Kicker Phil Esposito’s extra point was good and put Clarion over Mercyhurst 7-0.
A fumble off the Lakers’ first snap led to Clarion regaining the ball, which would result in Esposito extending Clarion’s lead to 10-0 off a 30-yard field goal.
The rest of the half would follow in similar fashion, with both teams trading touchdowns.
Clarion would go up 17-7 with a Simmons pass to wide receiver Kevin Genevro in the end zone, only to have that lead nullified 17-14 four minutes later.
The Golden Eagles would end the half with a touchdown rush by Simmons and would go into half-time 24-14.
Mercyhurst would come back strong to open the second half, scoring on their first drive and making the score 24-21.
Clarion proved equally resilient, however, and reached the end zone the next play, with Simmons increasing the Clarion lead 31-21 with a quarterback sneak.
Simmons would end the day with 431 total passing yards, the third most in a single game in Clarion history, while also collecting his second 400+ passing yard game this season.
Clarion would go on to win by a score of 41-27.
Through it all, Weibel said he knew that his team’s work ethic would ultimately secure them the victory.
“We knew we had to keep fighting and playing hard and not giving up,” said Weibel. “The guys rose to the occasion and made plays all day. The defense showed up when we needed it to and the offense scored when we needed it to and that will put us over going forward.”
Clarion will face Edinboro this Saturday at 2 p.m. at Sox Harrison Stadium.