ESU Football’s rally fell two points short as the Warriors fell to the No. 23-ranked Kutztown University Golden Bears 35-33 over Homecoming Weekend on Oct. 6.
The Golden Bears took command of the game early by scoring three touchdowns in the first half.
Redshirt freshman Jake Cirillo made his second start at quarterback for the Warriors.
Cirillo played four possessions, but he was unable to move the offense.
So Cirillo was benched in the second quarter in favor of redshirt sophomore Ben Moser.
Then the offense magically came to life as Moser tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior wide receiver R.J. Sarajian.
Although ESU’s extra point attempt was blocked, the Warriors were now on the scoreboard.
The Warriors rallied around Moser.
On the ensuing possession, ESU blocked a Kutztown field goal attempt and took it 72 yards for a Warrior touchdown.
That made the score a more respectable 21-13 at halftime.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the second half to make the score 28-20 Kutztown.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, Kutztown redshirt junior quarterback Collin DiGalbo rifled a 53-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior Abdul-Hassan Neblett to extend Kutztown’s lead to 35-20.
The stage was now set for a dramatic fourth quarter comeback attempt by the Warriors.
The Warriors answered with a long touchdown pass of their own. Moser’s 41-yard touchdown pass to senior Jylil Reeder made it a one-possession game.
Now ESU just needed a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion to tie the score and send the game into overtime.
After a defensive stop, ESU’s offense went back to work.
The Warriors moved the ball past midfield, but the offense stalled.
Moser and the Warriors now faced a difficult 4th-and-21 from Kutztown’s 38-yard line.
With less than a minute to go, Moser scrambled to his right and launched the football version of a ‘Hail Mary.”
A ‘Hail Mary’ is a long pass into the end zone. In general, the ball is thrown high into the end zone to give the team’s receiver a chance to catch the ball.
It is called a ‘Hail Mary’ because it is sort of a prayer. The ‘Hail Mary’ pass is not likely to be completed for a touchdown because it is more likely to be knocked down by the opposing team’s defenders for an incompletion.
But Moser’s pass went into the end zone where it first bounced off the hands of a Kutztown defender.
Then the ball bounced off of an ESU player and fell toward the ground.
But miraculously, it landed right into the chest of redshirt junior Anthony Guarino for an improbable ESU touchdown.
The score was now 35-33 Kutztown. Now ESU was only two points away from sending the game into overtime.
However, ESU’s offense was penalized twice for ten yards on the two-point conversion attempt.
Starting from the 13-yard line, Moser took the snap and threw a pass toward the left side of the end zone.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Ezequiel Lopez dived for the ball, but Moser’s pass was a bit too long and fell to the ground for an incompletion.
The two-point conversion failed, but the Warriors still had a chance to score again if they could recover the onside kick.
Typically for an onside kick to be successful, the ball is kicked into the ground to get a high bounce and create a jump ball situation.
But ESU’s onside kick stayed on the ground and was recovered by Kutztown.
Unfortunately for the Warrior Faithful, ESU’s fourth quarter rally fell two points short.
After the game, Moser had this to say about the two-point conversion attempt.
“That last play [the two-point conversion] is going to haunt me for awhile,” stated Moser. “We missed the same play on the opposite side of the field.”
“Just a little smash concept. I just overthrew it. Wish I could have it back,” Moser said.
Associate Head Coach Jimmy Terwilliger agreed with Moser.
“I think it was a great play call. We had exactly what we wanted,” stated Terwilliger.
“It was right there, but we just didn’t execute it,” said Terwilliger.
Despite being benched in favor of Moser, Cirillo gave credit to the coaching staff.
“Coach told us everything, and it was everything that we saw in practice,” Cirillo said.
“We just gotta learn from our mistakes and watch film and come back the next week,” stated Cirillo.
Moser was disappointed, but he said, “Obviously, you wish for a better outcome.”
“But I love how my team came together. I love how we fought for four quarters,” stated Moser.
“I think we came together as a family tonight,” Moser said.
Going forward, the coaching staff seems comfortable with having two quarterbacks who are capable of playing at any time.
Head Coach Denny Douds said, “We have a two-headed monster [at quarterback] now.”
Terwilliger said, “We have two really good football quarterbacks.”
“Jake [Cirillo] is six foot four, 225 pounds–is a bull, and he runs the football and can do some unbelievable things,” stated Terwilliger.
“Ben [Moser] is probably about my size, five nine–and he’s got a laser, rocket arm,” Terwilliger said.
“And both those guys have the capability to be great quarterbacks,” stated Terwilliger.
“I think what you saw was the ability for us to be multiple,” Terwilliger said. “So I think you’ll see a healthy dose of both.”
The Warriors (1-6, 0-4) return to the gridiron for a home game against No. 11 West Chester (6-0, 3-0) this Saturday.
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