By Tom Bone
For The Register-Herald
The Concord University football team is on what is likely to be its last trip to Greensburg, Pa., this weekend for a conference matchup today at noon with the Griffins of Seton Hill University.
Seton Hill’s football fortunes are where Concord’s were not so long ago. The Griffins (0-6) have lost 16 of their last 17 football games.
Concord (3-3) has beaten Seton Hill for three straight years. Prior to the Mountain Lions’ resurgence, however, the Griffins won two straight over a win-starved Concord program. The two teams will compete in different conferences starting next fall.
The Griffins, who rely on the pass on offense, will run up against the Mountain Lions’ pass defense, ranked 13th in all of NCAA Division II. Seton Hill’s Andrew Jackson made his first start of the season last Saturday and threw for 240 yards in a 30-13 loss to Charleston.
Mountain Lions senior safety Kevin Elliott has intercepted passes in two straight games. With 65 tackles, junior linebacker Jake Lilly is 19th in the nation and second in the conference in that category. He has 8 1/2 tackles for loss and was named this week’s conference defensive player of the week.
Overall, Concord is 25th nationally in points allowed, giving up 18.83 points per game, while Seton Hill has scored 17 points or fewer in five of its six games. The Griffins are allowing their opponents 401 yards per game on average, second-worst in the WVIAC.
The Pennsylvania team is effective in getting to the quarterback, however, with 16 sacks already this season — the majority by linebacker Tyler Zimmer, who leads the conference in sacks (10), tackles (69) and tackles for a loss (13 1/2). Defensive end Orlando Irby has four sacks.
Concord head coach Garin Justice said, “A lot of the reason they have the (defensive) stats they do, is they’re on the field a lot.”
“You watch the film of them on defense, and you don’t understand why they’re 0-6. They look like a much better football team than that. And that’s scary for us, because we’re going into their home field, into that environment, and we’ve got to come out with a win.”
Justice said, “Offensively, they’ve got some skill guys that can do some damage. Up front, that’s their weakness. I think they only have seven offensive linemen on the team right now, (and) our strength is defensively, especially in the defensive line.”
Concord defensive end Silas Agyeman, who strained a knee ligament in the second half of last Saturday’s homecoming win, still ranks third in WVIAC and seventh in the nation with 12 1/2 tackles for a loss. His participation will be “a game-time decision,” Justice said.
On offense for Concord, freshman halfback Calvinaugh Jones averaged 6.2 yards per carry last Saturday. Fullback Ben Nester carried the ball seven times, achieving three first downs and two touchdowns. He was the first Mountain Lion running back to run for two touchdowns in a game since 2010.
Freshman quarterback Albert Rose has completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 705 yards, three touchdowns and seven interceptions. Ansel Ponder is tops in receiving yards with 390. Randall Hawkins leads the WVIAC in receptions per game, averaging 7 1/2.
Justice, referring to his team’s record, said, “We’ve not accomplished a lot in the big scheme of things. The positive is we were 3-3 at this time last year and we did a great job of finishing the season.
“So, hopefully we can build on what we did last year and finish out the season 8-3 or 7-4. That would be nice for our guys to rebound and do that.”
“Anytime you go on the road, in conference, you’ve got to go make plays and win the football game. We’ve got to do an excellent job of taking care of the football, and bringing our energy to the sideline. ... If our guys bring their own energy, we’ll be just fine.”
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