Knights shut out by Lakers, 13-0

ERIE Eisenhower’s defense came up with big stop after big stop in Friday’s season opener against Mercyhurst Prep. Unfortunately for the Knights, the Mercyhurst Prep defense came up with its share of big plays as well.

Andrew Montefiore intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble, Jesse Luketa returned another interception for a touchdown, and Ren Rivers added a fumble recovery of his own to help the Lakers go on to win by a final score of 13-0 at the Vet.

All four of Eisenhower’s drives in the first half ended via turnover, and the Knights were unable to capitalize on two trips to the red zone in the second half.

“They’re not acceptable mistakes any time,” said Ike coach Jim Penley. “We as coaches have to do a better job. At the end of the day, we just have to do better. We’ll have our guys better prepared this week. I know Youngsville has had trouble with numbers, but the reality is that they come in and play us hard every single game. If we make the same mistakes we did tonight we’ll lose to them too. We have to be sharper.”

Things looked promising for the Knights early after a 19-play opening drive by Mercyhurst Prep was stopped on a goal-line stand. That momentum was short lived, however, as Luketa’s ensuing pick-six and a

Josh Bowers extra point gave the Lakers a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Much of the offensive success for both teams came in the running game Mercyhurst Prep sophomore Zack Helsley ran 30 times for 188 yards while teammate Khalil Barnes picked up 91 yards on 14 touches. Bryon Braswell led the Knights with 52 yards on 11 carries and Spencer Head scrambled six times for 38 yards.

Ike’s best scoring chance came when Adam Pascuzzi ran the ball inside the five midway through the fourth quarter. A false start call backed the Knights up on third-and-goal and two consecutive pass plays fell incomplete for a turnover on downs. A previous trip inside the 20 in the third quarter was also stopped on fourth down by the Laker defense.

The Eisenhower defense didn’t allow a score until Barnes broke free for a 27-yard touchdown run with just over eight minutes left in the third. A large portion of Mercyhurst Prep’s team rushing yards came late in the game when the Lakers sent Barnes in to run the wildcat and keep the clock moving.

“They scored one (offensive) touchdown, so I can’t fault how my defense played,” Penley said. “They had the pick-six and one touchdown, and they picked up some yards rushing doing what we knew they were going to do run the ball. We forced some turnovers on defense, but if we can’t turn around and make the plays on offense it doesn’t matter much.”

Eisenhower’s Jonah Samuelson came up with an interception in the second quarter and Jaydon Hayes saved a potential touchdown when he picked a deep pass from Mercyhurst Prep quarterback Connor Byers at the goal line just before half. Byers completed four passes on the day all to Luketa for a total of 24 yards.

Defensively, Luketa helped lead an aggressive Mercyhurst Prep unit that held Eisenhower scoreless through four quarters. Head had a 14-yard gain and Braswell added a run of 13 yards for Ike’s longest plays of the night.

The Knights will look to get back in the win column next week when they host county rival Youngsville for the annual Backyard Brawl.

Scoring Summary

Eisenhower 0 0 0 0 0

Mercyhurst Prep 0 7 6 0 13

2nd Quarter

M – Jesse Luketa 17-yard interception return, 8:12 (Josh Bowers kick)

3rd Quarter

M – Khalil Barnes 27-yard run, 9:18 (kick blocked)

Individual Stats

Rushing: M – Zack Helsley 30-188, Luketa 1-(-1), Damon Wilcott 1-0,

Barnes 14-91 1TD, Connor Byers 4-(-16), Andrew Montefiore 1-(-10); E –

Bryon Braswell 11-51, Adam Pascuzzi 13-30, Spencer Head 6-38, Jonah

Samuelson 2-3.

Passing: M – Byers 4/9-24 2INT; E – S. Head 1/11-5 4INT.

Receiving: M – Luketa 4-24; E – Spencer Gray 1-5.