It’s Homecoming Weekend for Urbana University, and the Blue Knights are set to host Fairmont State on the gridiron Saturday at UU Stadium. The Mountain East Conference matchup will kick off at noon. Live video and audio coverage will be provided through the UU athletics web site at sports.urbana.edu.
UU (1-3 overall) enters Week 5 still in search of its first home win of the season. In two previous games at UU Stadium, the Blue Knights have been outscored a combined 72-7 and have not scored on offense. The only points came on a fumble recovery two weeks ago versus No. 21 Concord.
However, head coach Tyler Haines finally has the offense clicking on the heels of the group’s best performance of the year in last week’s 28-12 loss at West Liberty.
The Blue Knights racked up a season-high 493 yards, raising their season-average to 319.5 which mirrors Fairmont State (319.7). Running back Ben Sasu broke out for a season-high 105 rushing yards on 19 carries. Despite a pair of turnovers, quarterback Cale Burdyshaw managed to complete a career-high 27 passes to nine different receivers for 214 yards and a touchdown. Three receivers caught at least five passes for 40 yards or more, led by Karim Jones Jr. (7 rec, 68 yards) and Trevon Saunders (4 rec, 84 yards, TD).
At times, UU looked unstoppable as it moved the ball with ease against the Hilltoppers. The Blue Knights engineered five drives of 55 yards or more and held possession of the ball for nearly 40 minutes, but failed to execute in enemy territory.
As cliché as it sounds, finishing drives with points will be the primary focus against the Falcons on Saturday.
Particularly in the first half.
The opening 30 minutes have not gone well for UU in its first four games, especially the second quarter, where the Blue Knights have been outscored a combined 52-0. Third downs and turnovers have been the main problem areas.
UU has only converted five of its 27 (18.5 percent) third-down attempts in the first half on the year. In the second half, UU has gone 11-for-31 (35.5 percent).
Turnover-wise, the Blue Knights have allowed 34 points after opponent takeaways. Five of the team’s nine interceptions have resulted in points scored by the opposition.
The only game an opponent has not scored off a UU turnover resulted in a Blue Knight victory over West Virginia State.
On defense, linebacker D’Gary Wallace continues to lead the MEC in tackles with 51 (12.8/game). Fellow linebackers Bo Keener (41) and Kevin Chapple (31) rank second and eighth, respectively. Chapple also ranks fourth in tackles for loss (10) and ninth in sacks (2.5).
In the secondary, cornerback Chuck Wynn leads the way after recording an interception in the past two games.
SCOUTING FAIRMONT STATE
The Falcons are coached by third-year man Jason Woodman who is 7-16 overall and 6-16 against MEC opponents. FSU enters this week’s matchup 1-2 overall, and is coming off a bye week. The Falcons last took the field on Sept. 17 in a close win over West Liberty, 36-30.
The Falcons average 26.7 points per game and 319.7 yards on offense. Quarterback Cooper Hibbs is completing 59 percent of his passes this season and has thrown for nearly 600 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Wide receiver Fabian Guerra has a touchdown in four straight games dating back to last year.
Defensively, the falcons are led by Marcus Porter who has 32 tackles with one sack and one interception. FSU is allowing 209.0 yards per game on the ground, while yielding 28.7 points allowed per contest.
The two schools will meet for just the third time on Saturday. Fairmont State won last year’s meeting at Duvall-Rosier Field in Fairmont, West Virginia, 35-31, after UU led 28-7 at the half. The Falcons scored 21 unanswered third-quarter points. UU recorded a win in the first-ever meeting two years ago at UU Stadium, 41-5.
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