URBANA, Ohio -- The Urbana University football team hosts the first matchup of back-to-back weekday home games when Lake Erie College comes to town this week. Opening kickoff for the non-conference showdown is slated for 7 p.m. Thursday night at UU Stadium.
Prior to kickoff and throughout Thursday's game, UU will host a POW/MIA chair dedication and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members and military branches recognition. All veterans and active duty, including National Guard and Reservist will receive free admission.
UU (1-1) is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 45-7 loss at Fairmont State last Saturday. The Blue Knights are 2-1 all-time against Lake Erie and undefeated in non-conference games under head coach Tyler Haines.
"We're really looking forward to getting back on track," Haines said. "It'll be a short week of preparation with only two practices, but we're coming back home under the lights and we plan to take care of business by playing our style of football, which is smash-mouth, fast, up-tempo and aggressive, and singing the fight song Thursday night."
Last week, junior running back Isaiah Young (Columbus, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne HS) rushed for a career-high 107 yards and junior wideout Jesse Bray (Springfield, Ohio/Wayne HS) hauled his second touchdown catch in as many games, but the Blue Knights could not sustain any type of momentum in their first road test. The Fighting Falcons (2-0) scored on five of their six drives in the first half while recording a punt return touchdown and blocked UU field goal attempt. FSU put the game on cruise control in the second half.
The Blue Knights provided a few sparks, including a 63-yard connection between quarterback Eddie Stockett and wideout Kahliq Muhammad, and a 31-yard grab by Shemar Hooks. However, four consecutive turnovers following the second quarter touchdown sunk any hope of a comeback.
Protecting the football will be a key point of emphasis
"Last week was a tough loss for us, Fairmont State is a good football team," Haines said. "We had flashes of good things, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We were able to run the ball a little bit and had some big plays down the field. But, they were few and far between. We had a lot of mental mistakes and we are focused on improving them this week."
UU enters the third week of the season averaging 147.5 yards rushing and 333 yards of total offense per contest. The Blue Knights will look to keep a balanced attack against the Storm with more consistent play out of Stockett (371 yds, 3 TD, 4 INT) behind center. The Blue Knights will also need to improve on its red-zone scoring after going just 1 for 5 through two games.
Defensively, the Blue Knights are looking to dial up the pressure in order to get off the field more often. UU has allowed 394 yards pre game to opposing offenses including 169.5 yards on the ground. However, UU has some some success getting to the quarterback with three sacks in two games.
Lake Erie, which has a 4-30 record since 2015, is still rebuilding under second-year head coach Gerald Hazzard. The Storm have only scored one touchdown through two games, coming off a 42-12 conference loss to Malone and shutout loss in the opener to Edinboro, 69-0. Quarterback Javarian Smith leads the offense with 140 passing yards per game and one touchdown, but has already been sacked 11 times. Defensive back Elems Ukwu leads the way with 23 total tackles and one tackle for loss.
Single-game tickets cost $8 for general admission and $6 for ages 12 and under/65 and older. The game will air live on UUBlueKnights.com and simulcast on Campus Nation Sports Network.
// SERIES HISTORY
The Blue Knights hold a 2-1 series lead over the Storm with all three games played in Painesville, Ohio. Thursday night's meeting will be the first contest between the two schools played in Urbana with UU winning the previous two matchups under Coach Haines.
Last year, UU came away with an easy 37-10 win for the largest margin of victory in the series by scoring 30 unanswered points. The Blue Knights blocked a punt, returned a punt for a touchdown and forced a safety. UU recorded a 33-30 triumph in 2015 and Lake Erie won the first-ever meeting in 2009 by a final score of 20-6.
Courtesy of the Urbana University Media Department and posted with their permission.
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