Dragons improve to 2-0 with 24-20 win at Mercyhurst

Charles Holland has signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Charles Holland has signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Tiffin University (2-0) came back from two deficits, took a fourth quarter lead, and held on defensively to pull out a 24-20 win on the road at Mercyhurst.

The Dragons and the Lakers battled back and forth throughout the game, with the tone being set as the Lakers took their first play from scrimmage and busted out for a 63 yard run to take a 7-0 lead after just 20 seconds of play.

The Dragons wasted no time in replying, taking their first possession and driving 76 yards in 10 plays and capping it off with a 12 yard TD strike from Nick Watson to Victor Talley to tie the score at 7-7.

After Tiffin missed a 27 yard field goal early in the second quarter, Mercyhurst responded by driving 80 yards on 12 plays for a 15 yard touchdown pass at the 4:42 mark to retake the lead 14-7.

The Dragons again responded just before the half, putting together an impressive 85 yard drive that ate up 4:11 of the clock. The Dragons connected on four consecutive third-and-long plays to keep the drive going, finishing it off with a big 28 yard touchdown strike from Watson to Charles Holland on 3rd and 10 that tied the score 14-14.

The Lakers attempted a 50 yard field goal as time ran out in the half but came up short. 

The second half became more of a defensive struggle, with TU finally taking the lead at 7:19 of the third quarter when A.J. Nickoli booted a 32 yard field goal after a 63 yard drive as TU went ahead 17-14.

The Lakers drove down inside the 10 yard line early in the fourth quarter but the Dragons defense held firm, keeping them out of the end zone and allowing a 22 yard field goal to knot the score at 17-17.

The Dragons again counterpunched in a big way on their next possession. Tylan Rice broke through for a huge 50 yard touchdown scamper that TU ahead to stay 24-17 with 12:30 to play.

Now it was the time for the Dragons defense to once again shine. The Lakers drove down on their next possession to the TU 1 yard line, but TU again did not let them in the end zone, forcing a 22 yard field goal with 7:22 left to lead 24-20.

TU executed flawless clock management when it got the ball back, moving the ball only 23 but eating up 6:13 on the clock in the process. Mercyhust finally got the ball back with 1:04 left but they could get no further than their own 49 yard line. A last chance throw fell incomplete as the Dragons claimed the victory.

Overall the aerial attack was strong again for TU. Watson passed for 301 yards on 25 of 35 completions with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Holland hauled in 9 catches for 161 yards, while Victor Talley also had 5 catches for 68 yards. Rice rushed for 107 yards on 17 carries, as TU outgained Mercyhurst 431-342.

Defensively Daigien Morgan led the squad with 9 tackles, while Jacob Mertus had 8 stops and Delan Wynn added 6 more. The TU defense held the Lakers to just 5 for 12 on third downs.