Sep. 9—Allegheny football coach Braden Layer earned his first win as a head coach in exciting fashion in Week 1.
Quarterback Jack Johnson found Declan O'Brien for touchdown in overtime to give the Gators a 39-36 win against Presidents' Athletic Conference opponent Waynesburg. The win resulted in some accolades for the Gators and gives the team a 1-0 record heading into today's home opener against Geneva College at 1 p.m. at Frank B. Fuhrer Field.
"I think you're cautiously optimistic. I think that was a big win for us, but I don't think we're in any position to get ahead of our skis," Layer said. "We are taking it as a one-week season throughout the course of the year."
O'Brien earned PAC Offensive Player of the Week honors with his stat line of 14 catches, two touchdowns and 169 yards. The Allegheny offensive line — consisting of Seth Jones, Jack Turner, Hunter Palmisano, Keller Liptrap and Carson Messemer — were selected as D3football.com's Team of the Week.
For Layer, he is looking at the accolades and seeing room for improvement.
"I view what happened Saturday and what's in front of us as glass half full. I think I mentioned it before, but I coach through a positive lens, I'm a positive guy," Layer said. "Saying glass half full still means there is a lot of room for improvement. Pre-snap operations, penalties after the snap, the fact we were penalized 14 times and it could have cost us the game are thing to improve on. Going against a disciplined triple option team, we're in no position to have that happen on Saturday and expect to win."
Geneva suffered a 31-0 setback against nationally ranked Carnegie Mellon in its opening game. The Golden Tornadoes and their triple option offense totaled 204 rushing yards and will prove an interesting challenge for the Gators.
"We had a play or two (Tuesday), I don't know if it was a little but of a hangover, but a play or two where it was a complete stop of practice to talk about what we have going on this week. We're playing an incredibly tough opponent, maybe the most physical team we'll play all year," Layer said. "They run a triple option that is really a one-off from any week of preparation we have. We're not in the position what so ever to take our foot off the gas and I think the second half of Waynesburg was an example of that."
Three players had nine or more carries for Geneva in its opener. Darin Myers rushed 16 times for 19 yards. Josh Syster earned 93 yards on 13 attempts and David Reid III had 26 yards on nine carries. Myers, the backup quarterback, got the start in place of injured Brutus Ogilvie.
To prepare for the triple option, Layer has brought out a secret weapon — Nerf footballs.
"We've brought out Nerf footballs to help with pitching, making sure guys catch them and we stay assignment sound. This is coach speak, but it'll come down to how mentally tough we are. Through 60 plays on offense or 80, are you mentally tough enough to do your job on 100 percent of them? We'll be in a good position with a chance to win if we're in position all 60 or 80 plays," Layer said. "The football helps a bit because we're not an option team so when we work the dive and pitch aspect we get a little more out of practice because there isn't a football on the ground every day or every rep."
Layer has preached toughness since accepting the head coach position several months ago. The Gators' physical toughness was on display in Week 1. Their mental toughness will need to be on point today to limit Geneva's triple option.
"On a day where the temperature was above 90 and the turf reading was above 100, players were going down left and right. We had guys that I felt were tougher at the end of the game," Layer said. "That's what allowed us to beat an opponent with close to double our roster size and come away with a win. I was really really period of the toughness of our group."
Alex McGinley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com.