The Mercyhurst defense had to come up with a late stop to preserve a two-point lead, as the Lakers defeated Gannon 24-22 for a second straight Niagara Cup victory.

Gannon after trailing most of the day had a chance in the final two minutes to march down the field to attempt a game-winning field goal to overcome an 11 point deficit. On the final drive though, Mercyhurst Chris Peluso came up with a sack on second down. Then on fourth down, Jimmy Keefe missed on a toss to Dontae Owens to keep the drive alive, to securing the victory for Mercyhurst.

"First off, coach Kodo [David Kotulski] made a good call from the booth and we executed well," said Mercyhurst defensive back Jake Tarasovitch. "They [Gannon] wanted to run verticals and then a dig underneath it. Luckily Tarique Ellis took away the dig and then he [Jimmy Keefe] had to make a harder throw to my guy coming up the seam and i just broke on the ball."

Gannon had the opportunity to drive for the game winner because of the offense scoring 12 points in the second half to bring it to a two point game. However, two missed Gannon two-point try turned out to be the difference.

Mercyhurst after opening the scoring on a Garret Owens 42-yard run trailed in the later part of the second half. That's when the Lakers turned to quarterback Doug Altavilla and the passing attack to move ahead for good.

"We knew they were young in the secondary and our receivers are older and experienced and they have been in these type of situations before," said Altavilla. "The o-line gave me a lot of time in the backfield passing, tight ends and running backs cutting guys down and giving me enough time to make those throws."

Altavilla found Brad Novak for a 42-yard touchdown to put Mercyhurst up 13-10 after a missed extra point.

He added a rushing touchdown of his own right before the half to give Mercyhurst a 21-10 lead heading into the locker rooms.

Marcus Jones was the key once again for Gannon rushing for 154 yards, most of which came in the second half along with the gannon back's only touchdown of the afternoon to pull the score within 6 at 22-16.

Mark Shafer's 22-yard field goal turns out to be the difference in this contest. He sailed it through with 12 minutes remaining in the game to put Mercyhurst back up by six.

Gannon marched down the field once more in the fourth quarter and it was capped off by a Keefe to Dontae Owens score to make it 24-22. However, like in the previous drive, a two-point try failed and the last drive stalled to end the game and give Mercyhurst its third straight win.

"I think we're definitely starting to gain some identity," said Mercyhurst defensive back Dontae Redwood. "It seems like our offense is starting to click as well. Our defense is hitting our stride and getting better every day."

Mercyhurst quarterback Doug Altavilla finished the day16-26 for 305 yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one passing. Laker running back Garrett Owens rushed for 89 yards and the opening score in the win.

"In high school I knew about the Gann-Mercyhurst rivalry," said Owens. "Now being here and starting today was a blessing. I think nothing feels better than beating Gannon."

Gannon running back Marcus Jones followed up his record-breaking performance with 154 yards on the ground and a touchdown. 

Mercyhurst [3-2, 2-0] looks to make it four straight wins next week when they host Slippery Rock. Gannon [1-4, 0-2 heads home for a meeting with Borodin next Saturday.