Jeannette grad Craft emerging as a top offensive threat for St. Vincent
As the 2014 football season was about to kick off, St. Vincent College hadn't won a game in more than two years. Jeannette High School graduate Shavonta Craft — a newcomer to the St. Vincent program — wasn't worried.
“I just want to be able to help the team get wins,” Craft, a sophomore running back, said at the time. “The wins haven't come in a while, but they will be coming.”
Craft's words have proven prophetic. After a 31-14 victory over Grove City Saturday, suddenly St. Vincent has won two in a row. And Craft, a transfer from West Liberty, is a major reason why.
Craft propelled the Bearcats to Saturday's victory, gaining 199 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
The Bearcats were clinging to a 10-7 lead at halftime before Craft helped St. Vincent take firm control in the second half.
Craft raced 39-yards for a touchdown on St. Vincent's first offensive play of the third quarter and the team never looked back.
Despite missing the first game of the season while awaiting eligibility clearance because of his transfer, Craft leads St. Vincent with 354 yards on 63 carries, a 5.6 yards-per-carry average and five touchdowns.
He is also second on the team with 14 receptions for 123 yards.
“It's very exciting knowing you have a good chance of getting on the field each game,” said Craft, who was largely a backup last year at West Liberty.
“But it's not just me. Every team has players who contribute on offense, defense, special teams, scout teams … everyone has a role on the team, and we all work together to put together our game plan each week.”
Another Jeannette product, senior corner back Darius Brown, also had a big game in Saturday's win.
Returning to the lineup after missing a week with a concussion, Brown continued his role as a “shut down” corner — playing a part in the fact that Grove City completed just 18 of 34 passes. Brown also had two tackles and returned a punt for 12 yards.
St. Vincent is now 2-2 overall this season and 2-0 in the NCAA Division III Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC). The team hits the road Saturday for a game against PAC foe Thiel (1-3, 0-2).
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m., and the game will be broadcast at athletics.stvincent.edu.
Big margin for MSU, Cox
Michigan State racked up another lopsided victory — this one a 56-14 drubbing of Wyoming — to improve to 3-1 overall. Jeannette grad Demetrious Cox, a redshirt sophomore safety, had two tackles in the win; he has nine tackles on the season.
In their three wins, the Spartans have outscored their opposition 174-35. Still, the team dropped two spots to No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings.
The Spartans' schedule gets tougher this week when they open play in the Division I Big Ten Conference in a home game with No. 19 Nebraska (5-0, 1-1).
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ABC.
IUP, Batts take big win
IUP won its second straight game Saturday when the Crimson Hawks roughed up Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) foe Mercyhurst 41-7.
Jeannette graduate Jordan Batts, a redshirt junior defensive end, had a season-high four tackles in the win, including three solo stops and half of a sack.
Batts now has seven tackles on the season, including 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
IUP is now 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the PSAC. The team hits to road to take on Edinboro (0-4, 0-3) Saturday.
Kickoff is at 2 p.m. and the game will be broadcast at iupathletics.com.
Another win for Mount Union
Mount Union and Jeannette native Pat Mahoney continued their run as a Division III buzz saw by routing Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) foe Marietta 63-7 on Saturday.
Mahoney, a Greensburg Central Catholic graduate, is the team's starting right guard. The game marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of Mount Union Stadium.
The Purple Raiders are now 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the OAC. They hit the road to take on Capital (2-1, 1-1) Saturday.
Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on athletics.mountunion.edu.
Brian Knavish is a contributing writer.