Jordan Fowler's 3-yard touchdown pass to Sean Griffin on fourth and goal with 11 seconds remaining sent Allegheny College to a 31-28 come-from-behind victory over the Denison Big Red from Meadville, Pa.
With time ticking off the clock, the Big Red defense had stopped the Gators on three consecutive plays from the one-yard line. On fourth down, Allegheny spread the field and Fowler took the snap out of the shotgun. After letting the play develop, he threw a bullet to Griffin in the back of the end zone for the game-winning score.
Denison would have one passing play from its own 41-yard line after the kickoff but the Hail Mary fell incomplete.
It was a hard-luck loss for a feisty Big Red squad that battled back from adversity and unfortunate field position all afternoon. Trailing by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, Max Paulus led DU on two consecutive scoring drives to take the lead back at 28-24 with 4:54 to play.
On its third possession of the fourth quarter, Paulus hooked up with senior wide receiver Braden Layer on a 28-yard yard TD pass, cutting the Gator lead to 24-21 with 13:43 left in the game.
After forcing Allegheny to punt after collecting one first down, DU took over on its own 2-yard line with 98 yards of green turf in front of them. That's when Paulus and junior tailback Sam Fioroni went to work on an impressive drive that saw DU convert a pair of third downs while posting four plays of 10-yards or more. After getting out of the shadows of its own goal post, Paulus would hit John Wilson on a 37-yard touchdown pass on second down. That play put Denison up 28-24 with 4:54 to play.
The rest is history as Allegheny would put together a methodical, 14-play 60-yard drive that ended with Fowler's touchdown to Griffin.
Fioroni entered the game leading the North Coast Athletic Conference in rushing and he will likely enter next week in the same position after toting the ball 26 times for 129 yards. Fioroni was also Paulus' favorite receiver. The Michigan native caught seven passes for a team-high 66 yards.
Paulus finished the game 16-of-23 for 211 yards and three touchdowns. His TD passes were spread around to Layer and Wilson in the second half and Lucas Graham who scored on a 30-yard pass play in the first quarter.
For Allegheny, Fowler was outstanding, completing 29-of-39 for 312 yards and three touchdowns. The Gators were held to only 92 yards rushing as a team but Matt Griffith and Griffin gave the DU defense fits, combining for 16 receptions for 190 yards and all three scores.
The Gators held a 404-382 advantage in yards gained but the Big Red outgained Allegheny, 165-92.
Denison falls to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the NCAC with the loss while Allegheny improves to 4-3 and 3-1 in conference play. The Big Red returns to action next Saturday (Oct. 22) when they travel to Crawfordsville, Ind. for a 1 p.m. kickoff against Wabash College.