Nobody said it would be easy facing the highest ranked opponent ever to visit West Herr Stadium, but the Kats hung tough most of the way before finally bowing 34-17, Oct. 1 on Military Appreciation Day.
Perhaps assistant coach Steve Pangallo put it best when he tweeted, "Losing is always tough, but we played the No. 4 team in the nation even for three quarters."
Indeed they did. For the first three quarters, every time Lackawanna College scored, the Kats replied. The Falcons opened the scoring, but Rashad Woods rumbled 18 yards into the endzone on a fumble recovery for a 7-7 tie. That score would stay intact as the first quarter ended.
Lackawanna tried to pull away in the second with a 14-7 lead, but again the Kats responded. This time, Sam Castronova hit Chris Davis on a 23-yard passing play with 62 seconds left in the first half to tie the game at 14 at the intermission.
The Falcons went up 21-14 early in the third. Erie responded, but this time with Jonathan Royster 28-yard field goal to bring the game within four points at 21-17.
After answering the call three separate times to near even play after three quarters, the No. 4 Falcons could only pull away in the final quarter with the Kats only trailing by two-scores with under nine minutes to go.
Although Coach Pags referenced the score at about even for three quarters, the final statistics showed the Kats played the Falcons even in many areas all the way to the end.
Lackawanna ran only three more plays than ECC (64-61), edged the Kats in first downs by only three (20-17), and held the ball for a mere 42 seconds more in total possession time than Erie.
The No. 4 Falcons had only 17 more passing yards than ECC, although the Kats were more proficient on third down, percentage-wise, 27-20.
Kat fans came out in full support with several hundred in attendance, and the canned-food drive also received a big boost with hundreds of donations collected for the Buffalo City Mission through ECC's Student Government Association.
The Erie County Sheriff's Department flew its helicopter over the field during the National Anthem to help honor the 17 ECC veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Kats will have another chance to beat another nationally-ranked opponent as they travel to No. 16 DuPage College next weekend.
For a photo gallery of the ECC-Lackawanna game, follow this link: http://galleries.buffalonews.com/default.aspx?id=7041#/1