It was a Week 2 injury that had some thinking it might be season-ending. But Ryan Fenningham is a tough guy, and wasn't trying to hear any of the missing the rest of the season talk.
Fenningham spent the next few weeks rehabbing his partially torn ACL with a set return date of October 20, Lycoming's homecoming and match-up with MAC foe Widener.
Fenningham reached his goal of a Widener return, and helped anchor a defense that forced the league's top offense into seven turnovers.
Unfortunately for Fenningham, after he reinjured his knee on one of Lycoming's five interceptions, Widener gutted out a late touchdown to spoil the homecoming fun, 28-23.
After a Tanner Troutman interception helped Lycoming set up its first touchdown, Fenningham stepped in front of another Chris Haupt pass for the team's second interception. Fenningham came down on his knee wrong, but still managed to hold the ball for the turnover.
"When I went up for the interception I came down and felt a shift in my knee," Fenningham said. "I knew from that point it was going to be tough to come back. I got on the bike after halftime and iced it at halftime, but it wasn't in the cards. I couldn't cut or run on it."
In obvious pain on the sideline, Fenningham sat out the remainder of the half and attempted to come back in the second half, but was left out as a precaution.
"We're going to ice it and Monday I have another MRI and we'll see from there," Fenningham said. "I'm just going to be positive and if I can't get out there I'm going to coach it up on the sidelines."
Fenningham's play certainly motivated the defense, which forced Widener into turnovers on five of its last nine drives.
"He's a one of a kind kid. He goes out there and plays his heart out. He's very motivating," Troutman said. "He's been hurt for a while now, but even in practice he's out there running all around because he's been trying to get that knee better for a while now. He wants to be out there and nobody wants to be out there more than Fenn. When he comes out there and shows us how we want to play the game, it motivates us."
Lycoming was quick to take advantage of the turnovers, converting five into 23 points for a lead it held for the majority of the day.
"We knew coming in how many weapons they had on offense and how good they were," Fenningham said. "Our defense is just as good as their offense and I believe that. I thought we played a hell of a game and guys didn't quit on us. It was just a play here and there and that's the game."
The game's outcome was set in motion when Widener converted a third and 21 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Haupt found Steve Marrero over the middle for a 40-yard pick up on the play.
The Pride continued to move down the field with two Anthony Davis catches being the difference. The dagger was finally dropped when Davis snagged a 34-yard reception for the go ahead touchdown with 17 seconds left.
"We put them on a long field and forced them to make mistakes," Fenningham said. "Defensively we kind of bended a bit and gave up some big pass plays on third downs, but we never broke. Keeping them on a long field was big, because it forced them into mistakes."
"We had kids step up. But without a doubt, Fenn's got skills and he's an All-American in my mind no matter what happens," Troutman said. "We like to have him out there because he's a leader."