Justin Caliste saw daylight once again.
Then he was down — and out.
The electrifying Gannon sophomore returner had already returned a punt for a touchdown in Saturday’s game against rival Mercyhurst that knotted it at 14-14 in the second quarter.
Then early in the third quarter with his team down 31-14, Caliste went down with an ankle injury and never returned. Gannon lost 38-29.
“I tried to make a cut and next thing you know, I felt my foot sideways on the ground,” he said. “Probably the worst pain I’ve felt due to my ankle.”
Gannon coach Brad Rzyczycki said he has between 11 and 12 players out with injuries. While Caliste may be just 5-5, he may be the biggest loss of them all because he can change momentum at any time.
On that ill-fated kickoff return, Caliste said he was about to get Gannon back in the game, again.
“It was six points,” he said.
Caliste said he’s always had ankle issues in part because he makes his share of cuts on the field. Earlier in the game, he tweaked the same ankle, but played through the pain as evidence of him ripping off a 65-yard punt return score.
“I can walk off the tweaks,” he said.
The second one was more than a tweak.
Screaming in pain, Caliste threw off his helmet and had to be carried off the field. Fans were quiet as he was being treated on the field and applauded when he was taken out the game.
“I knew as soon as I hurt it, I probably wouldn’t be able to finish the game,” said Caliste, who was on crutches after the game. “Usually if I hurt my ankle, I can walk it off and I’ll be good, but this one, soon as I went down, it wasn’t looking too good.”
– Duane Rankin