The rain kept pouring down all day, and as the bad weather continued so did the sloppy play of football by both teams. To the tune of Yung Wan and DMX’s “Tear it up,” the Indiana (Pa.) sideline rallied at every turn.
The Rock had no trouble moving the ball early on against the Crimson Hawk defense. In fact, The Rock had the first long drive of the game in the opening quarter after both offenses sputtered a little bit.
Slippery Rock drove 51 yards on just seven plays, but when trying to punch the ball in for the first points of the game, Noah Grover’s pass was tipped up and ultimately intercepted by IUP’s Kalen Frazier.
17 plays later, Mak Sexton found Hilton Ridley in the endzone to give the Crimson Hawks a 7-0 lead. The next drive, Grover and co. marched down the field again looking for the equalizer. For the second straight drive, the ball was snatched by IUP inside their own 15-yard line.
“We’ve got to capitalize, the two turnovers in the first half, I think were the difference,” Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said.
At half, it felt as if the game had just begun. IUP walked into the locker rooms with a slim 7-0 lead. The Rock was due to receive the ball at the start of the half, and the game that promised to be highly contested was living up to the hype it had all week.
The Rock came out aggressive, and took the ball 30 yards on 11 plays, but the drive ended on a failed fourth down attempt. It left the Crimson Hawks set up nicely, and they took advantage. Duane Brown, who in the second half caught a ball on what seemed like every IUP third down, came down with a touchdown just a few minutes later to give IUP a 14-0 lead.
The Rock offense finally answered back, as Grover hit Jawon Hall for their first points of the game. But the extra point was no good.
IUP took six and a half more minutes off the clock with a 13-play drive that saw Brown in the endzone once again. A failed extra point gave some hope to The Rock sideline, but they had to come back with points of their own again.
In just two minutes, Grover found Hall again. This time it was a 28-yard strike that pulled The Rock within eight. It was the final time either squad saw the endzone in the game.
Two more Rock drives sputtered out and sealed the 20-12 Crimson Hawk victory.
“Really in the second half, I liked what we did, but a couple missed tackles and Duane Brown, he showed why he’s one of the best in Division II,” Lutz said. “We were on him, but he just found a way to make plays.”
The Rock now lives in do or die situations for the next five weeks of play. In order to make the PSAC title game, many things will have to happen. To Lutz and The Rock, they’ll have to once again focus on themselves and what they have ahead of them if they’re make a return to the playoffs.