Slippery Rock University Football opened up the 2012 season in convincing fashion, by rolling over the Seton Hill Griffins 52-6 in a non-conference game at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium last Thursday night.
After a three and out on their first offensive series, The Rock got the scoring underway with 10:01 left in the first quarter. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jared Buck found redshirt senior tight end Josh Gardner for a 17 yard touchdown. Redshirt senior Kurt Brackman would add the extra point to make it 7-0.
The game marked Buck’s first collegiate start at quarterback.
“The way the offense is set up, someone is always open you just have to find the open guy,” Buck said. “The receivers ran great routes and made it easy for me.”
Buck wasn’t done there. With 3:43 left in the first quarter, Buck threw his second touchdown finding redshirt junior Michael Bongivengo from 10 yards out. Buck would later run add a rushing touchdown and also a third touchdown pass which went to Ken Amos from 28 yards out.
Rock head coach George Mihalik was impressed by Buck’s poise and command of the offense.
“I thought Jared did a great job handling the offense in his first start,” Mihalik said. “We played mistake-free football except for the interception at the end of the first half.”
“Mentally, I thought he managed the game very well and made good decisions,” he said. “He protected the football and he didn’t force anything, and also showed he can escape.”
The running game was led by redshirt senior Akeem Satterfield who finished the night with 118 yards on 13 carries. He also added a 27 yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Redshirt freshman Brett Crenshaw finished out the Rock’s scoring for the night with a two yard touchdown run. Junior Jimmy Zubik would also add 36 yards on 11 carries.
Defensively, The Rock had the Griffins under pressure all night, finishing with six sacks.
Redshirt senior Jeff Thompson led all Rock defenders with 2.5 sacks. He would also add six tackles, three assisted and three unassisted.
“Jeff is our catalyst on defense,” Mihalik said. “He gets things started and when they have to focus on Jeff, then the rest of the defense can start making plays.”
The Rock defense contributed to the scoring also as redshirt junior Anthony Saunders would return an interception 50 yards for a touchdown.
“Saunders made a great break on the ball and showed his speed,” Mihalik said. “I think at that point the air went out of them.”
The Rock defense held Seton Hill to a mere 4-18 on third downs.
The Rock will begin cross over play tomorrow as they travel to Shippensburg University to take on the Red Raiders at Seth Grove Stadium.
Shippensburg (1-0) pened up the 2012 season by defeating Shepherd University 38-28. Shippensburg racked up 460 yards of offense. Going into the game, Shepherd was ranked No. 19 in the American Football Coaches Associations poll.
Mihalik sees similarities between the Red Raiders offense and the Rock offense.
“Shippensburg runs the up-tempo offense, which is what we run,” Mihalik said.
Offensively, Shippensburg has a number of weapons, but is led by junior quarterback Zach Zulli whom was named PSAC East Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Shepherd.
Stopping Zulli and the air attack of the Red Raiders will be a tough task for a young Rock defense that is a little banged up on the injury front.
Redshirt sophomore Admire Carter is out for this week and possibly multiple games with a high ankle sprain. Redshirt junior linebacker Bob Westerlund has a hand injury, which will require surgery and will keep him out of this weekend and most likely multiple games after this weekend.
“Their quarterback is an excellent player,” Mihalik said. “Behind cornerbacks Brandon Burley and Anthony Saunders, we have Marzett Geters and Will Graham.”
“They are going to start their careers against a very good offense and I’m hoping that our special teams can give us an edge,” he said.
Offensively, the Rock will have to keep Shippensburg linebacker Cody Flemming blocked. Flemming was named to the Lindy’s first team preseason All-American squad. The Shippensburg defense recorded eight tackles for loss, three sacks and forced three turnovers against Shepherd.
“Flemming is all over the field,” Mihalik said. “He’s a very good athlete.”
The Rock offensive line, like the secondary is young and will be tested tomorrow afternoon.
“Our young offensive line got some great game experience last Thursday.” Mihalik said. “Their defense really gets after you.”
“You don’t know where they’re coming from,” he said. “It’s been a challenge to try to prepare for that kind of defense.”
SRU will return home on September 15 to take on the Gannon Knights at 6 p.m. White-Out game at Mihalik Thompson Stadium.