Led by junior quarterback Nigel Barksdale, who was making his second start of the year, Slippery Rock University football (3-4, 2-2) was able to end a three-game losing streak by defeating Clarion University (3-4, 1-3) 28-20 in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-West play last Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Clarion.
Barksdale was 19-26 for 257 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. He also racked up 55 yards on the ground on 16 carries and scored one touchdown on foot.
“He had a full week to prepare and get his reps in practice,” Rock head coach George Mihalik said. “He managed the game very well. He made the right checks and reads. I was pleased with his mental preparation and the way he performed. He showed his ability to beat an opponent in two ways, through his running ability and his passing ability.”
Barksdale kicked off the scoring as he found freshman receiver Jaimire Dutrieuille from 14 yards out, after SRU forced a Clarion punt on the opening drive of the game.
Barksdale continued to make plays as he made the score 14-0 with 10:54 left in the first half with a two-yard touchdown run. The Rock went into halftime leading 14-6.
Barksdale finished out the scoring for the Green and White with a three-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Josh Gardner in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Defensively, SRU upheld the saying, “bend but don’t break.” Despite being outgained 404-376, the Rock defense was able to hold off a Clarion comeback late in the fourth quarter and also held Clarion to four for 14 on third downs.
SRU respectfully was eight for 14 and also was four for four inside the red zone.
“We needed to win badly,” Mihalik said. “It’s amazing what a win can do for the morale of a young team. The confidence is back, knowing that when we play a full 60 minutes, we can win a football game.”