The Slippery Rock football team earned their first PSAC-West win of the season last Saturday by defeating Mercyhurst University 58-34.
SRU is now 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference while Mercyhurst fell to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
The Rock put up 609 yards in total offense, 269 yards more than Merychurst.
The offensive effort by the Green and White pushed senior quarterback Nigel Barksdale and redshirt senior wide receiver John Schademan to the top of the PSAC leader boards. Barksdale leads in total passing yards and touchdowns while Schademan leads in total receiving yards and touchdowns.
Barksdale threw for 439 yards with two touchdown passes against the Lakers. He leads the PSAC with 1468 yards and 14 touchdowns for the season.
Last season, Barksdale suffered a knee injury and was cleared to play a few weeks before the season started.
“I wasn’t expecting to come back and stand out this way,” Barksdale said, “but it was always my goal.”
Schademan earned 229 yards and three touchdowns to make his season total to 569 yards and seven touchdowns. Schademan is ranked third nationally in pass receiving yards per game (142.3), fourth nationally in total receiving yards and tied for third nationally pass-receiving touchdowns. He was recognized as a Beyond Sports Network Division II national Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.
Head coach George Mihalik recognizes the chemistry that Barksdale and Schademan have on the field.
“They put in a lot of extra time after every practice,” Mihalik said. “Most days we have to go out and tell them that it’s enough and kick them off the field.”
Schademan has earned over 100 yards in each of the four games this season and is closing in on the five-game 100-plus yard record held by Devin Goda, set in 2011.
“It’s good to see our hard work pay off,” Barksdale said. “It gives space for my other receivers to perform well.”
Sophomore Jaimire Dutrieulle caught six passes for 88 yards, redshirt junior Ken Amos caught five for 81 yards, sophomore Andrew Bridgeforth had three for 27 yards, junior Julian Harrell had two for 12 yards, redshirt freshman Shamar Greene had two for 11 yards, senior LaQuinn Stephens-Howling had one for 11 yards, senior Jimmy Zubik had one for three yards and junior Teddy Blakeman caught one 37-yard pass for a touchdown.
“We have so many talented receivers,” Mihalik said. “The opponent can’t double-team Schademan because the other guys can play just as well. Nigel reads the defense and finds the open receiver.”
The Green and White also utilized the versatility of Blakeman to put the Mercyhurst defense in a bind.
Blakeman was a part of five SRU touchdowns by running in three, catching a pass and throwing 25-yards to Schademan.
“It’s rare that a player, in one game, is part of touchdowns in three different fashions,” Mihalik said. “It’s a compliment to his overall athletic ability.”
Redshirt sophomore running back Brett Crenshaw earned a six-yard touchdown in the first quarter to tie the game 7-7 after the Lakers scored on their opening possession.
Redshirt sophomore kicker Mike Wainauskis contributed a field goal in the first quarter of the game, giving SRU a 10-7 lead. Mercyhurst was held by the Rock defense and unable to comeback.
“The defense played a very strong, physical game,” Mihalik said. “Mercyhurst was nationally ranked in rushing offense and we held them to 50-yards below their average.”
Junior defensive back Austin Miele led the defensive effort with 10 total tackles. Redshirt junior Kevin Kulka earned one sack for a loss of seven yards. Junior Matt Peacock, senior Gary Allen, redshirt senior Bob Westerlund and redshirt senior Derek Walker were each credited with 0.5 sacks.
Slippery Rock will spend the first part of their fall break with a trip to Kutztown University to face the Golden Bears in a PSAC crossover game tomorrow at 1:05 p.m.