Rock football soars over Griffins

Published by adviser, Author: Brian Hepfinger - Sports Editor, Date: October 2, 2014
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The No. 14 ranked Slippery Rock University football team (4-0) has managed to defeat all four opponents this season by an average score of 29 points, and in their game against Seton Hill University (1-3) last Saturday, it was no different.

SRU won the game 63-19, which is their biggest margin of victory this season. 

The Rock shutout Seton Hill in every quarter, except for the third.

The game was opened up with a 91-yard kickoff return by SRU sophomore wide receiver Drew Scales, which gave the Rock and early 7-0 lead.

“There is no bigger momentum changing play in a football game than big special teams play,” SRU head coach George Mihalik said. “When you can start off the game like that, the momentum was wearing green and white.”

The Rock went on to score 21 more points before Seton Hill was able to score.

SRU sophomore quarterback Zack Newsock had his biggest game of the season. 

He threw for 299 yards (23-33) and had four touchdowns and two interceptions. Newsock’s previous touchdown-high in a game was two.

“Zack is getting better every game, and he’s getting more knowledgeable and comfortable in the offense,” Mihalik said. “He has improved chemistry with the wide receivers. It’s a work in progress, and so far, that’s what Zack and our offense has done.”

The Rock had a more balanced attack than in previous games. 

They ran the ball 55 times and threw the ball 33 times, which is a closer margin than normal.

Mihalik said Seton Hill tried to stop the running game, but it doesn’t work that way.

“In an attempt to eliminate our running game, they crowded the line of scrimmage, so we emphasized the passing game a little more,” Mihalik said. “Once we completed a few passes, that opened up the run game.”

The Rock’s running backs scored four touchdowns total. 

SRU was led by sophomore Shamar Greene, who rushed for 128 yards and had two touchdowns. 

Juniors Brett Crenshaw and Julian Durden also had a touchdown each.

“I don’t think that defenses can overload either side, pass or run, because we’re showing that we can throw the football and be successul,” Mihalik said.

SRU senior wide receiver Melvin German caught three of Newsock’s touchdown passes.

 He caught four passes 114 yards, and his longest catch was for 45 yards.

Scales caught Newsock’s other touchdown pass, to go along with seven catches for 72 yards.

“Melvin joined us for the first time this year, and it’s taken him a while to get comfortable in the offense,” Mihalik said. “It shows that he has big-play capabilities, and his confidence level was greatly improved by that performance of three touchdowns.”

The SRU defense had another balanced attack. 

The Rock had 24 defenders with at least one tackle. 

They were led by sophomore linebacker Bob Vernick and sophomore defensive lineman, who had eight tackles each. 

Senior linebacker Austin Miele, junior defensive tackle Avery Anderson, and senior defensive back Admire Carter had seven tackles each. 

Miele also had a 36-yard interception that led to a Rock touchdown.

“When you hold a team to 30 yards rushing, you know what they’re going to do then,” Mihalik said. “If you’re throwing the football every down, you’re going to complete some balls. Give their quarterback and wide receiver credit, they made some great plays.”

Mihalik said he thought that overall his defense played a solid game.

“The defensive line and linebackers held the line of scrimmage and stopped the running game,” Mihalik said. “If you throw the ball enough, we’re gonna intercept it. Miele’s interception was real big.”

SRU holds multiple top 10 offensive statistical categories in Division II football. 

They are the number one rated offense with 568 yards per game. 

They’re also the number five rated scoring offense with 50.5 per game, and the number six rated rushing offense with 318.8 yards per game.

“Hard work is rewarded, and I think it gives our entire offense that feeling of fulfillment,” Mihalik. “If we practice and prepare the way we can, good things happen. It’s everything: the line, receivers, quarterbacks, backs, and a total team effort.”

The Rock also has two defensive ratings. 

They’re the number four rated rushing defense, allowing 57 rushing yards per game. 

They’re also the number seven rated red zone defense, because they have allowed opponents to score points on 50 percent of their drives that are inside the 20-yard line.

The Green and White’s next game is against the undefeated Gannon University (4-0).

Mihalik said that Gannon is a very physical team, and that they have a solid offense and defense.

“We know that this’ll be the toughest game that we’ve played this year,” Mihalik said. “It’s for first place in the western division, so both teams know what’s on the line. Gannon’s a quality opponent. We better be prepared and ready to play.”

The game will be on Saturday at home at 6 p.m. 

SRU sophomore quarterback Zack Newsock looks for an open receiver during last Saturday's game against Seton Hill University. Newsock threw for 299 yards and had four touchdowns.
Rebecca Dietrich
SRU sophomore quarterback Zack Newsock looks for an open receiver during last Saturday’s game against Seton Hill University. Newsock threw for 299 yards and had four touchdowns.

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