The Slippery Rock University football team (7-2) held Edinboro University (1-8) to single digits in their game last Saturday.
SRU defeated Edinboro 29-7, which is the lowest amount an opponent has scored against the Rock this season.
“We had great pressure on their quarterback, and we pretty much controlled their running game, which forced them into a passing game,” SRU head coach George Mihalik said. “This is the second week in a row that we created turnovers, and anytime you get points from the special teams, it’s a bonus.”
The Green and White scored went into halftime with a 17-0 shutout lead over Edinboro. They scored 12 points in the second half, and allowed Edinboro’s only touchdown in the third quarter.
“You know that in any game, like we found out a few weeks ago, if you don’t come out in the second half, like we found out a few weeks ago what can happen,” Mihalik said. “The players knew that it’s another must-win if we want to keep our conference championship hopes alive as well as NCAA national playoffs. There wasn’t much that needed to be said at halftime; they knew what was at stake.”
The Rock’s running game was heavily focused once again, with SRU’s running backs carrying the ball 61 times for a total of 250 yards. Sophomore running back Shamar Greene led the team with 158 yards, but was unable to score a touchdown. Senior running back Teddy Blakeman scored the only rushing touchdown of the game (for either team) while rushing for 18 yards off of six carries. Senior quarterback Jared Buck also rushed for 41 yards off of nine carries.
“We always want to be able to run the football and be a two dimensional offense,” Mihalik said. “The wind was a big time factor in the passing game, and half the game we were throwing into a very strong wind. Sometimes, that affected a little bit of the play calling.”
In his third start of the season, Buck threw for 121 yards (14-22) and had two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was also sacked three times. Buck’s two touchdown passes were caught by junior wide receivers Jaimire Dutrieuille and Nick Davis.
“The offense played well, but we didn’t get the points on the board,” Mihalik said. “Twice in the redzone and we came out with zero points, that’s something you don’t like to see happen. You have to get points any time you’re down there.”
The SRU defense had 19 players with at least one tackle. Senior defensive back Admire Carter had two interceptions, and senior linebacker Levi Sager had his first interception of the season. Sophomore defensive tackle Erik Johnson forced a fumble, his second of the season. Junior running back Julian Durden recovered a fumble and scored a touchdown off of it.
“He’s that veteran corner back and senior, and you expect your seniors to be play makers,” Mihalik said about Carter. “He definitely was on Saturday.”
The Green and White are currently in a three-way tie for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division title. With two games left in the season, SRU is tied (6-2 in PSAC) with California University of Pennsylvania and Gannon University. If SRU wins against Clarion University (2-7) this Saturday, and Cal U loses to Mercyhurst University, then the Rock will win the PSAC-West.
“It’s PSAC Championship week, that’s what it’s about,” Mihalik said. “None of that’s possible without a win, and it’s also the “Milk Jug Game”. The winner of this game between Slippery Rock and Clarion keeps the milk jug for the entire season.”
Mihalik said his team can only worry about themselves and win, and then see what happens.
“All we can control is us, and make sure that we win the game,” Mihalik said. “With a win, that keeps us in contention for a postseason bid, but this one will definitely determine who the western representatives are in the conference championship.”
SRU’s game against Clarion is this Saturday at 12 p.m. in Clarion, Pennsylvania.