Despite a week of controversy off the field, Rock football cruised to a 40-21 victory over Virginia Union in the first round of the NCAA Division II football playoffs at its own Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.
The Rock, coming off its second consecutive Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship, was unable to get points on the board during its first two possessions, but that changed as redshirt-junior and Harlon Hill Award candidate Shamar Greene found the end zone from two yards out with 4:46 remaining in the first quarter.
Two minutes later, senior linebacker Teven Williams picked off the Panthers quarterback for a 24-yard touchdown. A missed extra point would give SRU the 13-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
The Rock would take a halftime lead of 26-7 into the locker room and close out Virginia Union late in the second half. Greene finished the game as its leading rusher with 154 yards and two scores.
Senior quarterback Dante Nania led The Rock offense through the air with 249 yards on 17 completions and three touchdowns.
Redshirt-sophomore led all Rock receivers with six receptions and 151 receiving yards. Redshirt-junior Leroy McClain hauled in three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown while senior Marcus Carter caught three passes including an eight-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
As a unit, The Rock defense allowed just 60 yards but allowed 410 yards through the air. Redshirt-sophomore Marcus Martin made six solo and six assisted tackles including 15 yards of total loss. Two of Martin’s tackles were sacks.
Along with his interception in the opening half, Williams had 10 total tackles worth four yards of total loss. Redshirt-senior defensive back Derek Morgan and senior linebacker Johnny Davis each recorded one interception apiece as well.
With the win, The Green and White ensure at least one more home game during the tournament, as it will host Assumption College in round two at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.