After beating the University of New Haven last Saturday, no. 15 ranked Slippery Rock football (1-0, 0-0) will have its first conference game in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship rematch against the West Chester University Golden Rams (1-0, 0-0).
Each team is coming off of close out of conference wins that consisted of poor quarterback performances and 4th quarter comebacks. West Chester came back from a 10 point deficit in the final quarter to defeat Bentley University (0-1,0-0) 31-24. The Golden Rams starting quarterback junior Pat Moriarty was relieved after throwing two interceptions by his backup junior Andrew Derr. Derr completed 11-19 passes for 163 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The Rock had a very similar situation. Post-graduate quarterback Don King III threw two interceptions before the second half that led to touchdowns. SRU would trail by 14 until a 4th quarter kickoff return by senior slot receiver Drew Scales, two big completions to junior wide receiver Marcus Johnson and strong defensive stands led the Rock to a 31-28 victory.Rock head coach Shawn Lutz called his first win as head coach emotional.
“The biggest thing I want to do against West Chester that we didn’t do against New Haven is play four quarters of football,” Lutz said.
Lutz recognizes what this game means to WCU. He said that he knows a team like that wants to come back and beat them this year, especially on its home field, but he plans on repeating last year’s outcome.
“They were picked number one in the (PSAC) East in the preseason, and we played them last year in the championship,” Lutz said. “But what people don’t remember is we beat them up pretty good.”
In last season’s contest, the Green and White dominated WCU on both sides of the ball in a 61-12 blowout. The defensive front held the Golden Rams to only 53 yards on the ground. The defensive line’s standstill was led by Rock standout redshirt junior defensive end Marcus Martin who had three tackles and one sack. If Martin can duplicate that performance he will take over the records for the most career sacks in PSAC history.
Martin’s road to breaking another record will not come easily as the Rock will be tested by an experienced offensive line and, who Lutz described as, a shifty running back in junior Jarel Elder. Elder ran for 104 yards in the Golden Rams’ last contest.
“He’s not a bigger, strong guy, like the ones from New Haven,” Lutz said. “He’s a jitterbug, he makes people miss.”
Elder has not deemed himself to be the threat the Rock’s main running back redshirt senior Shamar Greene has proven to be. Greene had a 8.5 rushing average against the Golden Rams in last year’s title game rushing for 178 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. He has yet to miss a beat from last season rushing for 162 yards and two touchdowns against New Haven. Lutz said West Chester’s veterans linebackers could cause some problems for the Rock and its inexperienced offensive line, but he feels that if as an offense they set the pace and clean up their performance, they shouldn’t have a problem.
“I’d like to see our guys speed up the tempo a little more,” Lutz said. “We had a lot of mental mistakes and penalties, which makes it hard to be fast. There are a lot of things I think we can control. It doesn’t matter who we are playing.”
The Rock will have the opportunity to take control of the conference and make a statement against one of its top teams at West Chester on Saturday, Sept. 10 at noon.