No. 10 Slippery Rock football (3-0, 0-0) was able to put in its backups early in a 59-23 road win over Lock Haven University (0-3, 0-0) on Saturday.
For the first three-quarters, SRU dominated The Bald Eagles on both sides of the ball, outscoring them 45-0. The Rock’s running back corp was in spectacular fashion with 206 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, two of which came from senior running back Shamar Greene, but it was the breakout performance by starting graduate transfer quarterback Don King III that stood out.
“DK3” completed 33-49 passes for 411 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Those were all season bests for King. He connected on a third of those passes with redshirt junior wide receiver Cornelius Raye.
Raye, last season’s leading receiver, has had a slow start this year but made up for it with a showing of career highs in catches and yards with 11 receptions for 174 yards. Two of those catches were touchdowns. One was a deep ball for 43 yards to give The Rock its first points of the game, and the other a six-yard throw early in the third quarter.
Senior wide receiver Drew Scales caught King’s other touchdown pass. It was one of four catches for Scales for 55 yards. Raye and Scales were two out of five Rock receivers to catch at least four passes. King completed passes to a total of 11 different targets.
True freshman Nathaniel Musselman and The Rock second-string offense relieved the starters in the offense, contributing two more touchdowns. This was Musselman’s first collegiate experience and his first game in the backup role after Zack Newsock quit days before the game. He completed 3-4 passes for 31 yards.
On the other side of that ball, the domination was the same. With the return of senior defensive lineman Joe Phillips to the already talented defensive line, The Rock held the Bald Eagles to four yards on the ground.
With the assistance of the Rock secondary, led by sophomore defensive back Kyle Hall, The Rock held the second-ranked passing offense in the country to 94 yards before the starters were relieved. Hall led the team in tackles with five. He also broke up a pass.
Lock Haven’s quarterback redshirt senior quarterback Caleb Walton would make up for a rough performance against the backups and complete 21-45 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown.
Slippery Rock will face a much greater challenge this week as they take on Gannon University in its first game of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West play. The Golden Knights are coming off of 30-27 overtime win against the PSAC East no. 1 ranked team Bloomsburg University (2-1, 0-0).
After spending the last two weeks on the road, The Rock will return to Mihalik-Thompson Stadium with hopes of giving Gannon its first loss rather than getting its own. The two undefeated teams face off this Saturday at 6 p.m.