In an upsetting loss to Edinboro University (7-1, 4-1) at homecoming, Slippery Rock football (5-3, 2-3) lost its starting and second string quarterbacks to injury. With both quarterbacks still banged up, third-string quarterback Augustus Necastro will be commanding The Rock’s offense this week against Clarion University (2-6, 1-4) in “The Battle for the Milk Jug”.
“You can’t argue with Augustus’ performance,” Lutz said. “He went 17 for 22 twenty-two when he lead us on that good comeback.”
Necastro played a big portion in SRU’s comeback last week before his team would lose after a Rock penalty would give the Fighting Scots an opportunity to score with no time left on the clock.
Necastro entered the game after Don King III (concussion) had to leave the game at the end of the first half and Nathaniel Musselman (leg) left early in the second. Musselman may receive time in the game, but Lutz said he is still suffering from the hit that took him out of the game.
Necastro entered the third quarter down 13-31. On his first full drive, Necastro led The Rock down the field to score his first touchdown of his career. It was his first of two passing touchdowns. Necastro’s 187 yards, two touchdowns and 77.3 percent completion percentage were major contributions to the Rock’s 22 points in the second half.
Lutz said Necastro will have the opportunity to throw the ball but will be looking to redshirt junior running back Isiah Neely to lead the rushing attack. Neely had season highs 135 yards rushing and 69 receiving yards against Edinboro.
“Isiah has the hot hand right now,” Lutz said. “We have Dom Dingle and Dontez Rash too, so it all depends on who has the hot hand.”
Both will struggle if the offensive line does not step up. Lutz said their performance this year has been a disappointment and it has to get better. The offensive line should have a less challenging opponent up front than in past weeks taking on a weak Golden Eagle’s rushing defense. Clarion has allowed 2071 rushing yards this and have allowed its last two opponents to rush for over 300 yards.
The Rock should not have that problem against one of the lowest ranked rushing offenses in the PSAC. The number two ranked defense in the conference led by Eastern Michigan transfer Anthony Zappone held the Edinboro to 19 yards on the ground, averaging only 1 yard per carry.
Though the Golden Eagles passing game is more efficient, they do not compare to Edinboro’s, who SRU held to 248 yards in the air, one of its lowest performances of the season. With junior defensive back Titus Howard’s targeting penalty being overturned guaranteeing his eligibility to play this week, Lutz feels confident in what his defense can do.
“They were the number one pass offense in the country,” Lutz said. “We held them to 262 yards and intercepted them 5 times in that football game. I thought the defense kept us in the game besides that last drive.”
Lutz feels confident that this can be the week that his team gets back on a winning track, but he knows that his postseason aspirations are out of reach. For most, three losses would be a good season, but in Division II and PSAC football, it is almost impossible to make the playoffs or the conference championship with multiple losses on your record.
“Right now, we are playing for pride,” Lutz said. “I just hope anytime we’re competing and have games left, you hopefully won’t see a difference. Our guys just love to compete and that’s what it’s all about.”
Though Lutz will not have the opportunity to bring any major hardware into his office his first year, he has the opportunity to keep the “Milk Jug” at the Rock. The Rock has had possession of the “Milk Jug” every year since its creation in 2010.
Lutz and the Rock will travel to Clarion University to take on the Golden Eagles on Saturday at 12:00 p.m.