Slippery Rock football who was ranked number 25 coming into this week defeated Lock Haven University (0-3) Saturday evening 33-7 to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Redshirt senior defensive end Marcus Martin stole the spotlight when he broke the Division II career records for both sacks and tackles for loss. When the game was over, Martin had finished the game with three tackles for loss and two sacks which brought his career totals 79.5 TFL and 47 sacks.
“Right now I’m just focused on getting the team better,” Martin said. “I don’t want to just focus on myself. I’d rather win games than break records.”
Martin currently sits at 5th all-time in career sacks, and needs 6.5 sacks to break the all-division record of 53.5. After the game, SRU head coach Shawn Lutz had high praise for his senior defensive end.
“You don’t really ever see these types of moments, I mean this is history,” Lutz said. “And the kid is so modest, it doesn’t seem like it means a lot to him because he is such a team player.”
The Rock running game, which was lacking behind the passing attack the first two games, found its groove as the Green and White rushed the ball a total 31 times for 144 yards and two scores on the ground. Leading the charge was redshirt senior Isiah Neely who gained 111 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown. Redshirt freshman Chacar Berry had 29 yards on six carries and one score.
“I felt like we had a lot of pressure on us as a run game,” Berry said. “Everyone was looking for us to take charge, so that’s what we did. Our offensive line blocked their rear ends off and we took the initiative.”
In the passing game, redshirt senior quarterback Tanner Garry completed 15 passes on 31 attempts for 213 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. Garry was able to spread the wealth in the passing game, getting just about every receiver into the game.
“I like the fact that Carnel Harley had a catch,” Lutz said following the win on Saturday. “And some other guys, Dylan Stapleton had some catches and it was nice to rush for over a 100 yards with Isiah Neely.”
Just a 1:49 into the game, redshirt senior receiver Milly Raye provided yet another spin-move touchdown from 38 yards out to put The Rock up 7-0 early. The ensuing drive, Lock Haven drove the ball straight down the field, only to punish themselves with two penalties, followed by a missed field goal.
In the next four possessions, both teams punted the ball twice. Halfway threw the second quarter, a nearly four minute drive was ended by a Garry interception in the red-zone. The Green and White defense was then able to force a three and out. Followed by a good punt return by redshirt senior receiver Marcus Johnson, The Rock was able to start the drive at the Lock Haven 25 yard line. Neely found the end-zone five plays later with 1:25 remaining in the half, but sophomore kicker Jake Chapla had his extra-point blocked to make the score 13-0 going into halftime.
“I really gotta give credit to Lock Haven, that is a gritty football team,” Lutz said. “Give them all the credit in the world. They kept coming back and that was becoming a football game.”
Lock Haven received the second half kick-off and gave The Rock a scare, marching down the field scoring a one yard touchdown run, after driving the ball 73 yards and chewing up 6:11 off the clock. The touchdown was the first of the year where Lock Haven was able to find the end-zone. Running the ball up the middle often found success for Lock Haven as they rushed the ball 52 times for a total of 184 yards as a team.
“That is the worst feeling in the world,” Lutz said regarding Lock Haven’s running attack right up the middle. “I mean that is the foundation of what we’re all about is our physicality.”
The following drive the Green and White answered with a long drive of their own, going 65 yards on 13 plays, but could only muster a field goal to show, making the score 16-7 SRU. Lock Haven’s next drive was short lived, when junior defensive lineman Time Soave forced a fumble on the first play, which was recovered by The Rock on the Lock Haven three yard line. Then on the next play, Berry got on the board to put SRU up 23-7 with 3:22 left in the third.
The Rock defense was able to force two more turnovers in the game, but were unable to capitalize off them. After another Johnson punt return, SRU found themselves on the Lock Haven eight yard line, but were unable to find the end-zone and settled for a Chapla field goal to make the score 26-7.
When Lock Haven got the ball back the next drive, The Rock was able to force another three and out and got the ball at their own 40 yard line. The next play however, Garry threw his final touchdown of the night, when he hit junior receiver Carnel Harley for a 60 yard score to bring the score to 33-7 with 9:22 remaining in the game. The next offensive drive for The Rock saw most starters leave the game as SRU went on to win 33-7.
“They do say a wins a win,” Lutz said. “I don’t think we played of our ability. Kyle Knight (#16), that son of a gun took some hits and he made us miss and we just gotta do a better job of tackling him.”
The game marks The Rock’s 12th straight victory over a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East team, and improving their home record to 24-1 since the beginning of the 2013 season. The Green and White will get their first taste of PSAC West action next week when SRU travels to Gannon University (1-2) to take on the Golden Knights starting at noon this coming Saturday.