In an offense that averages 423 yards per game this season, The Rock offense looks to rebound against a winless Seton Hill University after posting just 223 total offensive yards last week against Clarion University (1-8).
Redshirt senior quarterback Tanner Garry threw for a season-low 57 passing yards on just seven completions on 24 attempts. Seven dropped passes from senior receiver Marcus Johnson and others contributed to Garry’s off day last week on a rainy afternoon, but SRU football head coach Shawn Lutz believes the weather did not factor into the offense’s struggles.
“I’m not ever going to use the excuse of the weather, weather had nothing to do with it,” Lutz said. “We didn’t have focus from the time we got out of the locker room.”
Despite Garry’s season-low performance, he still leads Division II football in passing yards for the season by a single yard with 2,889 to junior Amir Hall of Bowie State’s 2,888.
The Rock defense was able to get the better of the Clarion offense on Saturday as redshirt senior defensive end Marcus Martin recorded 4.5 sacks to claim the number one spot on the NCAA All-Divisions record book for career sacks. Martin also scored his first career touchdown on an 84-yard fumble recovery, helping him earn Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West defensive player of the week.
“He (Martin) should write a book someday, I mean can you have a better script than that,” coach Lutz said. “It could be his last game ever playing at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium, having that touchdown, and breaking the record on a senior day, it’s just amazing.”
The Rock offense comes into this week’s game ranked fifth in the PSAC in scoring, averaging 36 points a game, while Seton Hill’s defense ranks last in the conference as they have surrendered an average of 52 points per game. Garry utilizing receivers Johnson, redshirt senior Milly Raye and others has led The Rock to average 331 yards per game through the air. This could bring trouble for The Griffins as the give up a conference-high 297 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks.
“That’s something we got to be excited about,” Lutz said. “They have not stopped anybody, we score a lot of points. I’m hoping we can score early and often.”
Running the ball has proven to be the weak spot on The Rock offense this season. Between redshirt senior Isiah Neely and redshirt freshman Chacar Berry, Neely is the only Rock running back to rush for over 100 yards in a game when he rushed for 111 yards against Lock Haven University. Seton Hill gives up an average of 283 yards per game on the ground.
“I’m really mad that we can’t run the football right now,” Lutz said. “It’s all about being physical and getting a push up front and we’re not getting that.”
The Griffin’s offense is led by redshirt senior quarterback Christian Strong who ranks second in the conference in passing yards behind Garry with 2,552. All though he leads the conference in interceptions with 20 this season, Strong and The Griffins are tied for the least amount of sacks against in the conference with six. Quick passes from Strong and many different formations are the reasons for their offensive success this season coach Lutz explained.
“He can throw a deep ball, that’s the biggest thing he does well,” Lutz said. “You think Clarion and even Edinboro throw the ball quick, they’re even quicker.”
Coming into the game, The Griffin’s are looking for their first win of the season and The Rock can expect to see a desperate Seton Hill team. With only two games remaining on the schedule, coach Lutz hopes his team’s motivation to make the national playoffs will outdo their opponent’s desperation to get their first win.