The Slippery Rock University football team traveled to Shippensburg University on Saturday to take on the Raiders in a game that went back and forth all day long. The game looked promising for The Rock, down four points, as they were on the four-yard line with just under a minute left in regulation. However, a late pass from quarterback Taylor King resulted in the ball being intercepted by Shippensburg and thus, ultimately handed The Rock a 25-21 loss.
The week two loss is The Rock’s earliest defeat in a season since the 2012 campaign when, coincidentally, they lost to Shippensburg 55-35.
The loss puts the Green and White at 1-1 on the young season with Shippensburg improving to 2-0.
Sophomore linebacker Trysten McDonald helped The Rock get out to an early lead by recovering a fumble and charging down the field for a 97-yard touchdown. The touchdown was the only scoring recorded by the Green and White in the first half of play.
Leading 21-18 with just over a minute remaining in the game, The Rock intercepted the ball on their own two-yard line. Although positioned to close out the game with a victory, things would quickly go downhill for The Rock. On second down, the snap went over the head of quarterback Taylor King and was recovered for a touchdown by Shippensburg’s Richard Nase, which would end up being the game-winning touchdown.
Offensively, Slippery Rock recorded 457 passing yards and 45 rushing yards. The offense was plagued early on in the game when senior running back Wes Hills was hurt with an undisclosed injury on the second play of the afternoon. Hills, a transfer from the University of Delaware, has never played a full season healthy, according to Rock head coach Shawn Lutz.
Hills was not the only member of the offense victim to an injury during the game. Junior quarterback Andrew Koester, in his first season leading The Rock offense, was hurt sometime during the first half of play and left the game during halftime. Despite playing just the first half of play, Koester threw for 122 yards on 11 completions. He was replaced by The Rock’s primary backup, sophomore Taylor King, a transfer from Butte College (Ca.). King threw for 335 yards on 20 completions, but still threw two interceptions, the latter of the two proving costly for The Rock as it allowed Shippensburg to retake possession of the ball in the final seconds of the game, thus handing defeat to SRU.
Redshirt sophomore Chacar Berry rushed for a net gain of 57 yards, scoring one touchdown in the third quarter in the process. A majority of The Rock’s offense came from their top two receivers, senior Carnel Harley and redshirt sophomore Henry Litwin, who combined for 270 receiving yards, with Litwin recording a 62-yard touchdown.
Junior transfer Brad Zaffram recorded a team-high nine tackles. Zaffram, in his first season at Slippery Rock, played for Jones County Junior College and Lackawanna College during his first two years of college. The Rock defense was also aided by senior Kyle Hall, who had seven tackles, blocked one kick, and recorded an interception.
Saturday afternoon’s loss to Shippensburg puts The Rock at 40-22-2 all-time against The Raiders.
Slippery Rock will look to recover from their week two loss when they take on the Millersville University Marauders (0-2) at Chryst Field at Biemesderfer Stadium in Millersville, Pennsylvania. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.