Rock Football outgained Mercyhurst University (1-4) with 436 yards of offense to the Lakers 267 on Saturday, with The Rock coming out on top 41-21 at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.
“To be perfectly honest with you, probably the last time we played this well against a Mercyhurst football team,” SRU football head coach Shawn Lutz said. “I’m not trying to pump us up or anything like that, we played a pretty damn good game.”
The Green and White jumped out to a 28-0 lead halfway through the second quarter, ultimately putting the game out of reach just after it started. Mercyhurst would score two-second quarter touchdowns, but The Rock would still go on to out-score the Lakers in the second half 10-7 to secure their fourth win of the season.
With the win, The Rock’s improves their overall record to 4-1 on the season and 2-0 in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) play. The Green and White currently sit in second place in the PSAC West behind first place Clarion University (4-1).
Junior quarterback Roland Rivers picked up right where he left off last week throwing for three touchdowns, completing 25 of his 38 passes for 294 yards and zero interceptions. Rivers also continued his dominance in the running attack adding another score on the ground early in the second quarter.
“This guy right here is getting better each and every week,” Lutz said about Rivers’ performance. “He’s a playmaker. I’m still trying to get him to understand if it’s not there sometimes just go down, but he has a God-given natural ability and he’s becoming a leader on the football team.”
The go-to target for Rivers on the day was redshirt sophomore receiver Jermaine Wynn Jr. who caught a team-leading seven passes for 70 yards. Rivers again proved he can spread the wealth on offense with his three touchdown passes going to redshirt junior tight ends Zach Cirillo and Aramis Alexander, followed by redshirt junior receiver Mike Merhaut.
Senior running back Wes Hills made his return to the field from injury this Saturday and was able to log nine carries for 69 yards and a score in his first game back since getting hurt in week two. Coach Lutz mentioned that getting Hills back this week was to test the waters and get him prepared for the following game against Indiana University (Pa.).
“[Hills] looked pretty sharp, I didn’t think he was too rusty,” Lutz said. “We know next week is a big game against IUP and that’s our rivals, no one’s going to deny that, but its different with this team it’s not about them. It’s what we can control.”
The Rock defense was led by sophomore outside linebacker Trysten McDonald who led the team with eight tackles on the day and a sack to boot. SRU held the Lakers to just under 100 total rushing yards with 70 of those yards coming off a long touchdown run in the second quarter while holding them to just 171 through the air.
“I think eventually they did after we fell behind,” Mercyhurst head coach Marty Schaetzle said regarding The Rock’s defensive line controlling the line of scrimmage. “It’s not good pass protection operation. There were some early plays to be made offensively that could have turned this into maybe more of an offensive shoot-out.”
An area Coach Lutz really wants to clean up is the penalties against his team. Against Mercyhurst, The Rock was called for 10 penalties that cost them 105 yards.
“These penalties are getting ridiculous,” Lutz said. “We’re getting over 100 yards in penalties. Again, against a really good football team, we can’t have over 100 yards in penalties and expect to win a game.”
This week The Rock will face off against IUP, who is coming off a loss 36-24 loss to California University (Pa.). IUP came into last week ranked No.2 in Division II football, but fell to No. 14 after this past Saturday. This week’s game is set for a 2:00 p.m. kickoff at IUP. Last season The Rock fell to IUP 17-34 at home.