The Slippery Rock University football team’s quest for the national championship came to an end on Saturday as they were defeated by no. 11 Notre Dame College (Ohio) with a final score of 21-17.
The Rock jumped out to an early lead on a Jake Chapla field goal to give his team the 3-0 advantage. That lead would be the only one for Slippery Rock for the duration of the afternoon as the Falcons would score on their very next drive on a 22-yard rush from running back Jale McLaughlin to make the score 7-3.
Just minutes into the second quarter, Notre Dame would strike again for a touchdown, this time on a touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Brimm to wide receiver Andrew Turski to increase The Rock’s deficit by 11 points.
The Green and White refused to go down without a fight as junior quarterback Roland Rivers III connected with redshirt sophomore Jermaine Wynn Jr. for a nine-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to make the score 14-10.
Notre Dame quickly retaliated on the next drive as Brimm connected with wide receiver Marvelle Ross for a 52-yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-10 going into halftime. Notre Dame would not score again throughout the remainder of the game.
With The Rock down 11 points late in the third quarter, Rivers would hand the ball off to senior Wes Hills that would result in a 19-yard touchdown run to decrease Notre Dame’s lead to four points.
With neither team able to find the end zone in the fourth the quarter, Notre Dame handed The Rock their third loss of the season.
Rivers finished the day with 177 passing yards with 18 completions on 30 attempts and a touchdown. He threw one interception and was sacked four times in the process. He also finished the game with 61 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
Hills recorded 154 rushing yards on 19 attempts with one touchdown. He averaged 8.1 yards per carry.
Redshirt sophomore Henry Litwin and redshirt junior Mike Merhaut combined for 10 catches for 99 yards in the game while Wynn caught three passes for 42 yards and was the only Slippery Rock receiver to catch a touchdown pass.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said that the game was going to come down to defense and could stop the run game. Despite not giving up a point in the second half of play, The Rock defense still gave up 206 receiving yards in the game compared to Notre Dame giving up just 177.
Defensively, The Rock was led in part by redshirt sophomore Tim Vernick who had three tackles for loss and a total of 10 tackles. Senior Kyle Hall recorded a game-high 14 tackles while recording one interception and forcing one fumble.
Chapla punted four times for 190 yards, averaging 47.5 yards per punt. He was perfect on the day with one field goal and two PATs.
Notre Dame, while improving their record to 13-0, will now advance to NCAA Division II semifinals and will take on no 1. Valdosta State University (Ga.).