Slippery Rock University quarterback Roland Rivers III continued his Harlon Hill push at Seton Hill.
Rivers led The Rock to a 55-14 victory over the Griffins at Offutt Field Saturday by accounting for 423 total yards, 85% of SRU’s total offense, and five touchdowns.
No. 10 SRU (4-0, 1-0 PSAC) benefited from a fourth consecutive 300 yard and three touchdown game from its senior quarterback. Rivers completed 14 of his 20 attempts for 301 passing yards and three touchdowns.
With a running back yet to emerge from a crowded SRU backfield, Rivers took a season-high 19 carries for 122 yards and two more touchdowns.
A third of the way into the season, Rivers leads all of Division II football in total offense per game (414.5), passing efficiency (240.4), points responsible for (132), passing touchdowns (19) and passing yards per attempt (12.85). SRU has the No. 1 scoring offense in the country (55.0), too.
Initially lagging behind the offense, The Rock defense has rebounded after allowing 37 points against Wayne State to start the season.
Over the past three games, SRU has allowed only 33 points. Ranking fifth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in points allowed per game, the front four has stepped up with a conference second-best in sacks (17).
Junior defensive end Chad Kuhn, who picked up two more sacks against the Griffins, leads the PSAC in sacks with 5.5 through four games.
The Rock defense made an initial stand against the Griffins on the game’s first drive.
The Griffins lost six yards on its initial drive, a three and out, and the ensuing drive for SRU only took 27 seconds to reach the end zone.
Rivers connected with junior wide receiver Cinque Sweeting on a 30-yard touchdown strike. Sweeting, a transfer from Seton Hill, made the most of his only reception against his former team.
SRU never trailed in the contest, as two field goals, 26 and 44 yards, from senior kicker Jake Chapla and rushing touchdowns from Rivers and senior running back Charles Snorweah extended the lead to 27-0 at halftime.
The Griffins (0-3, 0-1 PSAC) got on the board midway through the third quarter, but another rushing touchdown from Rivers quickly followed.
The quick play offense SRU offensive coordinator Adam Neugebauer has pushed this season was on full display late in the game as Rivers hit junior receivers Jermaine Wynn Jr. and Henry Litwin for 44- and 22-yard touchdowns to complete sub-minute drives late in the game.
With two more field goals and seven extra points, Chapla is now three points away from Stan Kennedy’s record for all-time scoring in Rock football history. With 315 points, Chapla is only 46 points away from the PSAC record.
Rivers’ three touchdown passes pushed him past Nigel Barksdale for third-most in Rock history with 47. With 14 more touchdown passes, Rivers will pass Nate Crookshank from the most in program history.
With another strong game from Rivers, the Rock offense continues to pace Division II football.
Litwin and Wynn both hauled in a touchdown and racked up 100 receiving yards for the third time in four weeks.
Litwin is tied for second in D-II football with 7 touchdown grabs while Wynn and Sweeting are tied for fifth with sixth. Litwin and Wynn both rank inside the top 10 in receiving yards in the nation, with 450 and 447, respectively.
However, the run game continued to be a weakness against the Griffins. Without an established lead running back through four weeks, tougher teams in the PSAC will drop men in coverage and dare SRU to run the ball.
With 122 yards against the Griffins, Rivers leads SRU in rushing attempts (41), yards (244) and touchdowns (3). Snorweah leads Rock running backs with 37 attempts for 124 yards and three touchdowns.
With one more game before a pivotal PSAC-West matchup against Indiana University (Pa.), Lutz said he would like to have a lead running back established by that game.
Even with IUP on the horizon, SRU will play Mercyhurst University Saturday at Saxon Stadium in a PSAC-West clash.
Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.