The phrase “Rock by 90” can be heard and seen all the time around the Slippery Rock University campus. It’s used to show pride in teams around campus, but especially the football team. On Saturday, that phrase was almost used literally.
The battle for the Milk Jug has been dominated by Slippery Rock in the past. This year was no different. The Rock won the game 75-0 against a Clarion team that came in winless. The last time the Milk Jug stayed with Clarion was in 2016 after they beat Slippery Rock 27-23. In the four games since then, the combined score has been 168-28, in favor of The Rock.
Clarion got the ball to start the game, and gained yards from a roughing the passer call to get a first down. This kept opening drive alive. The following play they had an 11-yard rush, which resulted in back-to-back first downs. After those first downs, they would have three more snaps before giving the ball to Slippery Rock.
It took all of seven plays for The Rock to drive 72-yards. The first play was a 38-yard pass to tight end Max Maciejewski, who made his presence felt in his first game back from an injury. It was capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by Tim Smith. Those scores were followed by a 77-yard punt return touchdown by Jermaine Wynn Jr. and a one-yard rushing touchdown from Tim Smith.
“Having Max back was huge, he is a big tight end that can stretch a defense and you can put him at slot receiver or a three-man surface tight end,” head coach Shawn Lutz said. “With him back that gives us another weapon.”
Maciejewski comes back and joins an already strong offensive group. The team has seemed to find its footing in the past few games, as they are led by quarterback Andrew Koester. Koester has been named PSAC offensive player of the week twice in a row.
“Since that interception [against Seton Hill on the first drive] he’s just been killing it and he’s probably the hottest quarterback in the PSAC right now,” Lutz said.
Koester has had ten touchdown passes in the past two games, after recording just six in the first three. All five of his touchdown passes came in the second quarter to five different receivers. The first came on the opening play of the second quarter, when Koester hit Wynn for a 36-yard score.
Cinque Sweeting got on the board for the third time this season with a five-yard reception. Maciejewski scored after he found himself wide open on the right sideline for another 36-yard score. In his first game back, Maciejewski had exactly 100-yards receiving on just five catches. Kyle Sheets got in the endzone, and then finally Henry Litwin made a visit there as well.
At the half, The Rock led by a score of 55-0. These 55 points scored nearly matched the teams game high coming into the game. The most points they had put up previously was 57 in their win against Lock Haven.
While the offense dominated in the passing aspect, Lutz still believes that there is a lot to work on when it comes to running the ball. While the Green and White finished with 146-yards on the ground, the brunt of it came in the second half when starters were pulled. 38 of those yards came from defensive back Devin Sims. Only 58 of them from the two most featured backs this season, Chris D’or and Smith.
On the other hand, the defense was finally able to get their first shutout of the season. They had come close in their first two home games, but towards the end of both games, East Stroudsburg and Lock Haven had been able to break through.
The shutout was kept intact by the young guys that were sent in to finish out the game, and a Dashaun Wright interception insured that Clarion wouldn’t get three points on the board. The Rock has outscored their last three opponents 173-24.
The Rock has been dominant in their first two PSAC West matchups of the year, but there’s lost of season left. The next time The Rock will play at Mihalik-Thompson stadium they will face off with rival, Indiana (Pa.).