One week after The Rock dropped their first PSAC west to Indiana (Pa.), they returned home looking to get back on track. It took them all of 13 seconds to do that, thanks to Jawon Hall taking the opening kickoff 97 yards to the house.
“I liked the way we started the game with [Jawon Hall] taking it to the house, that’s the way you want to start a football game and we did that,” Lutz said.
One of the biggest challenges was making sure that The Rock could get momentum on their side. Against Indiana (Pa.), they could only keep it in spurts. Against Mercyhurst, they were able to do that much better than the week prior.
After the kick return, The Rock didn’t score a point again for a little over 16 minutes of gameplay. On their first offensive, however, Grover threw his third interception in two weeks.
Grover redeemed himself the next drive, as he led a 20-play, 89-yard drive that took up nine minutes of gametime. The style of play is something Rock football fans are not used to seeing. Long drives have never been The Rock’s thing, but neither has running the ball more on a drive than passing.
Yet that’s exactly what happened throughout the Mercyhurst game. Although Slippery Rock drove nearly the entire length of the field, they were held to just three points on the drive.
The Lakers offense answer to Slippery Rock’s long drive was a three-play drive, that went negative yards. Just like that, the ball was handed back to the green and white.
They showed a glimpse of what they can do on offense if they want to it, as they took the ball 81 yards in five plays. The drive ended with Grover hitting Kyle Sheets for six.
After going down by 17, the Lakers were able to chip at the lead with a field goal that drew them to within 14 points. That score would hold until halftime.
Mercyhurst fought back as soon as the whistle blew to begin the second half. Something Lutz respected and anticipated coming into the half.
“It’s difficult to be on top of things and be at your best at all moments,” Lutz said. “But I’ve got to hand it to Mercyhurst, because they never stop going and they played very hard tonight, and they just kept coming back.”
Every time The Rock put up a good drive in the half, it seemed that the Lakers responded. After scoring to begin the half and get back to only seven points down, Slippery Rock once again played the long game.
A five-minute drive culminated with Hall crossing the plane off of a Grover pass from 16 yards out. The score put Slippery Rock up 24-10, but two minutes later Mercyhurst’s Dustin Shoaf scored on a one-yard run.
A lost fumble on The Rock’s next drive had the Lakers poised to tie the game. Starting from Slippery Rock’s 27, they had a golden opportunity. It was squandered with a four-play drive that turned the ball back over shut the game down for good.
“That fumble, if they got that score, it’s a tie ball game, and they had been coming down the field and scoring,” Lutz said. “So it was crucial for us to get that stop.”
The last score of the game came Max Maciejewski on a shovel pass from Grover. It was the final nail in the Laker’s coffin.
Lutz feels they still need to find their complete footing.
“We’ve played well in spurts, but it’s because we’ve turned over the football,” Lutz said. “If we don’t turn it over, we’re talking about a completely different team.”