See you next year, Clarion

Published by Tyler Howe, Date: November 5, 2022
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It had been three years since Clarion had scored a point on The Rock going into their PSAC West matchup this past Saturday. They’ll have to wait another year in order to have another opportunity to do so after a 31-0 shutout.

Clarion came into the game looking for some revenge on Slippery Rock after they embarrassed them 75-0. That was The Rock’s largest margin of victory and they just seemed to score at will. Clarion was one of the first teams introduced to Noah Grover, who got in late in the second half, but the score was already out of hand.

This year, they had the opportunity to strike before the other team. The first two plays gained a combined 19 yards. A first down on their first pass of the day. Things were looking like Clarion could drive down and get on the board.

A false start ended that quickly. They picked up right where they left off a year prior. The ball was handed to The Rock offense for the first time. Nine plays and three minutes later, Chris D’Or punched the ball in from one yard out. 7-0 Rock. That score would continue to increase.

Clarion got the ball back and drove down the field. Once again, they looked as if they were going to possibly get some points on the board. But they, just like everyone else, knew exactly what was going to happen if they settled for three points. The Rock offense showed what they can do just a week prior. So, the Golden Eagles chose to keep their offense on the field on fourth down, just two yards from the line to gain. But the story of the season has been The Rock’s defensive line and their stellar play.

D.J. Adediwura let Clarion’s mobile quarterback, Zach Benedek gain just one yard. The ball was turned over and handed right back to a hot offense.

Clarion wasn’t going to just lay down, though. On three plays, The Rock lost two yards leaving them with a fourth and 12. The Golden Eagles were given another shot to tie the game up. Six plays got them only 16 yards though. It also milked three minutes off the clock.

The Rock followed their lead when it came to time management.

“It was probably one of the quickest games we’ve had in my time that I’ve been here, the game was over within like two hours and 15 minutes,” head coach Shawn Lutz said. “They tried to limit possessions, but their kids played really hard and they did a really good job.”

Slippery Rock started their next drive at their own 11-yard line. They milked over five minutes of game time. The drive featured Kyle Sheets getting four targets and two receptions. The first of which went for 38 yards. The second was a 14-yard grab that went for his first of two touchdowns on the day.

Sheets has become unstoppable in the past few weeks of play. Against Clarion, he made nine receptions that went for 206 yards.

Clarion got the ball back but handed it away fairly quickly. That gave The Rock nearly five minutes to work with. They drove with ease. But came away with no points. They carried a 14-0 lead into the break.

The Rock came right out and was able to get down the field with quick strikes. Two of which went to Sheets, but the touchdown pass went to Gavyn Barnes. The rest of the third quarter was silent from both sides. Each would have the ball and have it for an extended period of time, but neither could score.

As soon as the final quarter opened, The Rock went on an eight-play drive that took another four minutes off the clock. The drive ended with DJ Opsatnik nailing a field goal to give them a 24-0 lead.

The Rock’s next drive featured the last points of the game, with Grover and Sheets connecting for another 14-yard touchdown. The score gave them a 31-0 lead. That score stood as the final score and as the time ran out, The Rock celebrated yet another win over the Golden Eagles.

In the past eight quarters of play against Clarion, The Rock has outscored them 106-0.

It has become second nature, but perhaps the best part is etching the score with a goose egg right next to Clarion’s name.

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