Rock football claims PSAC-West title

SRU football clinches the PSAC-West with win over Clarion University

Published by Aidan Treu, Date: November 2, 2023
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Slippery Rock football continued their dominant season with a 42-14 victory over Clarion University last Saturday at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.

The White and Green took a shutout into the fourth quarter, scored three touchdowns in one quarter, had two receivers over 100 yards receiving and punted just once. There is not much more you can ask for in a performance from all three phases.

“510 yards of total offense, the defense was lights out,” Slippery Rock coach Shawn Lutz said.

The game did not start as planned. The Rock did not even take a lead until the second quarter after both sides were shut out through the first.

Clarion completed an impressive defensive stand on SRU’s first drive. From the Clarion two, the White and Green tried four straight times to punch the ball in and were stopped.

It was not until two drives later that they first found the end zone. Logan Ramper hauled in a 10-yard pass from Brayden Long to take a lead they would never give up.

“What upsets me is we gave them stuff. We didn’t get in on offense on that first series, we gave up a fake punt, I didn’t like that,” Lutz said. “Besides that, I think we played a pretty complete game.”

The Rock would score twice more in the second quarter in their most productive 15-minute period of the afternoon. The first came on a pass to Kyle Sheets and the second a pass to Kam Kruzelyak. Long was well on his way to a massive performance.

The quarterback has been doing this all year, but he will not let you give him credit without sharing the praise with his teammates.

“It’s pick and choose out there with my receivers. I just try to expose the defense any way I can,” Long said.

The junior signal caller was not sacked once in the game. He was not under much pressure at all for that matter.

“Zero sacks shows you right there,” Long said. “Those guys have my back every snap.”

The second half was a continuation of the second quarter, although not quite to the same extreme.

The Rock scored a touchdown on three of their four second-half drives, meticulously killing the clock along the way. Their only drive that did not end with a score ended with a kneel to finish the game.

The third quarter saw a pair of rushing touchdowns, one from Long and one from Khalid Dorsey. Dorsey finished as the team’s leading rusher with 60 yards and a score on the ground. Chris D’Or wasn’t too far behind with 48 yards.

Clarion fought back some in the fourth quarter, but the game had already been decided. A pair of Clarion passing touchdowns were answered by another Sheets score and the final score was set at 42-14.

Sheets hauled in nine passes four 106 yards and two touchdowns in yet another great game but was not the leading receiver. That was Cohen Russell, at least from a yardage standpoint, with 135.

Russel’s impressive stretch of play has moved him up to 693 yards on the season. Sheets still leads the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) with 893. His 13 touchdowns are also first, almost doubling the second-place total of 7.

Even with the undefeated record, the White and Green have managed to keep getting better. Their most recent improvement has been the run defense.

“One thing I’m really proud of is we stopped their running attack,” Lutz said.

It has been a point of focus in practice. Clarion has been one of the best rushing offenses in the PSAC this season, averaging over 170 rushing yards per game. The Rock’s defense held them to 84 yards on 27 carries which comes out to 3.1 yards per carry.

“Early in the week, we focused on the complex run game that they had. Our main focus was stopping the run,” Rock defensive lineman Munchie Johnson said. “We just got back to playing Slippery Rock football, and it’s going to continue.”

Slippery Rock football is 9-0 overall, 6-0 in conference, and a win at Edinboro University this Saturday away from taking an undefeated record into the PSAC Championship. Lutz will not be taking his foot off the gas pedal.

“The theme next week is secure home-field advantage throughout the entire playoffs,” Lutz said. “It’s hard to be undefeated, I’m trying to stay undefeated.”

With the PSAC-West clinching win, The Rock will officially play at Kutztown University in the PSAC Championship on November 11 at noon.

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