Defense prevails in Green and White matchup

Green holds off White for the 34-29 victory in SRU’s annual spring game

Published by Ryan Mosher, Date: April 24, 2024
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The Slippery Rock University football team hosted their annual Green and White spring game last Friday night at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.

The format of the game was played in an offense versus defense style matchup. The offense was in white, while the defense was in green. The defense was given 17 points at the beginning of each half, and the ball started at the White Team’s 35-yard line every time any points were scored.

Head Coach Shawn Lutz was happy to see the support from the White and Green faithful as they arrived in waves.

“The spring game, it is just good to see everybody here, playing nights,” Lutz said.

The Green Team defeated the White Team 34-29. The five quarterbacks who played completed 23-of-35 passes for 331 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, both of which were thrown by starting quarterback Brayden Long.

Lutz was not concerned by the lack of big plays by the offense, as most of the starters were replaced in the second half, and the plethora of weapons that the offense holds were kept close to the vest.

“We did not show a lot of excitement or big plays on offense that we wanted to, but we will get there,” Lutz said.

The biggest play from the offense came on the second play of the game when tight end Kam Kruzelyak received a lateral pass from Long and threw a 61-yard touchdown to Xander McClure.

“It was a good trick play they had set up, the defense did pretty good, they got after them, but the key is just getting this game in and seeing the fans back here and making this Rock night football game. That is exciting, that is fun,” Lutz said.

A few standouts for the offense were running backs Josiah Jordan and Eryck Moore-Watkins, as well as wide receivers John Sabo and Latrell Sutton, a transfer from Virginia Tech.

“JJ Jordan looked pretty good, but we keep our weapons kind of to ourselves, we know who our guys are going to be. I like our second tight end, I think Nassir Jones is going to be a pretty good football player for us. We got a lot of running backs, I mean Chris D’Or is Chris D’Or, he can be as good as you want. Defensively we looked pretty fast out there,” Lutz said.

Jordan had 42 rushing yards on five carries and 50 receiving yards on two catches for 92 all-purpose yards, which ranked second on the team behind John Sabo’s 96 yards, all of which were receiving.

Moore-Watkins had 23 yards on five carries and found the back of the endzone on one occasion.

Sutton had one catch for 27 yards, but it was an impressive high-point grab. He will look to play a big role in replacing star receiver Kyle Sheetz.

The defense played well the entire game, but the biggest standout from that unit was defensive back Joshua Hayes, who had two sacks and six tackles to go along with them. Todd Hill and Jake Baker had two sacks each as well.

Eddie Faulkner Ⅳ and Ethan Spann each came away with an interception.

Protection of the quarterback was the biggest issue for the offense, as they allowed 12 sacks. Since the quarterbacks were in non-contact jerseys, the whistle was blown before they were hit.

It is likely that not all of the sacks would be completed if they were played out, but the pressure was there regardless.

“We just have to get more development of our offensive line. You lose four offensive lineman, I am nervous about that. We have to get these guys better,” Lutz said.

Even with their struggles, Lutz believes the offensive line can improve before next season.

“The difference to see what kind of team we are really going to have is how hard they are going to work in the offseason. They got to kill their stuff every single day, they got to lift, they got to workout, we have to get guys up here in the summer. The biggest thing is just getting more together on that offensive line. That is our biggest weakness right now going into next season,” Lutz said.

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