Every parking lot on the SRU campus was full of people as The Rock welcomed home alumni from all over. All the festivities led to one thing: the opening kickoff of Slippery Rock’s football game against Gannon.
Gannon was sitting atop the PSAC West standing with Indiana (Pa.) as they walked into Mihalik-Thompson Stadium on Saturday, but that wouldn’t last very long as The Rock was able to dismantle them in a 40-14 win.
The 0-0 tie didn’t break in the game until there were just two minutes left in the first quarter of play, however. A shanked punt by Gannon’s John Oliveria set The Rock up nicely at the Golden Knights’ 31-yard line.
From there, The Rock used five and a half minutes to go only 28 yards. Gannon stopped Chris D’Or, who recorded yet another 100-yard rushing performance. The goal line stand led to DJ Opsatnik kicking a chip shot field goal to give Slippery Rock a 3-0 advantage.
Gannon’s answer was a drive that went just 20 yards and handed the ball right back to The Rock. But after a quick drive of their own, Slippery Rock put their defense back on the field. Eager to get off the field, The Rock defense recorded a three and out highlighted by a Jeff Marx sack.
The defensive line was dominant in Slippery Rock’s win, something that head coach Shawn Lutz isn’t too shocked about. But the additions of D.J. Adediwura, Munchie Johnson and Cottrell Hatchett among others has helped give Slippery Rock an upper hand so far this season.
“The approach that these guys take is that they don’t care who gets credit, they stay close,” Lutz said. “I think we get pressure because of the way we do things in practice, with the way both the offensive and defensive lines play, you’d think it was a game because of their intensity.”
A touchdown was finally put on the board when Noah Grover hit Bryce Profitt in the endzone for a 21-yard touchdown. Profitt, who transferred in from the University of Akron, recorded his first touchdown reception with Slippery Rock and gave the Green and White a 10-0 lead.
Gannon’s offense was still unable to get anything going as they had another three-and-out. Slippery Rock started to impose their will after that. A nine play, 66-yard drive was capped off by Isiah Edwards’ one-yard rushing touchdown. It was his fourth of the season.
Going into the half, The Rock held a 17-0 lead. It didn’t take long for them to add onto it when the whistle was blown to restart the game.
D’Or took the ball 61 yards on the first play of the second half, and he didn’t look back. The touchdown all but put the game away and there was still 29 minutes and 40 seconds to play in the game.
“Gannon tried to take away our pass game, which is great for us because we have such a good run game,” Grover said.
Gannon fought back on their first drive to bring the game back to within 17. Kory Curtis found Branse Stanley for a 22-yard touchdown strike. The next time points were put on the board, it came in the form of a safety.
The Rock then turned around and put seven more points on the board with a Grover pass going to Max Maciejewski to put them up 33-7.
Tim Smith put The Rock’s final points on the board when the fourth quarter started. But Gannon had the final point of the day with a KeJohn Batiste touchdown reception from Curtis.
Now, The Rock is set to travel to California (Pa.) on Saturday, as the Vulcans will try to get revenge on them for last year’s loss- one that ended their season.