Football rallies for first win

Published by adviser, Author: Brian Hepfinger - Sports Editor, Date: September 11, 2014
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The Slippery Rock University football team (1-0) overcame a 20-point deficit in the first half against Kutztown University (0-1) Saturday and scored 37 unanswered points to win the game.

SRU won 37-26. Kutztown scored 20 points in the first two quarters before SRU even scored. 

The Rock, however, turned the game around by scoring 13 points to close out the first half.

“Once the offense got into the end zone, I thought we could start to gain some momentum,” SRU head coach George Mihalik said. “In the locker room, there was no ranting or raving. There was a quiet confidence among the players.”

In his first start of his career, sophomore quarterback Zack Newsock threw his only touchdown in the second quarter when he found sophomore wide receiver Leroy McClain for a 19-yard touchdown pass. 

McClain had four catches for 41 yards to go along with one touchdown. 

Newsock finished the game going 26-49 with 297 yards to go along with one touchdown and one interception. 

Other targets for Newsock included sophomore wide receiver Drew Scales, who caught five passes for 94 yards, and also junior wide receiver Jaimire Dutrieulle, who caught four passes for 42 yards.

“As the game went on, I thought that he just got more confidence as the game went on,” Mihalik said. “He progressed very well throughout the game.”

Sophomore running back Shamar Greene said that Newsock had a solid first game.

“I feel like he handled himself well,” Greene said. “He made a lot of good decisions.”

Senior running back Teddy Blakeman opened up the second half with a 26-yard touchdown run to make the score 20-20 in the third quarter.

The Green and White controlled the fourth quarter. They scored 17 more points before Kutztown scored one more time. 

The fourth quarter featured a field goal by SRU junior kicker Mike Wainauskis and two touchdowns from Greene.

Wainauskis kicked three field goals in the game, including one from 27 yards, 23 yards, and 22 yards. 

He also kicked four extra-points. 

Greene finished the game with a career-high 195 yards and two touchdowns. 

He had a 10.3 yd/carry average. 

Greene was named to Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference honors for his performance.

“Shamar is an outstanding running back, and he’s becoming the complete running back,” Mihalik said. “He runs with speed, power, and he has great vision. He’s become a better blocker and receiver out of the back field.”

Even though they gave up 20 points in the first half, SRU’s defense turned it around in the second half. 

Senior linebacker Austin Miele led SRU with 12 tackles and one sack. 

He, like Greene, also earned the PSAC weekly honors. Miele was named the PSAC-West Defensive Players of the Week.

“Austin is the veteran on the defense, so he has to be the guy who is going to be a play-maker on defense,” Mihalik said. “We have seven new faces on the defensive front-seven, so until they get that game day experience, we need the veterans to step up.”

Sophomore linebacker Bob Vernick had 10 tackles, and freshman defensive end Marcus Martin had nine tackles. 

Freshman Defensive lineman Nick Dahlstrom and sophomore defensive back Kris Williams had five tackles each. 

The rest of SRU’s defense combined to make 28 tackles.

This win marks Mihalik’s 100th home win as the head coach of SRU. It is his 27th season.

Mihalik said that he owes a lot of home wins to SRU’s student section.

“There’s nothing like playing at home in our home stadium,” Mihalik said. “I really want to compliment the student crowd. That student section was fantastic, vocal and loud, and it plays a huge role in our home game atmosphere.”

Mihalik said that winning the first game of the season is something the team always wants to do.

“Until you get that first win, you always have that burden on your back,” Mihalik said. “So, if you get win number one, that pressure’s off and now you can focus and move on.”

SRU’s next game is against East Stroudsburg University on Sept. 13 in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania at 6:05 p.m.

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