Slippery Rock football won their first regular season game 42-21 this past Saturday when the team traveled to Kentucky State to face the Thorobreds.
Redshirt senior quarterback Tanner Garry, who just recently earned the starting position, ended up earning Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Offensive Player of the Week honors after completing 22 of 34 pass attempts for 390 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Saturday was Garry’s first collegiate start and first career start since he left high school in 2011.
“To be named player of the week in the conference, his collegiate start, it is just awesome for Tanner,” head coach Shawn Lutz said. “You’re going to rally behind what your quarterback can do for you and I think guys now know that Tanner can make the plays he needs to when he needs.”
Three of Garry’s touchdowns went to senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson who managed to haul in 12 catches for 231 yards in the process. Redshirt senior running back Isiah Neely made the only rushing touchdown of the day while gaining 54 yards and averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
The Rock first jumped out to a 28-0 lead part way through the 3rd quarter on Saturday. The first touchdown came in the first quarter when Garry threw a three-yard touchdown to Johnson to cap off a five play drive. More scoring followed in the second quarter for the Green and White as senior tight end Brian McNally snatched a seven-yard touchdown pass from Garry after 10 play, 71-yard drive.
Later that quarter, Johnson caught his second touchdown of the day when Garry threw the deep ball for a 46-yard touchdown catch to put The Rock up 21-0 at halftime. Early in the third quarter, Neely finished off a nine play, 65-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run to put SRU up 28 to nothing. Kentucky State was able to get on the scoreboard late in the third with a touchdown pass to wrap-up a 12 play, 56-yard drive, but missed the extra point attempt.
The Thorobreds got the ball back early in the first after stuffing The Rock offense. They then managed another touchdown drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Kentucky went for two points after the touchdown and succeeded to cut the lead in half at 28-14. The Rock offense responded the next drive with a touchdown of their own on Johnson’s final score of the day when he hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass from Garry.
“He (Marcus Johnson) is not the fastest,” Lutz said. “But he sells his routes like hes gliding, and then all of a sudden he plants and drives at the last minute.”
On The Rock’s next possession redshirt senior wide receiver Milly Raye made two defenders miss with a highlight real spin move for a 57-yard touchdown pass to put the Green and White up 42-14. The final score of the day came on the following kick-off when the Thorobreds returned the ball 93 yards for a touchdown to make the final score of 42-21.
The passing game was dominant throughout the game, with 403 total passing yards and five touchdowns through the air. The ground game lagged behind compared to the passing game, while the team managed just 84 yards, but one touchdown on the ground.
“You know I don’t want to make any excuses,” Lutz said. “Usually when the conditions are bad you shouldn’t be able to throw the ball much because you know you gotta plant your feet with the quarterback and the receivers.”
The Rock had 23 first downs, while going 8-13 on third down, but only possessed the ball for 21:41, compared to Kentucky’s 38:19.
This weekend the team comes home to take on West Chester University (1-0) on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.