Injuries, a slow start and overall sloppy play doomed the Slippery Rock football team on their road trip into Erie, where they fell to the Edinboro fighting Scots 49-39, bringing their season record down to 6-2.
“These guys gotta know whats at stake,” Slippery Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said. “We just gotta find ways to get better. It seems like we get everybody’s best.”
Slippery Rock was without two team captains, senior guard Ian Park and senior wide receiver Milly Raye.
“Anytime you miss those guys, it’s always tough,” Lutz said. “That’s our best offensive lineman and Milly is our best skill guy, but it’s no excuse; that’s not why we lost the game.”
In a flip of the script from last week, SRU quickly found themselves down by two scores after Edinboro completed a slant to a wide-open wide receiver for their first touchdown, and then tacked on another after Edinboro scored another long touchdown; The Rock trailed by multiple scores for the first time since facing California (Pa.) in week five.
Slippery Rock finally answered when senior quarterback Tanner Garry found senior tight end Brian McNally in the end zone for his eighth catch and third touchdown catch of the year, cutting the deficit to 14-7.
“All of the tight ends, We definitely fill different roles,” Sophomore tight end Dylan Stapleton said. “If one of us makes a play, we are all about that.”
Garry broke two Slippery Rock records on the day, for attempted passes (61) and completions (41). Garry also had three touchdowns, one interception and 488 yards passing, his second-most ever for the Green and White. Garry also ran for 31 yards, his most ever.
Edinboro never went away as they answered right back, using a bit of trickery and running a statue of liberty play for their third touchdown of the day to again put the Rock down by 14.
SRU answered back quickly with an Isiah Neely touchdown run, putting SRU back within one score.
For the first time all day, Slippery Rock’s defense held, and the Rock was given the ball back with 2:57. until halftime. Garry again capitalized on the chance, throwing a fade to senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson in the very back of the end zone to tie the game, 21-21
On Edinboro’s next drive, it seemed as though the wheels were falling off for the Scots, when quarterback Jake Sisson threw his first pick of the day to freshman linebacker Dylan Whiteman, his first career interception.
Edinboro would make up for their mistake, however, and picked off Garry with 10 seconds remaining in the half. With only twelve yards to go after the interception return and a sideline interference penalty on SRU, Edinboro found the end zone again, making the score 28-21 at the half.
Officiating became a concern, as both sidelines were hot and contentious with the officiating crew(teams combined for 207 penalty yards). After a few questionable calls in the first half, an unknown Slippery Rock coach was flagged for ‘threatening an official’ while walking off the field into halftime.
Despite the distractions, Garry and his offense found their rhythm on their first drive of the second half, driving 79 yards downfield but were stopped at the one, prompting a field goal from freshman kicker Jake Chapla, who brought the rock within four points, 28-24.
SRU attempted to catch the Scots off-guard with an onside kick after the drive that failed, handing Edinboro the ball at midfield. They capitalized on the mistake and went up 35-24.
Things only got bleaker for the Rock. After Chapla pinned Edinboro at their own one-yard line, Walter Fletcher broke free for a 98-yard touchdown run, 42-24 Edinboro.
Quitting is not something that Garry knows, and it showed on the next drive when he found Johnson for the second time in the endzone, cutting the lead to 42-31. Johnson finished with 192 yards and two touchdowns.
SRU continued to show resolve, marching down the field again and scoring on a freshman running back Chacar Berry handoff. Berry and Neely combined for 80 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Slippery Rock then attempted the two-point conversion, a successful shovel pass to sophomore tight end Zach Cirillo. It was Cirillo’s fifth career catch, and first points scored.
Saturday marked a good day for the three-headed hydra of SRU tight ends, with McNally scoring a touchdown, Cirillo stretching to complete a two-point conversion and Stapleton catching a career-high eight for 89.
“With Milly out, It’s a next-guy-up kind of deal,” Stapleton said. “I really gave it my all out there today and just tried to do everything I could for this team.”
Edinboro never took their foot off of the gas, as they threw another deep ball for a touchdown, this time over the shoulder of sophomore defensive back EJ Jackson, playing in only his tenth career game.
Slippery Rock was able to put together a drive but again faltered inside the red zone. Chapla attempted another field goal, but missed for only the second time this season (excluding blocks).
Holding a ten point lead, Edinboro only needed to convert a few first downs to burn out the clock and secure their upset, a 49-39 victory over the no. 17 Rock.
“I give Edinboro credit, we had our chances today but just didn’t make any plays,” Lutz said.
Slippery will try to get back on their feet and get back the milk jug this Saturday when they play rival Clarion at home for the milk jug trophy. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Mihalik Thompson Stadium.
“We’re gonna come out with more fire under us,” Stapleton said.