Every ranked team is due for an upset or at least a scare once a year. This year, Edinboro proved to be that scare for Rock football.
The Nov. 5 fight lasted all 60 minutes of the game, and at the end, The Rock escaped with an ugly 28-21 win. Edinboro had been known for pulling out upsets that disrupted the course of a season. They pulled off the shocking win over Indiana (Pa.) on the road one season ago and were looking to do the same thing in Slippery Rock.
The Rock looked to get off to a quick start early to avoid just that.
An interception by Jacob Williams on the first drive of the game set the tone on the defensive end for Slippery Rock. From there, it took just five plays for Chris Wells to find the endzone and put the green and white up by seven.
Edinboro answered right back. Issac Bernard dropped a dot to Tha Standfield that evened the game up. Slippery Rock’s offense now had the pressure on them, but that pressure proved to be too much on the drive. SRU went just 17 yards in eight plays and handed the ball back to the Fighting Scots.
The Rock’s next drive saw Noah Grover throw his first of two interceptions in the game. The ball was returned 31 yards by Avery Ennis. Less than a minute later, Edinboro was up by a touchdown on the No. 10 team in the nation.
The lead didn’t last long.
Chris D’Or made sure of that. Of the 75 yards that Slippery Rock gained on the following drive, D’Or rushed for 56 of them, and the last rush was a one-yard rush that saw D’Or somehow find his way into the endzone despite being in a crowd.
“Chris isn’t the biggest guy, but he can get vertical, and you’ve seen what he can do when he gets going,” Slippery Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said.
The Rock did not take long to take back the lead. Kyle Sheets said hello after he caught a seven-yard touchdown pass. Just like that, The Rock had a 21-14 lead.
It’s important to note that SRU could have walked into halftime with a 24-14 lead, but DJ Opsatnik missed a field goal wide left as time expired in the second quarter. Instead of a two-score game, the contest was still wide open.
That proved to be crucial because neither team could get on the board until Grover threw his second interception of the game. This time, Toby Cline took it all the way. A 21-21 game had things looking bleak for The Rock.
Two straight drives ended quickly for Slippery Rock, and the Fighting Scots had a few chances themselves. Some trickery put the game right back in the green and white’s favor. Jawon Hall took a reverse 41 yards, and the next play, D’Or walked into the endzone from 18 yards out completely untouched.
Even then, Edinboro still had multiple shots to tie the game. But The Rock defense was able to tighten up and recorded two interceptions in a row, the second of which came Brandon Bischof. It sealed The Rock’s share of a fourth straight PSAC West (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) title.
“You have to give credit to Edinboro—it just shows you that in football when there are momentum shifts and teams get excited, [things happen],” Lutz said.
It’ll be IUP who represents the West in the title game. The Rock will return home for Senior day against Kutztown and will look to punch their ticket to the NCAA playoffs once again.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to just take the win, and I’m excited that we clinched a fourth straight PSAC West title,” Lutz said. “But we know next week is for a playoff bid.”