By Bill Albright in Sports
October 27, 2011
If there is supposed to be a letdown following an emotional win, someone forgot to notify the nationally- ranked Slippery Rock University football team.
On the heels of an emotional 17-3 win over California (PA) last week, The Rock scored early and often as SRU defeated the Lock Haven University Bald Eagles, 48-27, before a Homecoming 2011 crowd of 2,536 at Hubert Jack Stadium Saturday afternoon.
While it was yet another loss for the Bald Eagles, head coach John Allen saw a number of positives his squad can take from the game.
“There is no quit on this team and that is one of the biggest things that I love about our players,” said Allen. “The things that we always fight against is the confidence factor and the execution part of the game, but hey con- tinue to play hard. I think the wakeup call for us was when we played Cal, a huge, physical football team. They (LHU players) came out of that game knowing they can play and be physical with any team in our league. That gave us a lot of confidence and it has been carrying over from game to game.”
For The Rock, the win was their seventh in eight starts as they remained perched on top of the PSAC-West standings with a per- fect 5-0 mark.
“We won and for us that was the key,” said SRU head coach Dr. George Mihalik. “We were able to remain undefeated (in the conference) and in first place. The one thing I saw about Lock Haven on the film is that they won’t quit and that definite- ly played true here today.”
As for key factors in the game, Mihalik felt that the Rock’s defensive play, espe- cially in the first half, was big for his squad.
“We shut down their running game and once you make an offense one-dimen- sional, it gives you a little edge,” Mihalik said.
If there was one negative for the Bald Eagles, it was in their ability to get off the field on third down. For the game, The Rock converted on 7 of 12 third-down oppor- tunities as the LHU defense would be stingy on first and second down before giving up a big play in third down.
“Slippery Rock is known for being a great running team and that is what they pride themselves in,” said Allen. “We did a good job against their run today and forced them to pass and they did an outstanding job in the passing game. We have to get better in our coverage in cer- tain situations so that we don’t give up those big plays. But regard- less, our guys hung in there and the positive is that we almost made it one-dimen- sional.”
While SRU only showed 76 yards rush- ing, quarterback Cody Endres threw the ball all over Jack Stadium, finishing with 397 yards and four touch- downs. Endres’ favorite target was Devin Goda who had a career day by hauling in nine balls for 225 yards and four touch- downs.
“When we went to a three-receiver set, they (LHU defense) were stacking two linebackers and a safety,” explained Goda. “Pretty much there was nobody on topofmeandIknew the middle of the field was always going to be open. Coach had a good game plan to try and get the ball to me in the middle down- field and as it turned out, it worked well.”
The Rock held a 13- 0 lead at halftime on a pair of field goals by Kurt Brackman and a 38-yard TD reception by Goda. However, if there was a game- breaker or momentum changer in the con- test, it might have come on the third play following Goda’s first TD catch.
LHU quarterback Jarryd Burkett appeared to have com- pleted a 47-yard pitch- and-catch with Brandon Brader to the Rock 20, but a little yellow piece of laun- dry at the Haven 33- yard line nullified the play and set the Bald Eagles back to their own 23.
“The game is about momentum swings and that was a huge play at the time,” said Allen. “It probably would have put us down there inside the 30 and then we could have run our offense that we wanted to use down in that area. We were able to do that later in the game, but you never know what might have happened if it would have been 13-7 instead of 13-0 going in at halftime.”
After a Marc Olivio interception of a Endres pass at the LHU 6-yard line on the final play of the first half kept the Rock lead at 13-0, the bottom fell out of things for LHU as Slippery Rock scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half for a 34-0 SRU lead, and from there, The Rock never looked back. One big positive for LHU in the loss came in the final 18-plus minutes of the game as the Bald Eagles kept battling until the final whistle, outscor- ing The Rock by a 28- 14 margin during the
span to set the final. If you win a game by 21 points, a coach might have to search far and wide to find a disappointing or nega- tive aspect of the game for his club. However, for Mihalik, that was no problem. It was in the penalty department where SRU was flagged 15 times for 141 yards.
“I didn’t know at the time how many penalties we had, but I did know there were far too many,” said Mihalik. “For the game we had 15 penalties for 141 yards and that is embarrassing. You just can’t play that way in any game and expect to be successful so we (SRU coaches) definitely have to address that issue.”
Doing the scoring honors for the Bald Eagles with touch- downs in the game were Jay Hartman with a pair of TD receptions from his former high school (Indian Valley) team- mate Kratzer covering 6 and seven yards. For the game, Hartman finished with 10 catches for 97 yards and the pair of scores, Kratzer coming off the bench to complete 15 of 20 attempts for 157 yards and three scores.
After another Goda TD reception to com- plete The Rock’s scor- ing, the Bald Eagle special teams got into the act. Ian Smith blocked and recovered a SRU punt and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown before Kratzer tossed his third TD pass of the game, a 10-yard effort to Josh Livelsberger with 32 ticks left on the score- board clock.
“Give them (LHU) a lot of credit because despite what the score happened to be, they kept coming back,” said Mihalik. “They deserve a lot of credit because they contin- ued to play hard right to the end and they certainly didn’t play like an 0-7 team so my hat is off to them.”
Despite the loss, the Bald Eagles will live to play another day as they face Edinboro Saturday at Sox Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
“That is the great thing about it right now is that we have another opportunity,” said Allen. “We talked about that earlier in the season because you only get so many. If we can take the pos- itives from this week, we have another opportunity to go out and get better again. For us, we have to play games to get bet- ter so we can learn more about how we need to prepare and how we need to play physically in these games. Now we have to prepare to face Edinboro and see what we need to do there.”