SLIPPERY ROCK — Strategy or faith — Slippery Rock coach Eli Christy chose the latter.
Facing a 4th-and-1 at his 16-yard line and clinging to a two-point lead with 1:43 to play, Christy — serving as acting head coach with Larry Wendereusz still under COVID-19 quarantine — originally sent out the punting unit.
Then he took a timeout, decided to go for the first down and the Rockets killed the remaining time for a key 35-33 District 10 Class 3A region football victory Friday night at Troy-Alan Stadium.
“I had a change of heart and called the timeout,” Christy admitted. “We preach all the time to these kids about having faith in each other and the team.
“I had to show faith and confidence in them. Put the offense back on the field and let's do this thing ... Let's play to win instead of playing not to lose.”
And the Rockets won — without Wendereusz, starting quarterback William Mokel or starting running back Brett Galcik. Mokel and Galcik both got hurt late in last week's loss against Hickory. Shane Thompson, another starting back, is already lost for the season due to injury.
Ryan Montgomery, a senior, took a handoff from sophomore quarterback Eli Anderson and was bottled up at the line of scrimmage, then dragged a couple of tacklers two yards for a first down.
Montgomery then broke free for runs of 32 and 50 yards, the latter run a sure touchdown before Montgomery gave himself up at the Sharon 1-yard line.