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Slippery Rock defense shuts down Hickory, 28-0, in D-10 semifinal

Sam Schwartz (23) runs the ball for a Slippery Rock touchdown during the Rockets’ 28-0 Distrct 10 semifinal win over Hickory on Friday night. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle 11/11/22
Inflicting pain in the rain

NEW WILMINGTON — The pouring rain could not dampen the mood amongst Slippery Rock High’s football players following Friday’s District 10 Class 3A semifinal against Hickory.

The Rockets had just dismantled the Hornets, 28-0, at Wilmington High School’s Greyhound Stadium to advance to the district championship game for the second straight year.

Players were congratulating each other, shouting and sharing the moment with fans who braved the nasty weather.

Lucas Allison, left and Sam Schwartz (23) jump and celebrate a Slippery Rock touchdown in the Rockets’ 28-0 District 10 semifinal win over Hickory Friday night. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle 11/11/22

A dominating defensive effort — just 149 yards allowed — was the foundation for the win.

“I just gave Coach (Eli) Christy (defensive coordinator) a hug,” said Slippery Rock head coach Larry Wendereusz. “I think that’s an unbelievable performance to handle that offense. To leave a goose egg on the board, that’s impressive.”

The Rockets (7-4) will face rival Grove City, which rallied to defeat Sharon, 22-21, in the championship game at a date, site and time to be determined.

Fittingly, it was a defensive play that turned into the first score of the game.

Facing a 3rd-and-9 from his own 30, Hickory quarterback Zander Telesz rolled to the left, where he fumbled the ball after being hit by Rockets’ defensive lineman Braiden Reich. Several players had a shot at recovering the ball, which bounced backwards on the soaked turf.

Linebacker Brett Galcik finally scooped the ball up at the 10 and ran into the end zone for a touchdown.

“That was a huge play,” said Reich, who, along with his teammates on defense, practiced all week in preparation for Hickory’s motion. “They tried some different things, but I don’t think we were surprised by anything they threw at us.”

“That fumble was probably due to the rain, but other than that, it was Slippery Rock,” said Hickory coach Bill Dungee. “They just kicked our butts up front.”

While Slippery Rock finished the game with 171 yards on the ground, only 23 of those came in the first half. It was short to intermediate passes off the right arm of William Mokel that kept the chains moving.

He was 6-of-6 for 70 yards in the first two quarters, including a nine-yard touchdown pass to Sam Schwartz late in the first half. Nick Kingerski’s second of four PATs in the game gave Slippery Rock a 14-0 lead at the break.

“We said coming in that we still had to throw the ball,” said Wendereusz. “That’s a tough defense to run against and we had to spread them out.”

Hickory (5-6), which gained just 37 yards in the opening half, mounted a drive late in the third quarter. Beginning at their own 10, the Hornets marched to Slippery Rock’s 41. But on a 4th-and-12 play, they tried to surprise the Rockets with a designed run with Telesz, who was stopped by Reich after gaining just a yard.

Hickory starting quarterback Logan Woods, who passed for over 1,500 yards this season, left the game several times with injury. He did not complete a pass for positive yardage Friday until less than eight minutes remained in the game.

Meanwhile, the Rockets’ ground game began picking up huge chunks of yards.

Sal Mineo (eight yards) and Maddox Allen (27 yards) both scored rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Allen finished the game with 77 yards and Mineo added 56.

Slippery Rock and Grove City will meet for the district title for the second straight season. The Eagles claimed the crown last year and also defeated the Rockets earlier this season.

“We beat them pretty good in the regular season last year and didn’t go into that championship game with the right mind-set,” said Reich. “We’ll be ready this time.”

Slippery Rock 7 7 0 14 — 28

Hickory 0 0 0 0 — 0

First Quarter

SR - Brett Galcik 10 fumble return (Nick Kingerski kick), 3:26

Second Quarter

SR - Sam Schwartz 9 pass from William Mokel (Kingerski kick), 1:49

Fourth Quarter

SR - Sal Mineo 8 run (Kingerski kick), 9:38

SR - Maddox Allen 27 run (Kingerski kick), 8:01

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Slippery Rock, William Mokel 10-39, Maddox Allen 15-77, Sal Mineo 9-56, Brett Galcik 1-(-5), Lucas Allison 1-4. Hickory, Logan Woods 4-6, Zander Telesz 9-14, Sean Kennedy 10-24, Daymar Trawick 5-0, Ty Holland 2-23, Nash Porada 1-7.

Passing: Slippery Rock, William Mokel 8-12-80-0. Hickory, Logan Woods 5-12-27-1, Zander Telesz 4-9-48-0.

Receiving: Slippery Rock, Sam Schwartz 3-25, Sal Mineo 3-37, John Sabo 1-12, Maddox Allen 1-6. Hickory, Keenan Scullin 2-13, Luke Nevil 2-4, Ty Holland 1-12, Will Acrie 1-19, Tim Krivosh 1-10, Nash Porada 1-12, Zander Telesz 1-5.

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