Rockets succumb to rival Grove City
SLIPPERY ROCK — Slippery Rock was ready for a contested rivalry game. Grove City had gotten the better of the Rockets in both of their matchups last year. This game was set up to be a chance at revenge.
But Friday night’s game slowly started to snowball away, and the Eagles would end up coming out with a 47-14 victory.
Out of the gate, it appeared as though the game could’ve been a defensive showcase. There was only one touchdown scored in the first seven drives.
Slippery Rock grabbed momentum when linebacker Tim McCreary recovered a fumble in what was just a 7-0 game, but the ensuing play was indicative of how much of the game would go. Right after Slippery Rock got the ball on a turnover, the Eagles got one as defensive lineman Adan Navarro was able to intercept the ball on a muddled screen play.
When SRHS made a good play, it always seemed like something was waiting in the wings, be it a negative play or a flag, to slow them down.
Grove City’s offense kept the pressure on. Joey Hathaway ran his way in to make it 14-0 and quarterback Hunter Hohman found Gavin Lutz for a passing touchdown to go up by 21 before The Rockets got on the scoreboard.
After Grove City’s scores, The Rockets found the end zone from 18 yards out on a deceptive run. Owen Long cut away to rush his way in and make the score 21-7.
“When you see certain things, you say ‘hey let’s give it a shot.’” Slippery Rock coach Larry Wendereusz Jr. said.
The Eagles would go on to score again before half on a Hathaway reception, but the score of 28-7 at the intermission wasn’t entirely telling of the game.
“At the end of the first half, it could’ve been a 21-21 game,” Grove City coach Sam Mowrey said.
SRHS moved the ball into the red zone, but couldn’t convert.
“You can’t leave those points on the field against good football teams,” Wendereusz said. “That halftime score could’ve been easily 21-21 or it could’ve been the other way.”
Coming out of the break, The Rockets couldn’t establish consistency.
“Second half we didn’t keep the momentum. We never got it back,” Wendereusz said.
The Eagles continued their strong performance, finding the end zone three more times in the second half. Hohman ran two in. The other score came on a Bode Stevenson five yard rush. The Stevenson run would be the final score of the game.
“Hunter had a great night of making good decisions. He wasn’t trying to force things and he took what the defense gave him,” Mowrey said. “Let’s not forget the guys up front that made it happen, the offensive line just did a fantastic job tonight.”
The Eagles senior quarterback finished his night with 357 passing yards and three touchdowns and tacked on 58 yards and those two scores on the ground.
His Slippery Rock counterpart, Eli Anderson, didn’t finish with quite as bulky of a stat line, but his track star speed was in full effect all night. He finished with close to 300 all-purpose yards, a ground score and had a huge kickoff return to Grove City’s 40-yard line.
“We want to get him the ball as much as we can,” Wendereusz said.
Eli Anderson was the author of multiple electric plays. As the return man and quarterback, he was a big play threat on every snap.
“When you have one of your better athletes, whether they’re a quarterback, wide receiver, running back or whatever, you need them to touch the ball as much as they can,” Wendereusz said.
Wendereusz knows its nights like these where he needs to remind himself and the team they are still learning together and there’s plenty of season left to sort out the problems.
“The truth is we’re still inexperienced and we’re still trying to figure some of those things out,” Wendereusz said.
Grove City 7 21 12 7 - 47
Slippery Rock 0 7 7 0 - 14
GC - Joey Hathaway, 41 pass from Hunter Hohman (Jacob Stucchio kick)
GC - Hathaway, 5 run (Stucchio kick)
GC - Gavin Lutz, 36 pass from Hohman (Stucchio kick)
SR - Owen Long, 18 run (Zach Lasko kick)
GC - Hathaway, 28 pass from Hohman (Stucchio kick)
GC - Hohman, 11 run (kick failed)
GC - Hohman, 13 run (kick blocked)
SR - Eli Anderson, 78 run (Lasko kick)
GC - Bode Stevenson, 5 run (Stucchio kick)
Rushing: Slippery Rock, Eli Anderson 15-80, Dominick Zandi 11-46, Sam Schwartz 2-3, Owen Long 2-16, Rico Esquivel 2-3. Grove City, Hunter Hohman 7-58, Bode Stevenson 4-39, Joey Hathaway 4-21, Nathan Greer 2-5, Jonah Stucchio 3-39, Carl Bubenheim 3-10, Dominic Garzarelli 4-2, Lucas McCreadie 5-(-7), Gavin Lutz 2-8.
Passing: Slippery Rock, Eli Anderson 12-17-126 -1. Grove City, Hunter Hohman 26-31-357-0.
Receiving: Slippery Rock, Douglas Popovec 4-45, Owen Long 1-11, Dominick Zandi 1-10, Cooper Glass 3-34, Sam Schwartz 3-25. Grove City, Nathan Greer 9-103, Gavin Lutz 8-118, Joey Hathaway 7-106, Clayton Martin 2-30