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Unbeaten SRU football team travels to Seton Hill for 1st road game of season

Business as usual for The Rock
Slippery Rock University's Tony Grimes (4) looks for an opening on a punt return in the first half of The Rock’s game against Millersville last Saturday at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium. SRU won 42-21. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

SLIPPERY ROCK — Don’t expect Slippery Rock University football coach Shawn Lutz to fall into the clutches of a “trap” game Saturday at Seton Hill.

He doesn’t believe the trap exists.

“I don’t believe in that stuff,” Lutz said of the ‘trap game’ concept. “Our guys love to play football and know we have to get better. We’re focused on this week and this week alone.

“It’s up to us to go out and prove we’re deserving of our national ranking each week.”

No. 12 SRU is 3-0 as it travels to Seton Hill (1-2) for a 3 p.m. kickoff at Offutt Field in Greensburg. SRU hosts rival and fellow PSAC West contender Indiana (Pa.) next week. The Rock is 11-2 in its series with the Griffins, including wins in their last six meetings.

The last road PSAC West opener The Rock lost was a 41-38 decision at Seton Hill in 2015.

The Griffins are down to their third-string quarterback because of injuries. Seton Hill was without four starters in last week’s 55-21 loss to East Stroudsburg, a game in which the Griffins surrendered 546 yards. Two of those starters are offensive linemen and they will be game-time decisions this week.

“We’ve had injuries on offense, but our defense really struggled last week and that surprised me,” Seton Hill coach Daniel Day said. “We need to play better on that side of the ball.”

If Day has things his way, his defense won’t be on the field very often on Saturday.

“Our key will be keeping Slippery Rock’s offense on the sidelines,” he said . “We need to extend our offensive possessions and if that means gambling on fourth downs to keep the ball, we’ll do it.

“Slippery Rock has been incredibly efficient offensively. They can pretty much do everything.”

The Rock is averaging 39.7 points and 453.7 yards per game. It’s scored 91 points and averaged more than 500 yards offensively against West Chester and Millersville the past two weeks.

Brayden Long completed 50 of 77 passes for 712 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions in those two games.

“In this league, you’re only going to go as far as your quarterback will take you,” Lutz said,. “It takes an intelligent QB to run our offense and Brayden is a highly intelligent player.

He knows when to pull it down and run and he’s making the right decisions with the football.“

Seton Hill’s lone win this year is a 28-23 triumph over Shippensburg two weeks ago. It was the Griffins’ first-ever win over the Red Raiders.

Hayden Teska has completed 26 of 58 passes for 431 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Mark Bails Jr., a 6-foot-3 junior, is his top receiver. He caught nine passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns against East Stroudsburg.

“That kid is a quality receiver and he’s gone off the past couple of weeks,” Lutz said. “This is their third quarterback, but I think he’s their best quarterback. He’s a straight drop-back passer who can throw the ball.

“We need to get after him. This is our PSAC West opener and anything can happen in a football game.”

Day said his team needs to force a couple of turnovers .... “anything to slow them down” ... and not make any major mistakes on special teams.

“Give up a blocked kick or a touchdown on special teams, it’s very difficult to win,” he said. “We have to find a way to slow them down, simple as that. They re incredibly balanced.

“Their up-tempo style will be the fastest we’ve seen this year, too.”

SRU leads the nation in red zone efficiency, having scored on 100% percent of its possessions insider the opposing 20-yard line so far this season.

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