By Madeline Williams
Allied News Sports Correspondent
SLIPPERY ROCK —
The undefeated season of head coach Brendan Hathaway and the Slippery Rock Rockets (10-1) came to an end on Friday with a 35-15 loss to General McLane at Slippery Rock University.
“Nothing that happened on this field tonight was from a lack of effort and I’m proud of them for that,” said Hathaway following the District 10 Class AAA semifinal game.
The Region 6-AAA champion Rockets were led by junior quarterback Jake Whitmer, who ran for 123 yards and scored both of Slippery Rock’s touchdowns. He also threw for 82 yards. Junior Travis Lauster rushed for 73 yards and senior Frank Conlon ran for 58.
The Lancers scored on the first possession of the game on a 20-yard pass from quarterback Zach Fox to Chris Laird. A Slippery Rock fumble on the kickoff would be recovered by GM’s Steven Shinn and eventually converted for a touchdown by Tyler Sanders on a 1-yard runs. Evan Dillen kicked both extra points. Slippery Rock again fumbled the ball on a punt return to end the first quarter and Dillen recovered it.
“We stressed the ‘Three T’s’ all week in practice leading up to this game — tackling, turnovers, and toughness,” said General McLane head coach Jim Wells. “I think we executed all three very well (Friday).”
Slippery Rock got on the board with 3:06 to play in the second quarter when Whitmer had a big 79-yard sprint to set him up for a 2-yard touchdown run. The teams headed into the half 14-6.
General McLane’s Fox would march his team down the field before running in an 8-yard touchdown with 3:05 to play in the third quarter.
“Whitmer scored again for the Rockets on a 23-yard run at the start of the fourth quarter. Junior Mark Cessar made the PAT to cut the Lancers’ lead to 21-13.
Sanders scored again for General McLane on a 6-yard route and Dillen’s extra point was good to extend the lead. Slippery Rock ended the game with three interceptions, one of which was returned 24 yards for a touchdown by Dillen. In an attempt to run out the clock, General McLane’s Fox was downed in the end zone, giving two extra points to the Rockets.
Sanders ended the game with 159 yards on 34 carries to lead the Lancers.
“Tyler is a very tough kid. He does everything, he runs hard, and he doesn’t complain,” Wells said. “He gutted one out (Friday). Those were hard yards inside there.”
Hathaway thanked his seniors — Pat Anna, Ryan Bosch, Tim Butler, Conlon, Chris Gaul, Andrew Hufnagel, Eric Lindey, Brandon Madison, Reeseman, and Dave Voland — for their contributions to the program.
“I’ve been happy with this group of seniors since the day I met them,” Hathaway said. “For the last four years, all they’ve given is effort. They made this program what it is. They have been unbelievable leaders, and I know they will be successful in life.”