SLIPPERY ROCK -- Despite all the gaudy offensive numbers the Slippery Rock High School football team put up Friday night, none impressed Rockets head coach Brendan Hathaway more than his team’s efforts through the air.
“My favorite stat for the game was we were 1 for 1 passing,” Hathaway said with a chuckle after his squad rolled to a 47-21 win in Region 3-AA play over rival Grove City.
SR didn’t attempt a punt either.
“That was pretty nice, too,” Hathaway admitted.
The Rockets (2-0, 3-0) accumulted 467 yards on the ground and Brady Kadlubek hauled in the lone pass for 11 yards on the team’s first offensive possession.
“The offense they run creates 1-on-1 matchups,” Grove City coach Sam Mowrey said. “You have to have 11 guys that do their job every time. You see what happens when even one guy doesn’t do that. Even when we do, they can break tackles. They did a good job of making something out of nothing.
“I felt good at times, because we’d get a few stops. We could never string together an entire series together. Their offense doesn’t take many negative plays. They’re getting three, four yards. They’re putting themselves in good position and are able to keep the chains moving.”
Travis Lauster, who finished with a game-high 111 yards rushing on 13 carries, got Slippery Rock off to a good start by scoring on runs of 19, 28 and 10 yards to guide ninth-ranked Slippery Rock to a 27-0 cushion midway through the second quarter. He also returned an interception 43 yards.
“He’s a ball player,” Hathaway said. “I always tell the guys the greatest compliment you can get is when you’re called a ball player. Travis really stepped it up.”
Trailing 27-0 late in the second quarter, Jared Graham made an athletic catch on a high throw from sophomore quarterback Kameron Patterson and raced 84 yards for the Eagles’ first score.
After the Rockets went 40-7, Graham outraced the Slippery Rock defense for a 77-yard touchdown and Nick Davies hauled in a 12-yard score from Patterson to cap the scoring.
“I’m as proud of them now as I have been all season,” Mowrey said. “There’s a lot of teams that would have quit, but we didn’t. I’m happy with everything we did. We had a lot of mental errors and we can improve that, but we’ve got a group of kids that are going to fight for four quarters. If we do that, it’s eventually going to pay off.
“They’re disappointed. They see there’s no quit and it’s going to pay dividends in the future. I’m so impressed with their attitudes. There’s no complaining and there isn’t any packing it in. We’re going to be OK.”
Jared McDowell also crossed the century mark with 101 yards on just seven carries, while Trenton Porter added 75 yards on five totes. Jake Whitmer rushed for another 59 yards, while Ryan Lauster, Ken Anderson and Dalton Hilliard combined for 95.
McDowell, Whitmer and Ryan Lauster also scored for Slippery Rock.
“We weren’t just riding one guy,” Hathaway said. “We had a couple guys really contribute. We like to play good team football. We want to spread the ball around. With the triple option, three players could carry the ball on any given play. To spread the ball around like that is what our goal is.”
Hathaway was pleased with how his offensive line of Colten Raabe, Cameron Neal, Blake Heller, Shane Slater and Cody Lawnizcak performed against the Eagles.
“We put some new wrinkles in over the course of the week,” Hathaway said. “I thought the line did an excellent job with their assignments. I’m really happy with our line play overall on offense. They really blocked lights out and opened up some pretty big holes for the backs.”
Graham finished the day with a team-high 71 yards rushing on three carries and pulled six passes for 108 yards. Kaiden Young had four grabs for 58 yards and Patterson completed 12-of-22 passes for 196 yards for Grove City (0-2, 0-3).
“We have some good athletes,” Mowrey said. “They’re just as good as everybody else. We have to get them the ball and let them make plays. You saw some of that tonight. We have to be able to do it a little more consistently.”
Mowrey is happy with his club despite the rocky start to the season.
“I don’t think this is the start any of us envisioned coming into the season,” he said. “I’m sure they feel a little pressure. They’re just so antsy to get that first win. It’s been a tough first few games. We’ve played good teams. We can’t focused on the negative things. If they focus on that, we won’t make any improvement. They can see that we’re going to be successful. We just need to stick with it and keep grinding away.”
NOTES: Cameron Neal had a pair of sacks for Slippery Rock. … The game was played at SRU, because Slippery Rock High School‘s new artificial surface isn‘t ready to be played on. SRHS officials expect it be ready for the Rockets‘ showdown with Hickory in two weeks. … SR had 22 first downs to Grove City’s 7. … Both teams had five fumbles. … Grove City had five penalties for 35 yards, while SR was whistled four times for 40 yards. … GC tight end Kyle Barger hurt his right knee in late in practice Thursday.