KUTZTOWN, Pa. -- Charles Snorweah scored on an eight-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left to complete a 16-point fourth quarter comeback that lifted the eighth ranked Slippery Rock University football team to a 37-35 win over 13th ranked Kutztown University Saturday in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championship game from Andre Reed Stadium.
The 12th PSAC title in program history improves Slippery Rock to 11-0 and almost certainly locks up a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA playoffs. The Rock are the only undefeated team in Super Region One after knocking off Kutztown, which entered the game at 10-0. SRU will officially find out its playoff outlook when the NCAA announces the playoff field Sunday at 5 p.m. at www.ncaa.com.
Saturday’s win was unlike each of the first 10 games of the season for SRU, in that The Rock only led for 25 seconds all day. Slippery Rock trailed 35-21 heading to the fourth quarter, but scored 16 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes to pull off a comeback victory.
Kutztown scored touchdowns on its final four possessions of the first half and Slippery Rock scored on its final three possessions of the half to give the Golden Bears a 28-21 lead at halftime, marking the first time all year SRU had trailed at the half.
The hosts completed their fifth straight TD drive on their first possession of the second half to take a 35-21 lead with 8:20 to play in the third quarter. That would be the final points for the Golden Bears as The Rock defense slammed the door for the final 23 minutes, shutting Kutztown out the rest of the way.
SRU cut the deficit to 35-28 with 11:52 to play when Roland Rivers III connected with DeSean Dinkins from two-yards out on a fade route in the corner of the end zone.
The Rock then tacked on a 31-yard field goal from Jake Chapla to make it 35-31 with 3:58 to play after a 59-yard punt return from Jermaine Wynn Jr. set SRU up in the red zone.
Slippery Rock forced a third straight three and out from the Kutztown offense and got the ball back at their own 35-yard line with 2:06 to play. Rivers completed four passes and Snorweah rushed for 20 yards on the drive, which was capped when he found a seam and dove into the end zone on second down from the eight yard line with 25 seconds to play. Jake Chapla narrowly missed the extra point to make it 37-35.
Kutztown was limited to just six total yards of offense in the quarter up to its final possession, but got one last chance after a good kickoff return placed the ball at their own 37-yard line with 15 seconds left. Collin DiGalbo completed a 21-yard pass to Jack Pilkerton and then an eight-yard pass to Pilkerton, who was
tackled at the SRU 34-yard line with two seconds left. After two timeouts, Kutztown elected to attempt a 51-yard field goal rather than a Hail Mary. The field goal attempt never got airborne and dribbled along the turf to seal the comeback win for SRU.
Slippery Rock allowed 429 yards of offense and 35 points in the first three quarters, but limited Kutztown to just 35 yards and no points in the fourth quarter. The Rock finished the game with 486 yards of offense with 302 passing yards and 184 rushing yards. Kutztown finished with 464 yards of offense with 237 of that coming on the ground and 227 of it coming in the air.
Rivers was named the Most Valuable Player for the game after completing 28-of-41 passes for 302 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 53 yards to finish with 355 yards of total offense.
Henry Litwin broke the SRU single-season record for touchdown receptions after grabbing eight passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns, bringing his season total to 16 touchdown catches. That mark tops the former record of 15 that was set by John Schademan in 2013.
Wynn Jr. caught nine passes for 85 yards and one touchdown to go along with his 59-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. Cinque Sweeting caught five passes for 39 yards and Qaadir Dixon grabbed three passes for 36 yards. Max Maciejewski caught one 30-yard pass, which set up the first touchdown of the fourth quarter. Dinkins rushed for 76 yards on 11 carries and caught two passes for seven yards and one touchdown. Snorweah rushed for 62 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.
Selvin Haynes led the defense with seven tackles after starting in place of Dalton Holt, who missed his second straight game. Khadir Roberts and Chad Kuhn each added six tackles and Kuhn recorded 1.0 tackle for loss. Tyree Spearman and Shane Schuback each had five tackles, while Schuback and Wilford Clark both had 1.0 tackle for loss.
DiGalbo completed 21-of-32 passes for 227 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for Kutztown. He also rushed for 92 yards and one touchdown. Abdul-Hassan Neblett racked up 190 total yards and two touchdowns with 141 rushing yards and 49 receiving yards. Pilkerton caught 10 passes for a game-high 129 yards and two touchdowns.
Slippery Rock will now turn its focus to the NCAA selection show Sunday, where it will likely hear its name called as the No. 1 seed in Super Region One. That would mean a first round bye in the NCAA playoffs and a home second round game Nov. 30.
NOTES: Slippery Rock is 11-0 for the first time in program history … Kutztown was 10-0 for the first time in its program history … SRU is the only undefeated team remaining in Super Region One … The Rock won their 12th overall PSAC title and their seventh by way of winning the PSAC Championship game (game was played from 1960-87 and then from 2008 to now) … SRU has played in the PSAC title game in five of the last seven years and has won it three times in the last six seasons … the PSAC title is the first for head coach Shawn Lutz, who improved to 37-10 in his fourth season … Henry Litwin broke the SRU single-season record for TD catches and now has 16, topping the former record of 15 that was set by John Schademan in 2013 … Roland Rivers III increased his SRU single-season and career TD passing records to 40 and 68 … Rivers’ 3,409 passing yards this season are the third most in a single-season in SRU history … his 4,000 yards of total offense are the second most in SRU history, just 199 behind Nigel Barksdale’s single-season record of 4,199 from 2013 … Jake Chapla extended his SRU career records to 222 PAT kicks, 49 made field goals and 369 points.