By Kelley Anne Stuetz
SC Contributing Writer
ESU hit the road for a four-hour commute to Slippery Rock University on Saturday, Sept. 12 for the PSAC Game of the Week. Under very rainy conditions, ESU fell to SRU, 34-9, at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.
Wind affected the players from kickoff to the last down. ESU was the first to put points on the board and jumped ahead 3-0. ESU still led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, but the Rock scored 17 straight points to close the first half and added a TD on its first drive of the second half.
Slippery Rock placekicker Mike Wainauskis booted a 32-yard field goal to extend its lead to 27-3. That made it 27 unanswered points for Slippery Rock.
ESU’s tandem of redshirt senior quarterback Matt Soltes and redshirt senior wide receiver Jon Schnaars cut the scoring deficit to 27-9 on an 8-yard TD pass with 6:12 left in the game. However, the Rock’s Isiah Neely ripped off a 30-yard TD run on the ensuing possession that ended all hopes of an ESU comeback. The final score was 34-9 Slippery Rock.
The Warriors’ defense got absolutely gashed on the ground. Slippery Rock’s Shamar Greene rushed 19 times for 132 yards, but he left the game in the second quarter because of an injury.
Isiah Neely came into the game for Slippery Rock and was even better. Neely carried the rock 12 times for 153 yards and 1 TD. In total, the Warriors gave up 447 yards on the ground.
ESU’s Soltes was 18-for-44 for 236 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception for ESU (0-2). Schnaars had 7 catches for 128 yards and ESU’s only TD in the fourth quarter.
This game was chosen to be the NCAA Division II Showcase Game of the Week. It was televised on the American Sports Network and was available for streaming online through NCAA.com. The game was notable for pitting two early season Harlon Hill hopefuls in Matt Soltes and Shamar Greene.
ESU head coach Denny Douds (250 career wins – PSAC record) and SRU’s George Mihalik
(187 wins – 4th in PSAC history) are two of the active career wins leaders in the PSAC. Douds (class of 1963) and Mihalik (class of 1974) are both SRU graduates.
Coach Douds and Coach Mihalik both believe that early season games are often won on conditioning. They both stated that conditioning was a major factor that determined the outcomes of their season openers last Saturday.
Both head coaches are Slippery Rock graduates and had outstanding football playing careers. They were in their senior year when they won a PSAC football championship.
Both are also the only head football coaches in the PSAC who are tenured teaching professors.
Next week, ESU hosts Edinboro on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 1:05 p.m. at Eiler-Martin Stadium for Family Weekend. Join the Warrior community for ESU planetarium shows, photo rally towels and a variety of activities in the Warrior Fan Zone.
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