Rock Loses In Bizarre Fashion

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    Khadir Roberts secured the interception and Slippery Rock University secured the win.

    Almost.

    Moments after Roberts picked off a Brycen Mussina pass at the SRU 2-yard line to preserve a 21-18 lead with just over a minute to play Saturday at Seth Grove Stadium, SRU had a bad snap get loose in the end zone.

    Shippensburg’s Richard Nase fell on the ball and the Red Raiders escaped with a bizarre 25-21 PSAC football victory.

    “I figured we had the game won,” SRU coach Shawn Lutz said. “This was the craziest game I’ve ever been involved in as a coach.

    “In the end, we just made too many mistakes.”

    Even after falling behind in such unexpectant fashion, SRU regrouped and drove downfield. With the ball inside Shippensburg’s 30-yard line and still possessing one timeout, The Rock had a deep pass intercepted at the 4-yard line with nine seconds to play.

    The pick spoiled an otherwise stellar second half turned in by SRU second-string quarterback Taylor King. The 6-foot-4 sophomore completed 20 of 29 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown — all in the final two quarters.

    King replaced starter Andrew Koester, who suffered a knee injury late in the first half.

    “We won’t know Andrew’s status until Monday or Tuesday,” Lutz said. “But Taylor was pushing him for the starting job regardless. He came in and got the offense moving.”

    The Rock (1-1) did not score an offensive touchdown in the first half, yet led 7-6 at intermission. Trystyen McDonald returned a Red Raider fumble 97 yards to paydirt late in the first quarter.

    Shippensburg (2-0) quarterback Brycen Mussina tossed a 59-yard TD pass to Josh Gontarek late in the half, but David Shank missed the PAT.

    SRU lost senior running back Wes Hills to a possible separated shoulder early in the first quarter. Chacar Berry rushed for 57 yards ands a touchdown for The Rock.

    While The Rock tallied 502 yards of offense — 457 passing — mistakes ultimately cost the team. SRU amassed 12 penalties for 149 yards, suffered five turnovers and failed on three field goal attempts.

    Jake Chapla missed two long attempts and had a 22-yarder blocked. The latter kick was late in the fourth period.

    “Jake never line-drives the ball like he did there,” Lutz said. “This was a tough game to figure out. Four of our six personal foul penalties were hands to the face of their defensive linemen.”

    Carnel Harley had seven catches for 137 yards, Henry Litwin seven for 133 for SRU. Kyle Hall and Roberts had interceptions.

    The ball was placed on the 3-yard line after the Roberts pick and The Rock conceivably could have run out the clock had the quarterback lined up under center and taken a knee.

    “We had enough room on the field to do that,” Lutz admitted. “The problem was, we never line up under center. We don’t run any plays that way.

    “That may have to change. We’re going to talk about that over the next couple of days. Still, we have to execute our snaps.

    “This is a tough loss to take, for sure, but it’s my job to get this team to move forward and get ready for next week. Our next game is pivotal, no doubt about that,” the coach added.

    SRU travels to Millersville for a 04:00 p.m. game Saturday.

    Slippery Rock 7 0 7 7 — 21
    Shippensburg 0 6 6 13 — 25

    First Quarter

    SRU — Trysten McDonald 97 fumble return (Jake Chapla kick), 3:33

    Second Quarter

    SHIP — Josh Gontyarek 59 pass from Brycen Mussina (kick failed), 3:50

    Third Quarter

    SHIP — Luke Durkin 1 run (pass failed), 9:00
    SRU — Chacar Berry 1 run (Chapla kick), 6:22

    Fourth Quarter

    SHIP — Charles Headen 33 pass from Mussina (pass failed), 9:25
    SRU — Henry Litwin 62 pass from Taylor King (Chapla kick), 4:50
    SHIP — Richard Nase recovered fumbled snap in end zone (David Shank kick), :56

    Individual Statistics

    Rushing: SRU, Chacart Berry 19-57, Wes Hills 2-5, Braden Fochtman 2-3, Andrew Koester 4-1, TEAM 1-(-3), Taylor King 5-(-18). Ship, Marcus Lominy 14-77, Raleigh Sirb 6-35, Brycen Mussina 2-6, Sean Judge 1-3, Chase Yocum 2-0.

    Passing: SRU, Andrew Koester 11-19-122-1, Taylor King 20-29-335-2. Ship, Brycen Mussina 23-48-285-2.

    Receiving: SRU, Carnel Harley 7-137, Henry Litwin 7-133, Austin Scott 7-80, Chacar Berry 5-50, Jermaine Wynn Jr. 2-27, Mike Merhaut 2-16, Dakota Clanagan 1-14. Ship, Josh Gontarek 3-84, Charles Headen 4-44, Winston Eubanks 3-42, Mari Wright 2-40, Shea O’Donnell 4-33, Marcus Lominy 4-30, David Balint 2-9, Luke Durkin 1-3.