IUP Racks Up Over 600 Yards of Offense in Knocking off Slippery Rock

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Third-ranked IUP football ran for 384 yards and held one of the top offenses in the nation in check as the Crimson Hawks took down ninth-ranked Slippery Rock in Division II’s game of the week on Saturday afternoon at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.

(Photo courtesy of IUP Athletics)

The 384 rushing yards were part of 609 total yards for the Crimson Hawks, who stayed perfect on the year with a 7-0 overall record and a 4-0 mark in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division.

Sophomore running back Samir Bullock (Philadelphia, Pa./Archbishop Ryan) had a game-high 168 yards on 17 carries, including an 84-yarder out of his own end zone in the second quarter. The run was much needed for IUP, which trailed Slippery Rock (6-1, 3-1) 10-0 at the time and faced a second down and 11 at its own one-yard line. Bullock broke a tackle five yards deep in his end zone, and then raced down the IUP sideline to the SRU 15. The Crimson Hawks ended up with a 24-yard field goal by redshirt sophomore Dillon Sarka (Lebanon, Ohio/Waynesville) to get on the board.

That field goal was the first of 24 straight points for the Crimson Hawks, who scored two more touchdowns in the second quarter and another one to start the third to grab a 24-10 lead.

Redshirt junior quarterback Lenny Williams, Jr. (McKees Rocks, Pa./Sto-Rox) tossed both second-quarter touchdowns, the first a 25-yarder to senior receiver Walt Pegues (Philadelphia, Pa. /Central), and the second a 14-yarder to senior receiver Allen Wright (McKeesport, Pa. /McKeesport Area). Freshman back Justice Evans (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) made it three straight touchdowns for IUP with a four-yard plunge on the Crimson Hawks’ first possession of the second half.

Williams had a typical day, completing 23-of-28 passes (82.1 percent) for 225 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

The Rock answered back, putting together a 17-play, 81-yard touchdown drive to cut the IUP lead to seven at 24-17 with four minutes left in the third quarter.

That gained momentum did not last for Slippery Rock, as the IUP defense forced two straight punts and picked off quarterback Tanner Garry twice to help seal the victory.

The first punt was turned into another IUP field goal, with Sarka connecting from 41 yards out at the start of the fourth. Three minutes later, Williams found redshirt sophomore receiver Kolbe Hughes (Williamsville, N.Y./Williamsville North) in the back corner of a sun-flushed end zone to cap the scoring for the day.

That final touchdown was set up by a 72-yard run by Evans, taking it from the IUP 20-yard line down to the Slippery Rock eight. Evans finished with 89 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

The IUP defense shut down the strong Slippery Rock offense, which entered the game averaging 42 points and 448 total yards per game. On Saturday, SRU finished with just 382 total yards. Garry finished his day 25-of-44 passing (58.1 percent) for 316 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Slippery Rock did start strong, with back-to-back scoring drives that totaled 161 yards and gave SRU a 10-0 lead. But in the four ensuing first-half possessions, the IUP defense gave up just 60 yards and forced four straight punts. After SRU’s third-quarter touchdown, the Crimson Hawks surrendered just 74 more yards the rest of the way.

Redshirt sophomore JR Stevens (Langhorne, Pa./Neshaminy) was a big part of that late game defensive surge, picking off Garry twice. Sophomore linebacker Damon Lloyd (Bel Air, Md./John Carroll) had a team-high nine tackles, while sophomore end Dondrea Tillman (Sterling, Va./Potomac Falls) and senior tackle Jordan Diven (Coraopolis, Pa./West Allegheny) each had a sack. Junior end Deandre Easterling (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) also provided the pressure on Garry, who failed to throw for at least two touchdowns for the first time all season.

IUP came into today ranked third in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches’ poll and second in the D2Football.com Media top 25 … This marks the eighth 7-0 start in IUP’s rich history, the first since 2001 … IUP’s other 7-0 starts came in 1940, 1967, 1968, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 2001 … It’s also the first 7-0 start for a first-year IUP head coach, as Paul Tortorella continues to impress in his initial year in charge … The Crimson Hawks possessed the ball for 34:34 on Saturday, it’s best output of the season … Bullock now has eight career 100-yard rushing games … In three career games against Slippery Rock, Williams has completed 70 percent (56-of-80) of his passes, for 833 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception … IUP has outscored Slippery Rock a combined 82-36 in the last two meetings … The Crimson Hawks gave up just 66 rushing yards on Saturday, the fifth straight game IUP has held opponents under 100 yards on the ground.

Up next
The Crimson Hawks are on the road again next week, heading to Clarion to face the Golden Eagles (1-6, 1-3 PSAC). Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.

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