Edinboro upsets No. 17 Slippery Rock behind Walter Fletcher's 241-yard, four touchdown day
THE GAME FACTS
Score: Edinboro 49, No. 17 Slippery Rock 39
Records: Edinboro (5-3, 3-2 PSAC West), No. 17 Slippery Rock (6-2, 3-2 PSAC West)
Location: Edinboro, Pa. – Sox Harrison Stadium
The Short Story: As the saying goes, last team with the ball wins. Edinboro outscored 17th-ranked Slippery Rock, 49-39, to remain undefeated at home and hand interim head coach Wayne Bradford his biggest victory. The two teams combined for over 1,100 yards in offense, but SRU had no answer for Walter Fletcher. The redshirt sophomore became the first Edinboro ballcarrier since 2004 to go over 1,000 yards in a season, and did it in a big way. He finished with 241 yards on 25 carries with 4 TDs. The four touchdowns covered 32, 9, 7, and 98 yards.
BREAKING DOWN THE GAME
In a game that featured plenty of scoring, Edinboro jumped out to a 14-0 lead with scores on their first two possessions. The Fighting scots took the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards on just five plays, with Jake Sissoncombining with Ta'Nauz Gregory on a 39-yard TD pass, with the redshirt sophomore catching a short slant and outrunning the secondary.
Following a three-and-out for Slippery Rock, the Fighting Scots put together another five-play drive, this one covering 75 yards. Walter Fletcher scored the first of his four touchdowns on a 32-yard run. It came one play after Sisson hooked up with James Clark for a 24-yard gain on a 3rd-and-5 play. The Fletcher run put him over 1,000 yards for the season and gave Edinboro a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
The SRU offense came alive on the ensuing drive, marching 14 plays in 78 yards while converting four times on third down. Tanner Garry threw the first of his three touchdown passes, combining with Brian McNally on a six-yard scoring pass with 6:26 to play in the first quarter.
Both teams would score a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter, as Edinboro led 28-21 at the half. With Sisson and Fletcher doing most of the damage, the Scots drove 80 yards on 13 plays, with the drive talking up 6 minutes, 38 seconds. Sisson completed four-of-four passes for 32 yards, and Fletcher carried the ball on the last five plays. On 4th-and-2, Edinboro caught SRU with the Statue of Liberty play, with Fletcher receiving the ball and sprinting nine yards for a touchdown.
SRU needed just five plays to close to a touchdown at 21-14, as Garry completed consecutive passes of 35, 21, and 15 yards to the EU four. Isiah Neely scored on a two-yard run with 7:20 left in the second quarter.
The quarter ended with both teams scoring in the final minute. SRU put together an impressive eight-play, 90-yard drive that ended with Marcus Johnson catching a 28-yard TD pass from Garry to tie the game at 21-21 with 51 seconds left.
Slippery Rock looked poised to grab the lead at the half when Sisson was intercepted by Kyle Hall on the next play from scrimmage. SRU went from their won 47 to the EU 40, but Aaron Rogers intercepted Garry and returned the pickoff 39 yards to the SRU 25. A penalty was assessed to The Rock for sideline interference, moving the ball to the 12 with 10 seconds remaining. That was more than enough time, as Sisson found Gregory for a second TD toss, this one covering 12 yards with five second in the half.
The teams combined for five possessions in the third quarter, with four resulting in scores. It began with Slippery Rock pulling to within 28-24 on a 20-yard field goal by Jake Chapla. The Rock wnet 72 yards on 12 plays, but the Boro defense stepped up after SRU got to the one yard line. Aidan Graham threw Neely for a loss of two yards on second down, and an incompletion on third down forced the field goal.
Edinboro would build the lead to 34-24 with a short 47-yard drive after a surprise onside kickoff by SRU failed. In a series that featured several penalties, Fletcher scored on a seven-yard run with 8:12 left in the third quarter.
The Fighting Scots would take their biggest lead of the game after forcing a three-and-out by SRU. Chapla's 62-yard punt was downed at the EU 1. Two Fletcher runs, the second covering 98 yards for a touchdown, gave Edinboro a 42-24 advantage with 5:44 left in the period. Fletcher started to his left then cut back up the middle, before sprinting up the right sideline in front of the Edinboro bench for the second-longest run in school history.
SRU still had plenty of fight left, as The Rock posted the next two scores. They marched 77 yards on 10 plays, nine of them Garry passes, to reach paydirt with 2:51 left in the third quarter. He threw the final 26 yards to Johnson to cut the gap to 42-31.
The Rock would get the ball back early in the fourth quarter and drove 88 yards on 11 plays, with Garry passing on the first nine plays. Garry gained four yards to the one on 3rd-and-gaiol, and Chacar Berry scored on a one-yard run on fourth down. Garry passed to Zach Cirillo for the two-point conversion, and with 10:59 remaining The Rock had pulled to within 42-39.
The Edinboro offense stepped up and drove 78 yards on eight plays on the ensuing series. Facing a 4th-and-3 at the SRU 39, Sisson completed a seven-yard pass to Clark. A holding penalty on first down pushed the ball back to the SRU 42. On the next play, Clark made a circus catch on a 42-yard TD grab. He stumbled over an SRU defender, and hauled in the ball just inside the end zone while flat on his back. The touchdown with 7:25 to play boosted the lead back to 49-39.
SRU would put together one last drive. Taking over at their own one on the kickoff, SRU used 14 plays to move to the EU 1. On 3rd-and-goal, Johnson caught an apparent touchdown pass, but The Rock was called for holding. Brendann Green and Trey hall combined for Edinboro's lone sack of the day.
THE RECORD BOOK
- Walter Fletcher became the first ballcarrier since Andre Burke in 2004 to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He now has 1,199 yards, which ranks 11th in a season. Burke ran for a school-record 1,713 yards in 2004. In addition, he now has 12 touchdowns rushing, which is good for a tie for ninth in a season. Fletcher has moved up to 12th in career rushing with 1,748 yards. Fletcher has six 100-yard games this season, including four in a row. Burke holds the record with consecutive 100-yard games in 2004.
- James Clark continues to climb the career receiving charts. He caught nine passes for 128 yards and a touchdown vs. Slippery Rock to move into sixth place in career receptions with 138. In addition, he climbed four spots into eighth place in career receiving yards with 1,931. He is now tied for fourth in career receiving touchdowns with 19. Clark has 65 receptions this season, good for fourth in a season, and his 812 yards is 11thin a season.
- Jake Sisson moved into third place in career passing yards, boosting his career total to 7,529 after completing 24-of-35 passes for 284 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs. In addition, Sisson also moved into third place in career total offense with 7,915 yards and is tied for third in career touchdown passes (73).
- Slippery Rock quarterback Tanner Garry and wide receiver Marcus Johnson had two of the top performances ever by an opponent. Garry completed 41-of-61 passes for 488 yards. The 41 completions is the second-highest by an opponent, the 61 attempts is third, and the 488 yards ranks fourth. Johnson caught 14 passes for 192 yards, the receptions tied for the most ever by an opponent, and the yards good for seventh. SRU tied a record by an opponent with 40 first downs.
Edinboro makes its first trip outside of Erie County in five weeks on Saturday, October 28, as the Fighting Scots head to Greensburg, Pennsylvania to play Seton Hill. Kickoff at Offutt Field is set for 3 p.m.