Hawks stick to the ground in 33-16 win over The Rock
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 13:10
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’
That seems to be the case with IUP’s football team, which stuck to the ground to top Slippery Rock on Homecoming weekend Saturday. Relying on its familiarly productive rushing attack, the Crimson Hawks overcame fundamental mistakes, as well as a stout defensive showing from The Rock early in the game to capture its fifth win of the year, 33-16.
Senior running back Harvie Tuck, who has been the centerpiece of IUP’s offense this year, eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark to move into third place in school history for career yardage on the ground. With a touchdown, Tuck also brought his season scoring total to 10, a personal best.
Complementing Tuck, Rutgers University transfer De’Antwan Williams had a breakout performance with 158 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries. It wasn’t until six minutes remained in the first half that IUP got into the endzone, but the touchdown came off the churning legs of Williams, who sought to “spark the team.”
“You can never have too many good backs,” said Head Coach Curt Cignetti. “It’s good to have two quality backs like that…[Williams] had some really good runs at key times in the game.
“I’ve always had total confidence him; I just have great confidence in ‘Rocket.’”
Slippery Rock seemed to have an edge early, limiting IUP to field goals on the Hawks’ first two drives, then scoring on consecutive series to take a 9-6 lead.
A punting gaffe in which Pat Smith touched his knee on the ground after taking the snap, as well as several misfires in the passing game from quarterback Mike Box, kept The Rock in contention before IUP returned to the ground attack.
After Williams’ first touchdown, IUP’s offense seemed to come alive. A seven-play series shortly afterward was capped off by a one-yard score by Tuck, while Williams later added to his big day by eluding defenders en route to a 31-yard touchdown run. Heading into halftime, the Hawks established a comfortable 27-9 lead.
Defensively, the Hawks were arguably just as impressive. Forcing Slippery Rock to make a quarterback change, IUP recorded four sacks, two of which came at the hands of
senior defensive tackle Carl Thornton.
The Hawks “D” also picked off three passes — two by safety Johnny Franco and the other by defensive back Marvase Byrd.
Perhaps most important about IUP’s defensive showing was a fourth-quarter stand in the red-zone. Driving with less than five minutes to play, The Rock began to threaten at the Hawks’ seven-yard line, but were shut down with a pass deflection on fourth down.
“I thought that was tremendous, a great job by the defense,” Cignetti said. “We had a turnover and they hit a long pass…[but] it was a great stand by the defense at the end of the game. It was tremendous.”
The IUP-Slippery Rock showdown ended with some brief tension following a heated, game-sealing kneel-down. Hesitating in the pocket before taking a knee to run out the clock, Box was tackled to the ground by Slippery Rock cornerback Anthony Saunders, prompting yells from various players before the coaching staff escorted the teams to the locker room.
The Crimson Hawks, 5-1 after their Homecoming victory, will next travel to Edinboro Saturday for a noon matchup with the Fighting Scots, who have won three consecutive games since losing the first two weeks of the season.