SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Clarion junior All-America defensive end Julian Howsare (Altoona) intercepted 2 passes and running back Bobby Thomas (Jr. Reading) rushed for 70 yards and 2 td’s but the Golden Eagles dropped a 34-13 decision to #24 ranked Slippery Rock on Saturday afternoon in an NCAA Division II and PSAC-West contest.
Held at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium and in front of a Homecoming Day crowd of 8,110, Slippery Rock raised its overall record to 6-1 and 3-1 in the PSAC-West, while Clarion dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the West.
Slippery Rock, led by running back Shamar Greene’s 131 rushing yards and 1 td, and qb Nigel Barksdale who completed 17 of 32 passes for 276 yards and 2 td’s and 2 int’s, scored on its first possession driving 62 yards in only 5 plays.
Barksdale hit wideout John Schademan for a 54-yard pass play to the Clarion 11, and three plays later hit Schademan again for a 6-yard td pass. Clarion’s Kwame Bell blocked the PAT and SR had a 6-0 lead at 11:27 of the first quarter.
Clarion had a chance to take the lead on its next possession driving from its own 35 to the Slippery Rock 8 with a first and goal. Big plays were a 12 yard run by qb Darelle Carson (FR. Pgh – Perry) and a 20-yard run by Bobby Thomas to take the pigskin to the SR 18. Another 10 yard run from Carson gave Clarion first and goal at the 8. Two rushes netted 1 yard, and Carson’s pass for Reid was incomplete on third down, so freshman placekicker Phil Esposito (FR. Brockway) came on to try a 24-yard field goal, but the all missed the top of the left goal post by about 6 inches and Clarion missed a golden opportunity to score.
SR used the momentum to drive 80 yards to score again. Barksdale hit Ken Amos for 48 yars to the Clarion 32. Three plays later Barksdale finished the drive with a 7-yard td pass to Amos and a 13-0 SR lead with 3:45 left in the first.
Clarion mounted another impressive drive midway through the second quarter. Starting at its own 19, the Eagles saw Carson hit Chris Liberto (So. Springdale) for 19 yards, and then Carson rushed for 18 yards to the SR 40. Liberto converted a fourth and 1 at the SR 31 with a 4-yard run to the SR 27. The drive stalled and Esposito came on to try a 42yard field goal, but again the ball sailed inches wide left and SR maintained its 13-0 lead with 3:01 left before intermission.
The Rock went ahead 20-0 with only 21-second left before intermission when Teddy Blakeman rushed over from 1-yard out capping a 75-yard drive.
SR made it 27-0 when the Rock drove to score on its first possession of the second half. Blakeman capped a 75-yard drive with a 3-yard td run at 13:24 of the third.
Clarion’s Ren Yonker (Sr. Johnsonburg) forced and recovered an SR fumble at the Rock 22, setting up the Golden Eagles for their first score. After Carson was sacked for a loss of 4, Thomas skirted left end for 20 yards and a first down at the SR 6. On fourth and 1 at the 1, Thomas bulled over for the Eagle td making the score 27-6 at 8:47 of the third.
Clarion All-American Julian Howsare gave the Eagles great field position on SR’s next possession. Barksdale went back to pass on third and 7 at the SR 33, and Howsare intercepted the Barksdale pass at the SR 44 and returned it 12 yards to the SR 32. The Eagles drove to the SR 12 and had fourth a 1, but Liberto was stopped on an inside run short of the sticks and Clarion missed a great opportunity.
On SR’s next possession the Clarion defense came up with another big play. Jacob Heintz (Jr. Gibsonia) rushed Barksdale into a bad throw and Howsare again stepped in at the SR 5 and intercepted the pass putting Clarion first and goal at the 5.
Bobby Thomas capped the short drive with a 1-yard td run and Esposito’s kick made it 27-13 SR with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
SR put the game away on its next drive going 46-yards in only 3 plays to paydirt.Shamar Greene scored on a 31-yard run and the final score was SR 34 Clarion 13.
Clarion totaled 261 yards of offense including 187 rushing yards and 74 passing yards. Carson completed 7 of 21 passes for 82 yards, while also rushing for 57 yards. Backup Matt Futkos (FR. Youngstown/Fitch) was 1 of 1 passing for -8 yards and rushed for 23 yards.
Tailback Bobby Thomas led the ground game with 28 carries for 70 yards and 2 td’s. He now has 1,025 career rushing yards and became the 27th running back in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards.
SR had 506 yards of total offense, rushing for 217 and passing for 289. Barksdale passed for 276 yards and 2 td’s and rushed for 4 yards. Shamar Greene had 15 carries for 131 yards and 1 td, while John SChademan caught 4 passes for 93 yards and 1 td.
Clarion’s Rocco Yauger (So. Trafford) had 8 tackles, with Matt Long (Sr. Pgh – North Catholic) getting 7 to lead the way. Howsare had 4 tackles and 2 interceptions, Matt Shuey (Jr. Johnsonburg) had 1 sack and 1 tfll as did Adam Bostick (Sr. Lititz).
Clarion returns home to host Seton Hill at 1:00 p.m. next Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
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