CONNEAUT — After trailing 14-7 into the second quarter, the Slippery Rock Rockets scored 42 straight points to pull away for a 49-14 win against the Conneaut Spartans in Division 10 conference action Friday night at Joslin Field.
Conneaut dropped to 3-4 with the loss, while Slippery Rock improved to 4-0 on the season.
The Rockets capitalized by forcing four turnovers and that made it tough for the Spartans to get much going after the first quarter. Slippery Rock scored 28 points in the second quarter to put the game away.
“We really got to protect the ball and when we’re laying the ball back deep in our territory it’s hard for the defense to do anything,” Conneaut coach Rocco Dobran said. “What I appreciate is almost all the mistakes, our guys are trying to make a play and go a little bit extra. I appreciate our passion and our kids play with heart, but we have to protect the ball.”
Slippery Rock junior quarterback William Mokel threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions on 8-for-16 passing. Junior receiver John Sabo had four receptions for 160 yards and three touchdowns for the Rockets.
Junior running back Zack Rice led Conneaut with a pair of rushing touchdowns and 53 yards rushing. Quarterback Kiefer Mandagelo had 59 yards rushing and was 8-for-13 passing for 96 yards.
Dobran said Rice and Mandagelo are starting to gel as a nice two-man combination in the backfield.
Defensively for the Spartans, the combination of Mokel to Sabo was tough to defend, Dobran said.
“He’s a very good quarterback, we saw it on the film — multiple things he’s very good at,” the Conneaut coach said. “Reading [the coverage], he can run, he can hand the ball off and throw the quick screens and obviously he can throw it down the field to his best player. It’s hard to stop a guy who has multiple talents.
“That’s a really well coached and talented team. We had a couple different corners on [Sabo] and he kept playing.”
Ryan Montgomery put the Rockets on the board first with a 15-yard run up the middle for a touchdown with 11:04 left in the first quarter. The extra point by junior kicker Nick Kingerski made it 7-0.
Rice got the Spartans on the board with a run off right tackle for 19 yards with 4:16 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point by kicker Chase Carpenter tied the score at 7-7.
After Carpenter intercepted Mokel to give the ball back to the Spartans, Rice scored his second touchdown of the game with a 6-yard run off left tackle. The kick by Carpenter made it 14-7 with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
However, things quickly went downhill for the Spartans after that point.
The Rockets tied the score at 14-14 with 9:29 in the second quarter when Mokel threw a 23-yd touchdown pass to Sabo. Kingerski’s kick was good.
Junior running back Brett Galcik gave the Rockets the lead with 4:58 to go before halftime with 1-yard touchdown run up the middle. The Kingerski kick was good to give Slippery Rock a 21-14 lead.
After a fumble by Mandagelo on Conneaut’s 8-yard line, Mokel threw an 8-yard touchdown to Sabo with 3:55 left in 2nd quarter. The extra point was good by Kingerski and Slippery Rock increased its lead to 28-14.
Mokel extended the Rockets lead right before halftime with a 4-yard touchdown run off the left side to make it 35-14 after the kick.
Mokel threw his third touchdown pass of the game to Sabo, an 87-yard play down the right sideline just over the hands of defensive back Carpenter on a third down and long play. The kick made it 42-14 with 7:27 in the third quarter.
Montgomery, at defensive back, picked off a Mandagelo pass and returned the interception for 52 yards with 4:46 left in the third quarter. Kingerski’s kick was good to finish the scoring for the Rockets.
Conneaut is at Sharon next Friday, Slippery Rock at home vs. Hickory on the same night.