ERIE, Pa. - The Mercyhurst football team suffered a 31-28 loss to Slippery Rock in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division action on Saturday at Tullio Field. The defeat snapped a three-game winning streak for MU and dealt the Lakers their first division loss of 2017.
Quarterback Doug Altavilla finished 26 of 40 for 326 yards and two touchdowns for the Mercyhurst effort. He also ran in a touchdown.
Touchdown receptions were recorded by wide-outs Brad Novak and Austin Hence. Novak totaled seven catches for 85 yards while Hence made five grabs for 90. Running back Garrett Owens had 18 runs for 61 yards and one touchdown. Owens also had six receptions for 57 yards.
On defense, linebacker Alex Zacharyasz was the leading tackler with 11 total stops, including one tackle-for-loss. Defensive back Jake Tarasovitch added nine tackles.
Defensive lineman Andrew Welton recorded 1 1/2 sacks, linebacker Austin Drew made one sack and lineman Uwaila Omorogbe was credited with a half-sack.
The teams traded scores for much of the contest with Mercyhurst twice gaining 7-point leads before Slippery Rock went ahead, 21-14, in the third quarter.
The visiting Rock (6-0, 3-0) broke a 21-all tie in the fourth with 10 consecutive points. Kicker Jake Chapla hit a 45-yard field goal with 11:47 remaining and, later, quarterback Tanner Garry found wide receiver Marcus Johnson for a 64-yard touchdown, helping Slippery Rock to a 31-21 lead.
That Garry-to-Johnson hookup happened one play after the Rock forced Mercyhurst to turn the ball over on downs.
The Lakers answered with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Altavilla to Novak, trimming the deficit to 31-28, but MU never possessed the ball again after that as Slippery Rock ran out the clock.
Owens aided Mercyhurst to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 3-yard TD run and Altavilla threw to Hence for a 42-yard score in the second as the Lakers went on to take a 14-7 leads. Both times, SRU had an answer.
Altavilla's TD run occurred with 1:31 in the third quarter, pulling Mercyhurst into a 21-21 tie before Chapla's kick gave Slippery Rock the lead for good.
Garry completed 26 of 38 passes for 335 yards and four TDs. Wide-out Milly Raye had 10 receptions for 121 yards and one score while Johnson finished with four grabs for 108. Running back Isiah Neely led Slippery Rock on the ground with 19 carries for 88 yards.
The Lakers (3-3, 2-1) will return to action, Oct. 14, when it visits PSAC West opponent Edinboro.
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