Clarion football team claims coveted Milk Jug, 27-23

Danny Bailey – Staff Writer

Slippery Rock University came to Memorial Stadium last Saturday, to face off against the Clarion Golden Eagles for Milk Jug Rivalry game.

Usually, this is not much of a contest, as Slippery Rock has beaten Clarion every time since the jug’s inaugural year in 2010.

This year, Clarion stood tall and conquered Slippery Rock 27-23, snapping a four game losing streak, improving its overall record to 3-6 (2-4 PSAC).

This game was an exciting back and forth competition with neither side gaining, then holding a huge lead.

Both teams were always within one touchdown.

The scoring started a little more than halfway through the first quarter with SRU’s Brain McNally catching a 12-yard touchdown from quarterback Augustus Necastro that topped off a 60-yard drive.

Immediately on the next drive, Clarion’s Connor Simmons responded with 22-yard pass to Lehman to finish an incredible 91-yard drive to tie the game.

Kevin Genevro played a huge role in this drive, as he came up with two catches for 35 yards and then 15 to set the offense up just outside the red zone.

Next, we go to the second quarter. This time, Simmons found Greg Leonard for a 7-yard touchdown to bring the score to 14-7 with only 2:25 left in the half.

Clarion finally had the lead over a tough PSAC opponent.

Sadly, this lead lasted for only 16 seconds and the game was tied again.

Necastro went deep to hit Marcus Johnson, who went 71 yards to the end zone on the first and only play of the drive.

Slippery Rock came close to taking the lead at the end of the half, but Sam Fareri shut its offense down with an end zone interception, which put the official cap on the scoring for the first half of the game.

Another quarter, another lead change.

This time, SRU gained the lead for the second time in the game when Clarion gave up another long touchdown pass. Cornelius Raye came up with a 30-yard bomb from Slippery Rock’s Necastro.

Clarion’s special team came up with a block to Slippery Rock’s extra point field goal to keep the score at 20-14.

This block allowed Clarion to snatch the lead when Simmons recorded his third passing touchdown of the game.

Genevro was on the receiving end for an 8-yard beauty to put an end to an 80-yard drive.

The score was 21-20 with Clarion riding the wave of momentum into the fourth quarter.

Clarion’s defense came up big to stop SRU at the 33-yard line where Jake Chapla was forced to kick a field goal to give Slippery Rock yet another lead of 23-21.

With less than three minutes in the game, Clarion was getting desperate to find an answer to SRU and they found that answer on a 63-yard drive capped off with a second Simmons-Genevro completion for a 7-yard touchdown.

Clarion went for the two-point conversion to put the game completely out of reach from Slippery Rock, but it failed.

In the end, that failed two-point conversion did not matter as Clarion’s defense was able to put the finishing touches on an incredible game.

All parts of Clarion’s game were clicking as the defense shut down Slippery Rock during key red zone opportunities, while the offense kept pace with Slippery Rock.

Clarion ended the game with 421 total yards, falling just short of SRU’s 445.

The majority of Clarion’s production fell on Simmons, as he amassed 372 of those yards in his first game back after missing three straight.

Senior wide receivers Genevro and Lehman put up big numbers with 199 yards and 90, respectively.

The Clarion Golden Eagles will square off against Gannon this Saturday at 12 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

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