SLIPPERY ROCK — The Titusville High School football team had a number of players out due to illness.
Meanwhile, Slippery Rock was struck by a malady early in the game that has dogged it for most of the season.
One team recovered.
It was Slippery Rock, which bounced back from fumbles on its first two possessions to score 28 first-quarter points on the way to a 42-13 home run Friday night.
“I’m happy with the outcome,” said Slippery Rock coach Larry Wendereusz. “But, I’m not happy with the game.”
Slippery Rock (3-3 overall, 0-2 Region 5) had five turnovers last week in a loss against Grove City and had three against Titusville.
But in the battle of the Rockets, it was Slippery Rock that was able to persevere.
Thank a smothering defense for that.
Slippery Rock sacked Titusville quarterback Garrett Knapp four times in the first half. Senior Gabe Smithbauer was in on three of them. Justin Schaeffer also had a hand in one.
At one point, Titusville (3-3 overall, 1-2 Region 6) had minus-32 yards.
A rash of illness that spread through the team like wildfire this week was part of the problem.
Titusville leading rusher Charles Nicholson didn’t play. Neither did some key members up front.
“We knew coming in we had a lot of sickness going around the school this week and some injuries,” said Titusville coach Bryan Baldwin. “Last night on a Thursday night practice we had to scramble around and try to fix things. It’s not ideal. It’s not what you want to have to do.”
The missing links on the line showed as Slippery Rock dominated both lines of scrimmage.
David Duffalo had a pair of touchdowns — one on a 27-yard run after receiving a last-second pitch from quarterback Vito Pilosi, and one an 18-yard screen pass — that gave Slippery Rock a 14-0 lead.
Slippery Rock then scored two more touchdowns in a span of 13 seconds.
Pilosi ducked a tackle and burst untouched up the middle for a 16-yard TD run, and then, after Titusville fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Brandon Earl caught a perfect strike from Pilosi for a 32-yard score to put Slippery Rock ahead 28-0.
Nathan Hyatt’s 7-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave Slippery Rock a 35-0 lead at the break.
“The potential is there to be a good football team,” Wendereusz said. “We just have to clean it up to be a good football team.”
Slippery Rock got a score from its defense in the third quarter when linebacker Kid Scarborough scooped up a fumble and raced 42 yards for a touchdown and a 42-0 lead.
Titusville got a pair of touchdown passes from Knapp in the second half. Landon Palma caught a 57-yard score in the third quarter, while Isaac Jackson added an 11-yard strike in the fourth.
Sophomore Kolin Baker filled the void in the running game for Titusville with 47 yards on 31 carries.
“He gets in the weight room and he had that good vision we like to see,” Baldwin said. “We’re very proud of him.”
Titusville will go back to the drawing board to prepare for next week’s home finale against Region 6-foe Harbor Creek.