Saturday, September 30, 2017

Gooden's Big Day; Villafane's Big Play Lifts Bloomsburg To 28-21 Win At Millersville

MILLERSVILLE, Pa. - Redshirt sophomore Alex Gooden(Parkesburg, Pa./Octorara) rushed for a career-high 164 yards and freshman Jordan Villafane (East Stroudsburg, Pa./Stroudsburg) broke up a potential game-tying touchdown pass on Millersville's last play from scrimmage as the Bloomsburg University football team held off the Marauders of Millersville University, 28-21, on Saturday afternoon at Chryst Field at Biemesderfer Stadium. The win was the fourth consecutive victory for the Huskies who improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division while the Marauders dropped to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in league play.

Facing a fourth-and-14 from its own 28 yard line, Millersville was forced to go for it with less than a minute remaining and only one timeout left. Quarterback Tony Staffieri, who accounted for three touchdowns on the afternoon, went deep looking for his top receiver, Kevin Wiggins. The wideout appeared to have a couple of steps on the Huskies' defense but Villafane leapt and got his fingertips on the pass to knock it away and prevent a potential game-tying touchdown in the closing seconds. From there, the Huskies took a pair of knees and escaped with the seven-point victory over a much-improved Marauders' team.

For the second consecutive week, the Huskies' running game was excellent. After rushing for 277 yards in last week's victory over Cheyney, Bloomsburg ran for 269 yards and four scores in Saturday's win over Millersville. Gooden broke out in a big way, carrying the ball a career-high 18 times for a career-best 164 yards and his second rushing touchdown of the season. He averaged 9.1 yards per carry and had four attempts of at least 10 yards including a career-long 53-yard scamper late in the second quarter. It was the longest rush of the season for the Huskies.

Redshirt sophomore Qmac Quiteh (Tobyhanna, Pa./Pocono Mountain West) added 82 yards on 18 carries while redshirt sophomore Tre Green (West Chester, Pa./B. Reed Henderson)had only one carry but it was a big one - a 33-yard burst up the middle for the Huskies' third touchdown of the contest. It was Green's first collegiate score.

Bloomsburg cracked the scoreboard on a three-yard touchdown run from Quiteh - his fifth rushing score of the season - with 4:21 left in the opening quarter. The touchdown capped off a five-play, 80-yard drive with the big play coming on a 56-yard completion from redshirt senior Chris Palubinsky (Ringtown, Pa./Shenandoah Valley) to redshirt sophomore Michael Allen (Oley, Pa./Oley Valley) to get the Huskies to the three. Redshirt junior Ryan Abbott (Hagerstown, Md./Saint James School) added the extra point to give the Huskies a 7-0 lead.

The Marauders answered on their ensuing possession with a 12-play, 60-yard march down the field, culminating with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Staffieri to Wiggins with 13:33 left in the first half. Joey Farley added the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.

The Huskies avoided near disaster on the ensuing kickoff as Allen fumbled the ball into the endzone, recovered, and narrowly avoided a safety. He did bring the ball out to the six-yard line and then the Bloomsburg offense methodically drove down the field - going 94 yards on 18 plays in nearly ten minutes - capped off by a Gooden one-yard touchdown plunge. Gooden carried the ball eight times on the drive while Quiteh added six totes. Palubinsky attempted only three passes during the drive and completed only one - to redshirt senior Aaron Allison (Philadelphia, Pa./Frankford)for a ten-yard gain which set up a first-and-goal from the nine. Abbott added the point after and the Huskies led 14-7 with 3:34 left in the first half.

Both teams were unable to put points on the board the rest of the half and the Huskies took a 14-7 lead to the locker room.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, the Huskies were back in the endzone thanks to Green's 33-yard touchdown run during which he ran through a seam up the middle and went virtually untouched for his first collegiate score. Abbott added the extra point and the Huskies enjoyed a 21-7 advantage with 12:27 left in the third. But, Millersville responded on its first possession of the third as it drove 67 yards on 10 plays with Staffieri going the final 12 yards into the endzone. Farley added the extra point and the Huskies had their lead cut to 21-14 with 7:16 left in the third quarter.

Later in the quarter, Farley missed a 42-yard field goal which would have cut the Huskies' lead to 21-17. But, two plays later, Bloomsburg fumbled and Millersville's Brandon Sherman recovered at the Huskies' 38 to set up excellent field position. Millersville capitalized as Staffieri found Phil Overton for a 28-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter and, after Farley drilled the extra point, the game was tied at 21-21 with 14:52 left in regulation.

Bloomsburg got the ball back and regained the lead on its next possession, taking advantage of a couple of big Millersville penalties along the way. Palubinsky powered his way into the endzone from a yard out to cap off a nine-play, 63-yard drive, giving the Huskies a 28-21 lead, after Abbott's point after, with 9:35 remaining. The Huskies converted a pair of third downs on the drive - the first on a 17-yard pass from Palubinsky to redshirt sophomore Doug Strang (Malvern, Pa./Great Valley) on third-and-seven and the other on a pass interference penalty on a third-and-18. The Marauders were also flagged for a roughing the passer penalty later in the drive.

The Huskies had an opportunity to go up by ten points with 2:54 left but Morgan Faughnan blocked the 34-yard attempt by Abbott to keep the deficit at seven points. That led to Villafane's defensive heroics.

Bloomsburg amassed a season-high 477 yards of total offense - 269 on the ground and 208 through the air - while limiting Millersville to only 249 total yards on the afternoon. The three-headed monster of Gooden, Quiteh, and Green accounted for 279 yards rushing on 37 carries while the rest of the team had minus-eight yards rushing on 11 carries. Palubinsky was efficient throwing the football as he completed 12-of-19 passes for 208 yards. Allen had team-highs in catches (5) and receiving yards (87) while redshirt sophomore Jay Popson (Mountain Top, Pa./Crestwood) added three catches for 34 yards. Sophomore Ethan Price (Coopersburg, Pa./Southern Lehigh) had a 51-yard reception for his only catch of the day.

Staffieri completed 18-of-32 for 168 yards and two touchdowns and also led the Marauders with 44 yards rushing on 12 carries. Nii Kotei Nikoi had a team-high four catches while Wiggins had a team-best 43 yards receiving.

Defensively, redshirt junior Jake Klinger (Berwick, Pa./Central Columbia) had a huge day for the Huskies as he finished with seven total tackles, a career-high five tackles for a loss, and a career-best one-and-a-half sacks. Senior Eric Schwartz (York, Pa./Central York) also had seven total stops. Cameron Boykin and Tommy Halloway led Millersville with a dozen stops apiece.

Bloomsburg will return home next Saturday, October 7, to host Kutztown University in the annual Homecoming Game at Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium. Kickoff, due to television coverage, is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

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