Monday, November 6, 2017

Slow Start, Big Plays Doom Huskies Football Saturday Afternoon At Shippenburg

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - The Bloomsburg University football team allowed 20 first-quarter points and could not dig itself out of the hole as the Huskies dropped a 20-6 decision at Shippensburg University on Saturday afternoon in front of more than 5,300 fans at Seth Grove Stadium. It was the second consecutive loss for the Huskies, who fell to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division. The Red Raiders improved to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in divisional play.

Bloomsburg was limited to just a pair of field goals from redshirt junior Ryan Abbott on Saturday as the Huskies saw their streak of 125 consecutive games of scoring a touchdown come to an end. The Huskies also saw their string of 62 straight games of reaching double figures in scoring on the road come to a halt.

Things looked promising for the Huskies at the outset as redshirt junior Dexter Jordan picked off Shippensburg quarterback Ryan Zapoticky at the Shippensburg 28-yard line on the very first play from scrimmage. Jordan returned the pick 21 yards to set up a first-and-goal at the seven. However, in a sign of things to come for the Bloomsburg offense, the Huskies managed to gain only three yards on the drive and had to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Abbott with 12:37 left in the opening quarter.

Then, the roof caved in as the Red Raiders used three big plays on their next three drives to take a 20-3 advantage.

On the fourth play of Shippensburg's ensuing possession, Zapoticky found a hole and scampered 54 yards for a touchdown and, after Billy Deane added the extra point, the hosts took a 7-3 lead with 11:32 left in the first quarter. Then, on Shippensburg's next drive, Zapoticky launched a deep pass just before getting sacked by redshirt junior Chris Gary and connected with Winston Eubanks on an 83-yard touchdown to extend the Red Raiders' lead to 13-3. Bloomsburg went three-and-out on its next drive and the Zapoticky-to-Eubanks connection hooked up again on Shippensburg's next possession - this time for a 64-yard touchdown - and the Red Raiders took a 20-3 lead with 5:13 left in the opening quarter.

When the dust settled, Shippensburg amassed 244 yards and 20 points in the opening quarter as the Huskies were forced to play catch up. But, unfortunately, for Bloomsburg, the only other points came on a 36-yard field goal from Abbott with 45 seconds left in the first half to cut the Shippensburg lead to 20-6.

Both teams had chances in the second half but neither team was able to dent the scoreboard the rest of the way.

Bloomsburg's defense settled down immensely after the rough first quarter as the Red Raiders mustered only 149 yards of offense over the final 45 minutes of action. But, the Huskies' offense struggled to mount much pressure against the PSAC's top defense. Bloomsburg finished the day with just 224 yards of total offense and only eight first downs. Shippensburg finished with 393 yards of offense.

Redshirt sophomore Alex Gooden led the Huskies on the ground with 64 yards on 12 carries. Redshirt sophomore Qmac Quiteh added 53 yards on 13 carries as the Huskies finished the day with 103 yards on the ground against the Red Raider defense. Quiteh now needs 96 yards next Saturday in the season finale to reach 1,000 yards for the season. It would give Bloomsburg a 1,000-yard rusher for the eighth consecutive season.

Redshirt senior Chris Palubinsky completed just 11-of-36 passes for 121 yards and three interceptions. Redshirt sophomore Michael Allen caught a team-high four balls for 47 yards.

For Shippensburg, Colin McDermott led the ground game with 65 yards on 13 carries. Zapoticky completed 13-of-24 for 236 yards and two scores but was picked off three times. He entered the contest with only two interceptions through the first nine games. Eubanks caught three passes for 174 yards and both scores.

Other than three plays that totaled 201 yards in the first quarter, the Huskies' defense was superb. The Red Raiders totaled 192 yards on their other 65 plays on the afternoon. Redshirt junior Nate Monroe posted a career-high 11 total tackles to lead the way in that department. Redshirt sophomore Alex Annan had a career-high 10 stops while redshirt junior Jake Klinger continued to torment opposing quarterbacks as he finished with a career-high-tying ten tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and 2.5 sacks. Klinger now has 18 tackles for a loss and nine sacks on the season. Redshirt junior Chris Gary had a pair of sacks and forced two fumbles - one of which he recovered. Jordan had two interceptions - his first two of the season - while senior Eric Schwartz had the other.

Dennis Robinson led Shippensburg with 13 total tackles. Richard Nase had three sacks.

Coupled with West Chester's 27-24 win at Millersville on Saturday which puts the Golden Rams in the State Game against third-ranked IUP, the Huskies will now host the Clarion Golden Eagles next Saturday, November 11, in the final game of the 2017 season. Kickoff from Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. The two teams met earlier this season in Clarion with Bloomsburg coming away with a 29-20 victory. The Huskies will honor 16 seniors prior to the opening kickoff.

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