Jump aboard the winning Ship
The Shippensburg University football team put up 41 points in the first half of Saturday’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference crossover against Slippery Rock University — including three touchdowns in the final 4:24 before halftime, en route to a 55-35 victory over The Rock from SU Student Association Field at Seth Grove Stadium.
The Raiders achieved its first 2-0 start since 2004 by putting up 566 yards of total offense against an SRU squad that led the PSAC a year ago in total defense, allowing just over 261 yards a game. After two games in 2012 against defenses that finished last season ranked among the Top 5 in Division II, the Raiders have totaled 1,026 yards of total offense and scored 93 points.
Junior quarterback Zach Zulli threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns in the first half of Saturday¹s game and also caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from senior fullback Kevin Herod. Zulli finished the game 22-of-41 for 348 yards. Through two games, he has thrown for 740 yards and eight touchdowns.
Senior tailback Mike Frenette ran the ball 16 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns. His 70-yard run to pay-dirt in the fourth quarter marked the third time in his career he has had a touchdown carry of 70 yards or more in a game. He also had two receptions for 42 yards and another touchdown.
Senior Jacob Baskerville had six catches for a career-high 126 yards and a touchdown to pace the receivers. Sophomore Trevor Harman racked up five receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown.
SU opened the game with an eight-play, 57-yard drive for a touchdown that was capped off with a three-yard pitch and catch from Zulli to Harman. On SRU’s ensuing drive, lightning and inclement weather resulted in a delay that lasted almost one hour. When play resumed at 2:13 p.m., SRU quickly advanced into SU territory but had its drive stall out six plays later with a turnover on downs.
The Raider defense notched the game’s second score, as junior Jake Metz had a screen pass end up in his lap and he returned the interception for a touchdown to put SU up,14-0, with 2:28 to go in the first quarter. However, SRU used a 45-yard kickoff return and a 46-yard touchdown pass to get a score of its own just 40 seconds later, and the game’s frenzied offensive pace was in full force.
The turning point came late in the second quarter. A Baskerville 35-yard touchdown reception capped a four-play, 80-yard series that and put the Raiders up 28-14. With 4:18 on the clock, The Rock then began a drive on its own 18-yard line.
On the first play of the series, junior Dainen Green knocked SRU quarterback Jared Buck out of the game with a devastating blind-side sack. The play resulted in a 12-yard loss, and SRU ended up having to punt from just in front of their end zone.
Given good field position, SU reached the 30-yard line of SRU before Zulli converted a fourth-and-10 play with a high-arcing toss to Frenette for a touchdown that put SU up 35-14. After a three-and-out, the Raiders got the ball back again with 1:04 left on the clock. Zulli orchestrated a 7-play, 75-yard drive in just 43 seconds, concluding the series with a 20-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Sheldon Mayer that gave SU a 41-14 halftime lead.
Other than its kneel down at the end of the game, SU had just five possessions in the second half. The Red Raiders cemented the victory with 10:01 to play in the contest when Frenette’s two-yard touchdown plunge capped off a 13-play, 75-yard drive.