Football: Raider football struggles continue
The Shippensburg University football team struggled on a chilly September night in its first PSAC game of the season, falling 58–38 to Slippery Rock University.
The Raiders’ difficulties began from the first SRU possession. The Rock scored off its second play from scrimmage. A 61-yard run from SRU’s Shamar Greene put the Raiders behind 7–0 just 30 seconds into the game.
The deficit only got deeper from there.
SRU scored 30 unanswered points in the first half. SU got its first points of the game from a 15-yard pass from Zach Zulli to Justin Pyle midway through the second quarter.
Zulli passed for 340 yards, completed 32 of his 65 pass attempts and threw for three touchdowns.
Nigle Barksdale was equally as efficient for SRU. Barksdale threw for 304 yards, completing 19 of his 35 pass attempts and threw four touchdowns.
Barksdale led The Rock to a 44–10 lead going into half time.
“We were playing sloppy football and not doing what we were supposed to do out there. There is no excuse for that,” SU head coach Mark Maciejewski said.
Penalties are what hurt the Raiders throughout the entire game. SU tallied 12 penalties in the game. Most of them stalling efficient drives for the Raiders, thus making them lose momentum.
SU did come out of half time with a spark. The Raiders scored three-straight touchdowns in the third quarter.
SU’s Blair Brooks got the scoring started with a one-yard run and Zulli added two touchdown passes, the first to Sheldon Mayer and the second to Trevor Harman. Harman made a great play on a screen pass from Zulli and took it down field 60 yards to the end zone.
Harman had a career night, accounting for eight catches, 120 yards and one touchdown. Harman passed 2,000 career yards in Saturday’s loss to SRU. The 120-yard night was Harman’s eighth 100-yard receiving game of his career.
Mayer also set career highs in Saturday’s game. Mayer had nine receptions for 71 yards, both career highs for Mayer. Mayer also had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown, the first since 1998 for SU.
The Raiders’ second- half push ultimately failed when The Rock scored two consecutive touchdowns, one late in the third quarter and the other early in the fourth quarter, deflating the Raiders hopes of a comeback.
“I’m proud of the way they kept fighting the whole game…I’ll give those kids a lot of credit for that,” Maciejewski said.
The Raiders outshined Slippery Rock in a few aspects of the game. The Raiders accumulated 353 passing yards compared to the Rock’s 304, along with time of possession. The Raiders possessed the ball for 30 minutes, 51 seconds, SRU held the ball for 29 minutes, nine seconds.
The Raiders look to bounce back from two disappointing losses when they take on East Stroudsburg University next Saturday.
The Warriors will be another tough competitor for the Raiders being that it is SU’s first PSAC East matchup.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m at Seth Grove Stadium on the campus of Shippensburg.