Shippensburg pounds Cheyney, 56-0
The Shippensburg University football team’s defense has dominated this season, allowing just 11.8 points per game. The defense was stellar once again on Saturday, holding Cheyney University to a mind-blowing -3 yards of total offense and 0-of-13 on third down in a 56-0 thrashing of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division rival.
The Red Raiders (6-1, 3-1 PSAC East) ran the ball early and often, racking up 273 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in the decisive win.
“I challenged these guys about this all week, that no matter if you’re playing in front of a big crowd or a little crowd, the thing that we can control is coming out fast,” SU head coach Mark Maciejewski said. “Good teams play hard no matter what. We had a tough loss last week and I was proud of how they handled the game and how they handled the week.”
Cheyney (1-6, 0-4 PSAC East) received the opening kickoff and from the first drive it was evident that it would be a long day for the Wolves. Cheyney quarterback Dominick Trautz threw a short backward pass to running back Devin Miller, who struggled to pull in the ball, and the ball ended up on the turf. SU linebacker Steven Cain fell on the ball, to set up the Red Raiders with their first offensive possession less than two minutes into the game.
The Red Raiders needed just four plays to make the Wolves pay, as Cole Chiappialle punched in a 9-yard touchdown run just 45 seconds after the fumble, to give SU a 7-0 lead.
It was more of the same for Cheyney on its next drive, when Trautz’s pass on third down floated in the air and was intercepted by SU defensive back Kevin Taylor, who cut to the sideline and returned the interception for a 41-yard touchdown. The score was SU’s fifth defensive touchdown of the season, which is an SU record.
The Red Raiders continued to pound the running game in the first half, as running back Colin McDermott got going on SU’s next drive, punching in a 1-yard rushing touchdown to add to the Red Raider lead. Chiappialle’s 2-yard touchdown run with 12 seconds left in the opening quarter effectively put the game out of reach, as SU led 28-0.
SU’s running backs enjoyed a fantastic day as Chiappialle finished the day with three rushing touchdowns, while McDermott and London Whitfield each added two. The SU offense finished with 421 yards, as quarterback Ryan Zapoticky completed 10-of-14 passes for 126 yards in the win.
The Red Raider defense finished the game with 11 tackles for a loss, including sacks by John Durkin, Nick Drawbaugh, Alec Aspray and Tim Bradley. Safety J.T. Hopple led SU with seven tackles, while Richard Sheler forced a fumble.
Cheyney’s -3 yards was the lowest output by a team in all divisions of NCAA football thus far in 2017. The Wolves ran 47 plays on Saturday completing 8-of-24 passes for 20 while rushing for negative yards on 23 carries. Cheyney also lost 33 yards on a 4th and 3 at midfield, where the Wolves decided to punt. The ball ended up flying over the punter and setting up SU with a 1st and 10 at the Wolves 17-yard line.
The Red Raiders used the lopsided score to use all of their travel roster, as SU’s Whitfield scored his first two collegiate touchdowns on the day, while Aspray recorded his first sack as a Red Raider. Sophomore fullback Mike Cassidy received his first carry, bulldozing multiple defenders for a 13-yard gain and backup kicker Larry Eimer made his first extra point of his career.
With the win, SU ensured its seventh-straight winning season, which is its longest since 1950-1957 under Vinton Rambo and Jack Roddick, when the team posted a 50-9-4 combined record. Maciejewski, in his seventh-season, is now second all-time in career victories with a 52-23 overall record.
The Red Raiders received a break on Saturday as West Chester University fell at home to Bloomsburg University, 20-19, creating a four-way tie for first in the PSAC Eastern Division between Kutztown University, Bloomsburg, West Chester and SU.
The Red Raiders would need to win its remaining game and have West Chester suffer another loss to be able to earn a spot in the state game, however.
“Our focus has never changed, we’re just going to worry about Millersville now and I told them after the game that we’re going to focus everything on our next opponent and control what we can control,” Maciejewski said. “Right now, we can control our preparation for Millersville.”
SU returns to Seth Grove Stadium Saturday for homecoming against Millersville University. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.