Fans at Lock Haven University will remember Saturday’s 49-6 loss against the Shippensburg University football team for a long, long time — not because of a victory, but because of a demoralizing defeat that has cemented the Bald Eagles place in the history books.
Quarterback Zach Zulli threw for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns while the defense overcame a mistake-prone first half to send LHU to its NCAA Division II record — 47th consecutive loss.
The Raiders, coming off a trouncing of Millersville University last weekend, looked sluggish throughout the first quarter. After a Zach Zulli 89-yard connection to Bryan Barley put SU up 7-0, the defense struggled to hold water, letting LHU sustain lengthy drives. It was a change of pace for this Raider team who usually takes control early throughout their contests.
The offense ran with some hiccups as well, but put up a massive amount of points as it has done throughout the past three weeks. Late in the first quarter Zulli connected with Jacob Baskerville for the score. Baskerville finished the game with 74 yards receiving on seven receptions.
LHU, trying to end its four-season misery, had an early scoring opportunity in the second quarter but a double unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved the Bald Eagles back 30 yards and resulted in a missed field goal.
However, LHU stuck around, converting on a Jarrett Kratzer touchdown pass to Jesse Hoover. It was a score that forced SU fans to hold their breath — but that feeling soon vanished.
Back-to-back touchdown passes by Zulli in a four-minute span put the Raiders up 28-6 at halftime and eliminated any momentum that LHU had gained.
The defense rebounded in the second half, with the surge of leading tackler Cody Fleming (8) and a dominating performance by defensive end Jake Metz. SU’s defense held LHU to 28 yards rushing in the contest.
A Mike Frenette rushing touchdown in with seven minutes left in the third quarter sealed the game and ended the day for the Raider starters.
Frenette has been a major contributor for the Raiders, opening up many options for the Raider offense. The Raiders have steamrolled through its opposition averaging over 54 points per game.
“He can do it all, he’s always open,” said Zulli. “When you having a running back like [Frennette] it opens up the passing game completely.”
The game however, cast some doubts among the Raider squad heading into its homecoming matchup against LIU Post on Saturday. The Raiders committed unnecessary penalties, was slow to stop the Bald Eagle offense in the early stages of the game and had a hard time finding any tempo in the offense at certain times.
Those are the things that Coach Mark Maciejewski said need to be fixed headed into the gauntlet of games in the month of October with games against LIU Post, Kutztown University, West Chester University and Bloomsburg University.
“We have to continue to improve. If we’re going to continue to reach our goal, we have to get better every week on both sides of the ball and on special teams,” said Maciejewski.
The win pushes the Raiders to 5-0 heading into its homecoming matchup against LIU Post. The Pioneers, averaging 35ppg, will be the toughest test for the SU defense since its 38-28 victory against Shepherd University.
The Bald Eagles have now replaced Minnesota-Morris College in the record books for most consecutive losses by a Division II school. The loss had left a nasty stain on an already tarnished football program. LHU is 1-57 in its last 58 games and have not won since the 2007 season finale — a, 17-14, overtime nail-biter against Clarion University.
Those six years of futility overshadow LHU’s overall presence in the PSAC. The Bald Eagles have not had a winning season since 1981, when Ronald Reagan was President, the cost of a dozen eggs was 90 cents and a gallon of gas was a meager $1.38.
LHU will look to end its losing streak against Mercyhurst University next Saturday. MU is 4-1 on the season, coming off a victory against Slippery Rock University.