On a team where Jacob Baskerville and Trevor Harman get the most recognition for their gaudy receiving statistics, it is sometimes easy to overlook Bryan Barley.
Barley, who stands at 5 feet 11 inches, is the shortest among his receiving brethren, but on Saturday, he stood the tallest of anyone on the Shippensburg University football squad.
Barley, having an injury prone season, had a stellar game on Saturday with seven receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
His second touchdown will be one he will not forget.
Tied against the No.4 team in the nation with four seconds left to play, Bryan Barley splayed out in the back right-hand corner of the end zone, snatching more than a touchdown pass — he snatched away Bloomsburg University’s PSAC dreams, and pocketed SU’s own PSAC East title.
He snatched SU’s return to the PSAC Championship game for the second time in four years.
His thoughts after he caught the game-winning pass? He paused, smiled and said “Oh my God.”
Oh my God is exactly right.
With the ground shaking, and the bleachers rattling, the Raiders’ biggest game since the 2009 PSAC Championship game was an emotional roller coaster for the 7,000 plus on hand at Seth Grove Stadium.
In fact, SU’s 49-42 win on Saturday lived up to its “Game of the Week” title in every way. The clash of the unbeatens yielded a football game that left many students in awe when they exited Student Association Field with many stating what Barley had, “Oh my God.”
However, the game did not live up to its hype in the first half.
SU stormed out of the gate and caught the Huskies flat-footed early on. After a Zach Zulli strike to Trevor Harman put the Raiders up by seven, the Raiders took advantage of a muffed BU kick-off return to put another touchdown on the board 14 seconds later.
The 14 points in 14 seconds quelled the cheers from the Husky bleachers and sent Seth Grove Stadium into a frenzy.
The Raiders, feeding off of the crowds’ energy, which was spearheaded by the Red Sea, took advantage of four BU turnovers, including three interceptions from quarterback Tim Kelly, to build a 35-7 lead going into the half.
After the half the emotional roller coaster began.
Fifty seconds into the second half, BU’s running back, Franklyn Quiteh proved why he is second in the nation in rushing yards as he busted through the SU defensive line en route to a 67-yard touchdown.
Quiteh, who was made a non-factor in the first half despite rushing for 112 yards, exploded in the second half for the Huskies. He racked up 156 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. Quiteh finished with 268 yards and four touchdowns on the day.
Then, less than one minute later, leading tackler Jarrett Pidgeon picked off an errant Zulli pass and returned it 39-yards for the score to cut SU’s lead to 14.
Zulli, who threw for five touchdowns and 330 yards in the first half, looked rattled in the third quarter, overthrowing receivers and forcing bad decisions including the Pidgeon interception.
“Adrenaline really hit me in the third quarter,” Zulli said, “The adrenaline was really forcing me to overthrow a lot of balls in that quarter.”
The turnover bug hit SU at the wrong time, as the Raiders coughed up the ball twice in the second half and allowed the Huskies to outscore the Raiders 35-14 in the half.
“[BU] won the turnover battle in the second half and that’s what made this game a 0-0 game,” said SU head coach Mark Maciejewski. “I said turnovers would be a big matter and that’s what it was today.”
No turnover was as big as Zulli’s fumble late in the fourth quarter that set up Tim Kelly’s touchdown pass to knot the game at 42 with four minutes left to play.
Four minutes was just too much time to give SU’s offense.
The Raiders drove down the field methodically, and with less than one minute to go in the game. Tailback Mike Frenette drove the ball to the two-yard line.
Barley’s diving catch in the corner of the end zone two plays later ignited Seth Grove Stadium. Barley held up the ball with a smile that a four-year-old has on Christmas morning as he sprinted toward the sideline in jubilation.
The PSAC East title was theirs.
Game Notes: Trevor Harman and Jacob Baskerville had exceptional games. Harman finished the day with 7 receptions for 172 yards and three touchdowns. Baskerville finished with 9 receptions for 135 yards. Zulli was 35-60 for 496 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. BU’s Franklyn Quiteh ran 31 times for 268 yards and four touchdowns in the game. Tim Kelly was 11-27 for 158 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
For more photos from the game click here