It was not pretty, but in the end the Shippensburg University football team got the best of American International College, stinging the Yellow Jackets, 16-9. The win marked SU’s 500th in school history. The Raiders started playing football in 1891.
With the score 9-9, the Raiders put together a strong drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by running back Justin Pyle, sealing the victory for the Raiders. Saturday was a big day for Pyle, who tallied the winning touchdown, 17 yards on nine carries, and a career-high 10 receptions for 141 yards.
Despite a closely contested score, SU outgained American International 440-266, but the Red Raider’s offense stalled in the red zone. SU was held to field goals on three of its five trips inside the Yellow Jackets 20-yard line. SU Kicker Billy Deane finished 3-4 on field goal attempts, including a 27-yard field goal.
The Raiders struggled early in the game, falling behind 2-0, after Pyle was tackled in the end zone for a Yellow Jackets safety. The Raiders were often pinned deep in their own territory, starting a drive from their four-yard line and one from the one-yard line.
Right before the first quarter ended, Deane put the Raiders on top 3-2 with a field goal, but the Yellow Jackets answered right back with an eight-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a Rico Facey rushing touchdown, giving American International a 9-3 lead. Two field goals by Deane tied the score at nine before Pyle’s touchdown.
The touchdown for the Red Raiders capped off a 10-play, 84-yard drive and was easily the best showing of the day for the high-powered offense. Quarterback Ryan Zapoticky hooked up with redshirt freshman wide receiver Kyle Haines for a 51-yard pass that helped the Raiders march down the field quickly. Haines reeled in two passes in the game, accounting for 56 yards.
It was a great day for Zapoticky even though he did not find the end zone. Zapoticky shredded last season’s No. 1 ranked pass defense in Division II. The Yellow Jackets allowed just 132.5 passing yards per game last season, but Zapoticky was up to the challenge. Zapoticky finished 27-35 for 366 yards and one interception. Zapoticky did a great job spreading the ball around, completing passes to eight different receivers on the day.
The Raiders received a great effort on the defensive side of the ball from linebackers Allen Holman and Kevin Goldsmith, who each registered seven tackles on the day. The defense allowed 310 yards of total offense for the Yellow Jackets, but kept them in check on third down. The Yellow Jackets could not muster many first downs, going 4-18 on third down attempts against the Red Raider defense. American International was forced to punt 10 times.
For SU, Cole Chiappialle had a great start to his career as a member of the Red Raiders. Chiappialle had 25 yards on the ground, three receptions for 35 yards and 16 yards on two punt returns. Chiappialle is a transfer running back from Pennsylvania State University.
With the win, the Red Raiders improved to 500-410-31 all-time. The win improves SU head coach Mark “Mac” Maciejewski to 40-18 as head coach of the team. The team has never endured a losing season under Coach Mac.
SU’s win comes in its first ever matchup with American International and the Red Raiders are now 7-3 all-time against schools from the Northeast-10 Conference.
The Red Raiders improved to 1-0 on the season and will host their next three games at Seth Grove Stadium. Saturday Sept. 10 SU opens Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play against Gannon University. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.