After last week’s tough loss to Gannon University, Shippensburg University football coach Mark ‘Mac’ Maciejewski said the Red Raiders needed to “get back to what we do.”
Message received. The Red Raiders beat Clarion University on the ground racking up more than 330 rushing yards in a 41–17 rout of the Golden Eagles.
Cole Chiappialle led the way for SU, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns on the day. Senior running back Justin Pyle also rushed for 112 yards.
“The first thing is the line,” Chiappialle said. “The line had been working hard and they got a bad rap the first two weeks and through the first two games, but they have been working hard at practice. All of the credit goes to the line. Pyle and I had a good game, but in the end, it’s all because of the line.”
The Red Raiders fell behind early in the game, but found a way to answer. After Clarion scored on its opening drive and the Red Raiders were forced to punt, SU linebacker Allen Holman intercepted a deflected ball off a receiver’s shoulder pads and returned it for a 32-yard touchdown.
In the second quarter, SU began to impose its will on the Eagles defense.
The Red Raiders finished off an 8-play, 75-yard drive with a 6-yard rush by Chiappialle, taking a 14–10 lead.
After a Clarion touchdown, The Red Raiders responded quickly. Less than a minute later, SU quarterback Ryan Zapoticky found Kyle Haines over the middle with a defender draped all over him.
Haines made an incredible catch, despite the defensive pass interference call, which again gave the Red Raiders the lead.
SU added to that lead with three points off the foot of Billy Deane, making it 24–17 with three seconds left in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Clarion fielded the kick and SU linebacker Colin Williams ripped the ball away from the Clarion returner and returned it 30 yards for another touchdown, deflating an unlucky Clarion squad, which watched Bloomsburg University return a fumble against it last week for a touchdown.
The Red Raiders went into the locker room with a 31–17 lead and never looked back.
The Red Raiders controlled the clock in the second half, using an effective running game to wear down the Clarion defense until the final whistle.
On the defensive side of the ball, Richard Nase had a great performance, recording four tackles–three of which were sacks.
“It’s nice,” Nase said. “My first two games, I didn’t play to my full potential but I’m OK with that because it opened some things up for my teammates, and as long as the defense is improving I’m happy with that, even if I’m not doing well personally. It was nice to come out here and make some plays that helped the team when we really needed it.”
The win improved coach Maciejewski to 41–19 all-time, which moves him into a tie for fourth-place all-time on the coaching wins list with Vito Ragazzo (41–31 from 1979-85)
With the win, the Red Raiders start the 2016 campaign 2–1. The Red Raiders play against the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division opponent next week, when they will match up with East Stroudsburg University at Seth Grove Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.