On the heels of a pair of last-second losses to Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division powerhouses, the Shippensburg University football team got just what it needed: A matchup against the porous Millersville University defense.
The Red Raiders (2-5, 2-2 PSAC) dominated both sides of the ball to get back in the win column with a 27-0 victory over Millersville (2-5, 1-3 PSAC) Saturday afternoon at Seth Grove Stadium on homecoming weekend.
In its most dominant offensive showing of the season, the Red Raiders posted a bounty of standout individual performances.
Most notably, graduate student Luke Durkin rushed for 213 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. The yardage is the most for a Red Raider since John Kuhn totaled 234 yards against Millersville 15 years ago. On an afternoon where he battered the Marauder defense, Durkin picked up as many rushing first downs on his own as Millersville did as a team.
Redshirt senior Kyle Haines, who had 12 catches in six games entering Saturday’s game, reeled in eight catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns. The receiving yards were a career high, while the receptions and yards tied Haines’ career highs.
“Kyle has been a soldier for us for all five years he’s been in our football family,” said coach Mark Maciejewski. “He’s just one of those guys who works hard and when opportunities present themselves, he capitalizes.”
Redshirt sophomore Brycen Mussina was economical through the air, completing 18-of-26 passes for 223 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He moved into seventh place on SU’s all-time passing yardage list.
Defensively, the Red Raiders pitched their first shutout since Oct. 13, 2018, against these same Marauders.
Millersville totaled minus 29 rushing yards (which includes yards lost on sacks). It was the ninth time in program history that the Red Raiders forced an opponent into a negative rushing yardage total.
The Red Raiders notched six sacks, including two apiece from redshirt junior Tim Bradley and redshirt freshman Quill Adams. SU forced Millersville to punt six times.
After spinning its wheels on its first three drives, the Shippensburg offense found its footing early in the second quarter. The Red Raiders exploded for three touchdowns in the frame: a 48-yard burst from Durkin and 15 and 30-yard passing scores from Mussina to Haines.
The Red Raiders stifled the Marauders defensively in the first half, holding Millersville to a putrid 31 yards from scrimmage on 25 plays.
Shippensburg’s offense did not put up the same numbers in the second half, but remained efficient nonetheless. It scored just once, a 25-yard rushing score for Durkin — his second of the day. But the Red Raiders controlled the time of possession battle and were able to grind down the clock in the easy victory.
The win was the Red Raiders’ 16th in a row against Millersville, a streak that dates back to 1997.
Now with two wins and two last-second losses in their last four games, the Red Raiders are trending in the right direction with four games remaining in the season.
“As long as we keep playing with passion, pride and emotion,” Maciejewski said. “I always talk to our guys about being emotionally connected to the game, and they’ve been doing that. And it has shown the last few weeks.”
Shippensburg will head to Kutztown University next Saturday to take on the undefeated Golden Bears at 2 p.m. at Andre Reed Stadium.