Senior Bryan Barley (Berwyn/Conestoga) caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Zach Zulli (Schwenksville/Perkiomen Valley) with four seconds remaining on Saturday afternoon from SU Student Association Field at Seth Grove Stadium to give No. 10 Shippensburg a 49-42 victory over No. 4 Bloomsburg that clinched the PSAC Eastern Division title for the Red Raiders.
Shippensburg (9-0, 6-0 PSAC East) extended its Division II-best winning streak to 13 consecutive games and assured itself a berth in the PSAC State Game to be held November 10 from the highest Western Division seed.
With 654 yards of total offense in Saturday’s game, Shippensburg also established a new school record for total offensive yards in a season (5,179).
Bloomsburg (8-1, 5-1 PSAC East), who trailed 35-7 at halftime and 42-21 in the fourth quarter, tied the score at 42-42 with 2:39 remaining on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Tim Kelly to Ryan Dickerson. It was the first touchdown toss of the day for Kelly, who finished the game 11-of-28 for 158 yards with four interceptions.
In response, junior quarterback Zach Zulli (Schwenksville/Perkiomen Valley) drove the Red Raiders the length of the field – orchestrating a 14-play, 83-yard drive in 2:30.
Zulli, who converted four third downs on the game-winning drive, finished the game completing 35-of-60 for 496 yards – the same amount he threw for in the Week 3 win at East Stroudsburg. He also tossed an incredible seven touchdowns in addition to a pair of interceptions.
Senior Jacob Baskerville (Pottsville/Pottsville) led all players with nine receptions, totaling 135 yards. Fellow senior Mike Frenette (Carlisle/Cumberland Valley) broke his own school record for receptions in a season by a running back, hauling in eight passes for 69 yards. Barley had seven receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns. All three men tied their single-game career highs for receptions.
Sophomore Trevor Harman (Mechanicsburg/Cumberland Valley) had seven receptions for 172 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the single-season school record for receiving touchdowns (17, surpassing Jamie Ware’s 15 in 1998) and tying Ware’s school record for career receiving touchdowns (26).
The Huskies, who entered the game ranked third in the nation for rushing offense, totaled 351 yards on the ground. Of their 48 rushes, only two went for negative yardage – and both plays were just one-yard losses. Junior All-American Franklyn Quiteh had 31 carries for 268 yards and four touchdowns, including a 67-yard run to paydirt just 47 seconds into the second half.
The two teams combined for 1,163 yards of total offense but also managed nine turnovers – five by Bloomsburg and four by Shippensburg.
In addition to Kelly’s four interceptions, the Huskies fumbled their first kickoff back to the Red Raiders after SU had driven 71 yards for a score on the game’s opening drive. Frenette had an 18-yard touchdown reception on the next play from scrimmage that put the Red Raiders up 14-0 less than three minutes into the game.
Bloomsburg scored just once on eight first-half drive and turned the ball over on half of its possessions in the first 30 minutes of play. In response, Shippensburg scored touchdowns on five of its first seven possessions of the game. The Red Raiders had built their 35-7 lead with 8:38 still to play in the opening half.
SU had allowed just two touchdowns all season in the third quarter, but the Huskies scored twice in the first two minutes of the second half – the second of which was a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jarrett Pidgeon – to get within 14 points of the lead.
Pidgeon and SU sophomore linebacker Brian Sourber (Lancaster/Manheim Township) each had 13 tackles and an interception. Sourber also returned his interception for a touchdown, but the score was negated because of an illegal block on the return.
The big play of the third quarter for the Red Raiders came with 3:21 to play in the frame. On a 3rd-and-10 play, Zulli threaded a pass through space that wound up in the hands of Harman for a 45-yard touchdown that put SU up 42-21.
With 12:29 to play in the fourth quarter, Quiteh capped off a 14-play, 83-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run. SU fumbled on the next possession, and just three plays later, Quiteh ran one in from 29 yards out to make the score 42-35.
After an exchange of punts, Shippensburg drove to the Bloomsburg 33-yard line before a sack-fumble of Zulli gave the ball back to the Huskies with 4:20 remaining. On a 3rd-and-11 play, and after a timeout, Kelly found Dickerson for the 52-yard tying score.
Zulli’s game-winning drive featured many memorable plays – but the most impressive came 39 seconds remaining. Facing a 3rd-and-7 from the BU 24-yard line, SU executed a splendid screen pass – with Frenette catching Zulli’s toss just past the line of scrimmage before making his way 21 yards down the field to the 3-yard line. Three plays later, Zulli found Barley for the winning score.
Shippensburg will honor 14 seniors before its 1 p.m. kickoff next Saturday against Cheyney from SU Student Association Field at Seth Grove Stadium.
Notes: Saturday marked the first time in head coach Mark ‘Mac’ Maciejewski’s coaching career that a game was decided by less than 10 points…The Red Raiders will play in the State Game for the first time since 2009…through nine games this season, Zulli has completed 255-of-385 passes for 3,561 yards and 45 touchdowns, with just five interceptions…Zulli’s school-record streak of consecutive attempts without an interception ended at an even 200 passes…Zulli broke his own single-season school record for completions (255)…Shippensburg tied a single-season record for passing attempts (409)…with six of SU’s seven PATs, junior Michael Lloyd (Shippensburg/Shippensburg Area (King’s) set a new single-season record for PAT attempts and now has 58 on the year.