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Football team eager to bury abysmal season in the past

Different Saturday, same results.

The Millersville Marauders wrapped their disappointing 2008 football season with a 38-13 loss at Edinboro University on Saturday.  The loss dropped the Marauders to a final record of 1-10 making it the Marauders’ first ten-loss season in the history of the program dating back to 1889.

The Fighting Scots ranked number 20 in Division II football, put up a school record 651 yards of total offense in another dismal defensive performance by the Marauders, it was the most yards allowed by Millersville all season long.  Edinboro held a 38-0 lead before bringing in the reserves midway through the third quarter to finish out the game.  The Marauders’ offense struggled on the day as well, after they failed to score any points until the fourth quarter by the time the game was way out of reach.

Edinboro jumped on top early and never relinquished the lead en route to their ninth win of the season.  After putting together a 95-yard touchdown drive on their first possession, the Fighting Scots tacked on 17 more points on their next three trips down the field.

Running backs Ulysee Davis and Michael combined for 274 yards on the ground along with three touchdowns against the Millersville defense.  The running backs however, were not to be outdone by quarterback Trevor Harris who finished the day with 336 yards through the air to go with a pair of touchdowns.  Edinboro built a 24-0 halftime lead before adding two more touchdowns midway through the third quarter.

The Marauders’ offense which had been moving the ball successfully in recent weeks struggled to put points on the board until the fourth quarter when sophomore quarterback Bill Shirk ran the ball in from three yards out capping off a 9-play 90-yard drive.

The Marauders added one more touchdown on the day when Shirk found senior Bobby Swier on an 8-yard touchdown pass.  Shirk finished the day 19-32 for 194 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  Shirk also totaled 53 yards for the Millersville rushing attack which was led by sophomore running back Cardoza Jacks who gained 66 yards on 14 carries.  Freshman wide receiver Matt Engenrieder led all Millersville receivers with six catches for 103 yards.

The Marauders were only able to create one turnover in the loss and that came when freshman linebacker Ryan Christian intercepted a pass.  The defense struggled to get to the quarterback and keep the offense at bay, something that plagued them for most of the season.  Millersville finished the year by allowing an average of 509 yards of offense a game.  Although there are obvious improvements that will be necessary there are also plenty of positives for the team build on as well.

“It [the season} was a disappointment hands down,” said senior offensive tackle Adam Cobb. “Obviously I didn’t like having more losses than wins with my time here, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world.”

Now that the 2008 football season has come to an end the Marauders can already begin to look to 2009.  Millersville loses only ten players from this years graduating class and expects to return 75 underclassmen, but only seven of whom will be seniors by next season.  The Marauders are hoping that this season will add to their experience, and that the teams overall talent will improve in the offseason.  “On offense, defense, or special teams it didn’t matter, we lacked the talent that other teams had” said Cobb.

Although head coach Greg Colby’s inaugural season was one to forget one would expect him to be filled with a good bit of excitement with a wealth of returning players who will have already had one season under their belts to adjust to his system.  The Millersville offense really began to take flight after coach Colby moved opening day quarterback sophomore Jamal Smith to receiver and placed backup Bill Shirk as the starter midway through the year.

Smith teamed with senior Andy Tischbein establishing a formidable threat at receiver allowing the passing game to really open up, but Tischbein will be lost to graduation so the Marauders will be looking for others tostep up.

Other positives to build upon would include the improvement in the running game once Jacks was promoted starter.  Jacks topped 100 yards in his first four starts after filling in for injuries, and with return of promising freshman Matthew Booker, the two could form a dual threat in the backfield.

Although the 2008 season did not pan out as expected for the Marauders, hope abounds for the 2009 season, and with an entire year to prepare and get ready, it is time for the fans to begin to expect bigger things.