Things are beginning to look like 2008 for Millersville football team, and that’s not a good thing. Millersville’s defense crumbled again on Saturday as the Shippensburg Red Raiders took it to the Marauders during the first night game in Millersville since 2007.
Shippensburg amassed 566 total yards of offense against the Marauders’ porous defense as the Red Raiders came away on top with a final score of 63-24. This marks the second week in a row Millersville has yielded 63 points in a game. Last weekend, the Marauders fell to West Chester by a score of 63-10.
While the offense did not do too much to help the defense last weekend against West Chester, they did what they could by tallying 24 points this week against the Red Raiders. Senior running back Brad Lantz carried the load on the gound for a season-high of 107 yards. The offense kept the game close midway through the same quarter as a run by sophomore receiver Matt Egenrieder ran the ball in from 11 yards out to pull the team within four points at 21-17 with just over seven and a half minutes remaining in the half.
It would not be enough, however, as Shippensburg would score 35 unanswered points before Millersville scored their final touchdown on the day. Senior quarterback Bill Shirk threw for 130 yards and found receiver Jamal Smith in the endzone twice on the day to go with his one interception thrown. It was not a very good day for the special teams as well, as they had two field goals blocked and one missed as.
Shippensburg had no problem moving the ball up and down the field on they day as they gained 354 yards on the ground, and another 212 through the air on 15-of-19 passing. The Red Raiders averaged an impressive 7.9 yards per carry.
Things started off well for the Marauders this season, in which they were hoping to bury memories of last season’s 1-10 finish in head coach Greg Colby’s inaugural year. After opening the season with a win against Assumption College, Millersville dropped two games against tough opponents that they very well could have won but just could not put everything together at the right time. Although they came away with those losses to Slippery Rock and IUP, the Marauders took away positives from each game, especially the IUP game because they lost only 17-3 compared to a 63-3 defeat in 2008.
However, the Marauder’s defense over the last week has played like the defense from last year. Things do not seem to be getting brighter for Millersville as they prepare to play against fourth ranked Bloomsburg this week. Bloomsburg is 5-0 and is just coming off a 28-14 victory of C.W. Post. The Huskies have taken the last nine meetings against the teams and look to extend that streak this weekend.
If the Marauders hope to turn things around this weekend, they will have to hope to get off to a hot start. The Marauders have opened games sluggishly this season, as they have been outscored 42-3 in the first quarter at this point during the season.
Bloomsburg does not feature a great offense but they have a very stout defense their offense. This match-up could present the potential for an upset this week, with Millersville experienced offense they can put points on the board in a hurry.
“It is very important to try and score first, in case we get put into a perdicament where the other team keeps putting points up on our defense,” junior running back Akeem Johnson said. “Just like I believed the last few weeks, that if we can keep our heads up and play hard we can come out with an upset.”
The Marauders, however, feel like they are right there in terms of stringing together a few more wins this season.
“We have it on both sides of the ball,” Johnson said. “It’s just a matter of bringing everything together. We just have to go as hard as we do when we first start the game.” That will be vital against a disciplined Huskies team.
“We play with a lot of togetherness. We’re still young but overall we work good together and we’re intense,” Johnson said. “We just have to bring the fun back into the game.”
The fun starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Bloomsburg University.