The nationally ranked Bloomsburg Huskies proved too much for the Millersville Marauder football team Saturday night.
After a solid offensive outing against Shippensburg, the Marauders hoped to improve from their last game and upset the undefeated Huskies.
Bloomsburg is ranked fourth by the American Football Coaches Association and fifth on the D2Football.com poll.
Their dominance showed throughout the game, as the Marauders were unable to keep Bloomsburg out of the end zone.
The Marauders defense struggled to stop the Huskies high powered attack in the first half, giving up 35 points on five consecutive scoring drives.
Bloomsburg’s balanced passing and rushing attack was difficult for Millersville’s defense to stop.
The Huskies offensive line also did a great job protecting quarterback Dan Latorre allowing zero sacks.
The Marauders put together a couple promising offensive drives in the first half but mistakes hurt them.
On their first drive, they were able to move the ball to midfield but a holding penalty halted the drive. On their next possession, Bloomsburg was able to interrupt the Marauder’s drive with an interception.
Late in the second quarter, Millersville was able to break into Bloomsburg territory and get their first points of the game.
Junior Quarterback Bill Shirk completed four passes on the drive and rushed for a first down.
Junior Jamal Smith caught two passes for nine yards and 16 yards to help the Marauders get into field goal position.
Senior kicker John Banzhof was able to make an impressive 47 yard field goal to put the Marauders on the board.
Banzhof is known for his ability to hit long field goals. Last year against Bloomsburg, Banzhof was good from 50 yards away.
He is one of two active kickers in the PSAC division to have made field goals from 50 plus yards.
He is five for 10 on the season.
By the end of the first half, the Marauders found themselves in another huge hole down 35-3.
Playing teams tough for the entire game has been a trademark of the Marauders this season.
In the second half, Millersville held Bloomsburg to 10 points and scored a touchdown on their last possession.
Millersville head coach Greg Colby said, “ We can learn from things we see during the game, like missed assignments and we can improve on those mistakes. We played better and played hard throughout the game. We came back in the second half and played a little better.”
The Marauder’s scoring drive lasted much of the fourth quarter, eating 7:19 of the clock. Starting at their own 20 yard line, the Marauders scored 13 plays later on a one yard touchdown run by Junior Cardoza Jacks.
Quarterback Bill Shirk completed two passes on the drive, rushed three times and caught a pass from junior Jamal Smith for 21 yards.
Shirk ended the day 15 for 23 for 117 yards in the air and also had 45 rushing yards. On defense, senior Julius Carter led the Marauders with nine total tackles.
Spirits remain high for players.
The Marauders are away on Saturday against the winless Cheyney team.
Sophomore wide receiver Matt Egenrieder said, “ We can recover and I think we can finish the season strong. The defense started playing better and the offense clicked during the game against Bloomsburg.”
Coach Colby expects his team to be more physical against Cheyney. He said, “I expect the team to play hard and come out more physical.
Playing more physical will be key for the Marauders who have been outscored by a total of 171-44 in their last three games.
For any program giving up 171 points over the course of just three games is unacceptable, so these Marauders are surely doing what they can to make strides to improve.
While for the second year in a row the offense has been a strong point for the team, it is not without its deficiencies either.
It has been a rough start to the “Colby Era” at Millersville. The team is 2-15 since he took over as head coach at the beginning of last season.
That however will begin to change in the next few years, as recruits solely under the recruitment of Colby will be filling out the roster.
These players will be more suited for his style of play as the Marauders hope that will turn things around for the program that is currently in a winning drought.
Although in the eyes of the rest of the PSAC the upcoming game this week against Cheyney holds no level of real importance, the Marauders will have a significant reason of their own to do whatever it takes to win.
It is a game to stay out of the basement of the PSAC East.
Millersville won the meeting last season, but Cheyney will be out for revenge this year.
Whatever the outcome it will be just another building block for a Millersville team that is trying to dramatically improve.
It will not happen over night but the Marauders and their fans hope that one day soon it will at least happen.