By Brenden Curry
A strong finish to the 2015 season was the shot in the arm the Millersville Marauders needed. A two-game winning streak to end the season was bittersweet for the senior players as they played the final game on Senior Day.
“It was a good team win,” Millersville head coach Greg Breitbach said. “I don’t care who your opponent is, you have to play well every week. You have to learn from every game, whether it be a win or loss and improve.”
The Millersville Marauders defeated the Edinboro Fighting Scots 31-21 on Saturday night at Chryst Field at Biemsderfer Stadium. The victory broke a three-game losing streak to the Fighting Scots. Millersville has won consecutive games for the first time since 2010.
Breitbach emphasized how learning how to close out a victory and playing smart football, especially in the second half alongside taking care of the football contributed to the team’s win on Saturday.
He also stated that his team has a lot of respect for the senior class for their perseverance and dedication to the football program during many tough times. Breitbach stated that it was nice to see his players, especially to seniors have smiles on their faces in the locker room.
“We sent the seniors out on the right way,” Millersville quarterback JJ Paige said. “The seniors deserved this win.
“I went out there and played my hardest for them,” Millersville wide receiver Kevin Wiggins said. “I knew was going to be their last game and I want to get them to victory.”
For the second straight week, the Millersville offense was able to score on their first possession. Millersville quarterback JJ Paige was able to find his receivers left and right on the first drive. His first pass was a 35-yard reception by CJ Bostic.
Emerging receiver Kevin Wiggins somehow remained in bounds to catch a 13-yard reception. Millersville quarterback JJ Paige would eventually throw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Sean Quarterman.
“It gives our team confidence that we can score,” Breitbach commented on scoring on the first possession back-to-back weeks. “I think it’s important to do that and start fast.”
The Fighting Scots tied the game at seven in the beginning of the second quarter. Cory Bell ran for 59 yards to the end zone for the Edinboro’s first score.
Millersville would score twice in the second quarter. JJ Paige found running back Cimirrow Moat for a 76-yard pass to the end zone. With less than a minute left and a half, Evan Stahl kicked a 21-yard field goal to give the Marauders a 17-7 lead at halftime.
“I thought they played pretty well in the first half,” Breitbach said. “They were doing what we were trying to do within our game plan.
With five minutes remaining in the third quarter, only one play was needed for Millersville to extend their lead to 24-7. At the Edinboro 42 yard line, Paige found Moat again for a 42-yard pass.
Edinboro would respond five minutes later. Quarterback Jack Wallman threw a 61-yard pass to Darren Massey to get the Fighting Scots within 10 points at the end of the third quarter.
The Marauders would score their final touchdown with one minute left in the fourth quarter. Senior cornerback Joey Pham returned the 48 yard interception thrown by Wallman.
“I’m so happy for him,” Paige commented on Joey Pham’s intercepting touchdown. “The whole team feeds off him.”
“On his Senior Night, it was phenomenal for him to get a pick six to secure the game for us,” Wiggins said.
Edinboro would score their final touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. Mitch Thomas scored on the 91-yard kick return.
JJ Paige would finish the game with a career-high 301 passing yards. Coach Breitbach stated that he did a nice job managing football games throughout the season.
“He’s still a work in progress like all of our team,” Breitbach said. “He is learning and making better decisions with the football player and play out.
Wiggins then stated that no matter what offense you have, it starts up front with the offensive line. Him and Paige give a lot of credit to the offense’s success to the linemen.
“When they were starting to bring the heat and pressure on me, they were able to pick it up and I was able to find receivers,” Paige commented.
The offensive line is by senior Lenny Sanelli who made his 44th consecutive start.
“He brings a lot leadership and goofiness but he knows how to be a leader and take that goofiness at the same time,” Wiggins commented.
The Marauders finished the 2015 season with a record of 2-9. They look to bring the momentum from their strong finish into the off-season. He believes that with more conditioning and depth in recruiting, the team can continue to make good strides.
Breitbach stated that the two-game winning streak has taught his team how to win a game, how to win back-to-back games and how to finish. Coach Breitbach sees confidence growing his players and coaching staff.
Kevin Wiggins sees the two-game winning streak as a momentum builder going into the off-season so that they can extend their streak into next season.
“I think that we have taken some large steps forward the beginning of the season to the end,” Breitbach commented on the season. “I think there’s a lot of optimism about our program with the young kids that we have and the efforts that were making.”
“Obviously we are disappointed the season’s over because we want to keep play football, especially with the streak going,” JJ Paige said. “We got to build off these wins and keep going from there.”