Compared to a year ago, five overtimes were not necessary to determine the outcome of the opening game of Millersville’s football season.
The Marauders defeated the Pace University Setters by a score of 28-7 on Thursday night at Biemesderfer Stadium. The Setters’ lone score came in the 4th quarter from Jhalen Bien-Aime who would rush for 31 yards to the end zone.
“It gives us a lot of confidence building from where we left off last year,” Millersville head coach Greg Breitbach said. “Our guys are excited about the season. It’s just a great night to be a Marauder.”
With the victory, the Marauders have won three straight games for the first time since 2006.
It is also the first time they won their season opener since 2012.
“It feels pretty good being 1-0 in the season,” Millersville defensive end Tim Esham said.
After Millersville won the coin toss, quarterback JJ Paige led the offense down the field. By utilizing both the passing and running games, he got Millersville in scoring position.
At the Pace 23 yard line, he found Kevin Wiggins leaping in the top left corner of the end zone to punch in the first score.
The Marauders racked up 77 yards on the first drive which lasted eight plays. It provided them with a fast start that became an indicator of the game’s tempo.
“Just scoring on the first drive really gave us a lot of momentum,” running back Phil Overton said. “It made us feel that we can do this every time.”
Millersville’s next touchdown came from freshman linebacker Jaleel Robinson. He returned a 13 yard interception late in the first quarter to give Millersville a 13-0 lead.
Despite having two field goal attempts blocked in the first quarter, the Marauders kept on moving forward. Millersville cornerback Alpha Khan recovered a Pace fumble forced by linebacker Rob Varner late in the period.
In the second quarter, Pace kicker Pat Davis missed a field goal wide left from 42 yards out. Meanwhile in the third quarter, Millersville kicker Evan Stahl missed his third field goal of the night.
The scoring remained stalled until the fourth quarter. Paige threw the ball to the left side from the 5 yard line. A wide open Tyler Zilen retrieved the pass and dashed into the end zone. On the next play, Zilen would then go on to score a two-point conversion.
Millersville would then extend its lead to 28-0 midway through the final quarter. A wide open Jaleel Robinson returned a 38 yard interception for his second defensive touchdown.
“We knew that Jaleel [Robinson] was a special athlete,” Breitbach said. “He is very bright and very competitive.”
JJ Paige fulfilled his duties of managing the game and protecting the football. He completed 24 passes out of 36 attempts with two touchdowns. He also rushed for 40 yards in the victory.
“He did a phenomenal job today,” Esham commented on Paige. “I’m excited to see what he does the season.”
Along with Paige, sophomore Phil Overton also carried the Marauder rushing game. His 57 yards on 16 carries propelled the offense to score points and gave Paige good field position.
Overton gives a lot of credit to the offensive line. They made the job of the running backs easier by creating big holes that were easy to find in the line of scrimmage.
“Our offensive line did a really nice job,” Breitbach said. “There’s something to build on there for sure,”
Like Overton, Paige praises his offensive line for performing in a way that allowed him to manage the game.
“When the offensive line is blocking that well, it’s easy for me,” Paige said. “They communicated well, picked up the blitzes, and they let me know where they were coming from.”
Their performance on Thursday night is a sign that things are heading in the right direction for Coach Breitbach and his Marauders.
Including last season, the Marauders have a three game winning streak. Paige also stated that the team will build momentum to go for a fourth consecutive win next week.
“It’s another win,” Breitbach said. “All you can do is go 1-0 every week and focus on the next opponent.”
The Marauders will remain at home for their next game of the season. They will defend Biemesderfer Stadium against Seton Hill on Saturday, September 10th at 4pm.