Going into the season, it appeared that redshirt sophomore, Tony Staffieri, would take the reins at quarterback from JJ Paige. However, two fumbles and an interception plagued his debut.
The Millersville football team lost their season opener on the road to Pace University by a score of 28-20. A late, Marauder offensive surge in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough to start the season off with a road victory.
Millersville head coach Greg Breitbach stated that the team showed resiliency despite putting themselves in a hole in the first half.
“I think they believed that they could win it,” Breitbach commented on his players.
On Staffieri’s first possession as quarterback, he fumbled at the Pace 33-yard line. The following three first drives ended in another fumble, turnover on downs and an interception.
Despite the miscues, Breitbach comment that Staffieri was good on his feet. Especially, when he ran the ball in the first half.
Breitbach stated that the quarterback change in the third quarter was made because he sensed a need of continuity on the offense.
“We just needed to get into a continuity offensively, and make some plays,” Breitbach said. “It didn’t happen early on, so I felt like the team needed a shot in the arm.”
Pace would extend their 14-0 lead, as the third quarter began.
A 57-yard kickoff return by Pace’s Dekyri Mims allowed the Setters to begin their drive at the Millersville 28. Setter quarterback Dan Anerella tossed a 21-yard pass to Nick Devere to extend their lead to 21-0 after a pass interference call on Millersville.
“Our team played much better in the second half,” Breitbach said. “We put some drives together and points on the board.”
The Marauder offense received that “shot in the arm” when backup quarterback Collin Shank came into the game. He led the Marauders on a 64- yard scoring drive that included a 23-yard reception to Kobe Miranda. Miranda would go onto score a 2-yard touchdown to end the drive.
“They both (Shank and Staffieri) knew the scenario coming into the game that we need to come out offensively and show that continuity,” Breitbach commented on his quarterbacks.
Shank would go on to score Millersville’s final touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Both scores were rushing plays. However, after Shank’s 16-yard rushing touchdown, Joseph Farley missed the extra point attempt.
Millersville would get the ball back with 3:19 left on the clock. A holding call on Millersville would erase Tyler Zilen’s 14 yard reception. Shank would then make another 14 yard reception to Kevin Wiggins from their own 29. Shank was then sacked on fourth and 10, which sealed their fate.
Despite falling short in the fourth quarter, Millersville was able to lead in total yards, passing yards and first downs.
On offense, Collin Shank threw for 145 yards, completing 12 of 27 passing attempts. In addition to his two touchdowns, Shank rushed for a total of 28 yards and two scores. Kobe Miranda caught six passes for 55 yards and finished with 43 rushing yards. Miranda would lead the Marauders in receiving and rushing for the night.
On defense, fifth-year senior Sean Dugan finished the night with 10 tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss.
Breitbach emphasized that in order to get the first win next week, ball security, decision-making and blocking will prevent untimely turnovers. He also stressed on improvement in special teams and areas on defense. But most importantly, he focused on the importance of play making in critical situations.
This season, Breitbach and his Marauders are approaching the schedule as a “one-game season.” To them, their next game at Seton Hill is a new season. He believes that trusting the process will allow them to count more wins than losses this season.
“We’re going to take it step-by-step, day-by-day,” Breitbach commented. “You can’t put the cart ahead of the horse.