In a game that saw many peaks and valleys as quarterback Tony Staffieri described, the Marauders fell to the Huskies 28-21.
He stated that it was great to be back out with the team and competing at home after coming back from injury. Staffieri admitted that he was anxious of coming back into competitive action before the game.
“You get into close games, you got to find a way to win them,” Millersville head coach Greg Breitbach said.
The Marauder defense made a big play on Bloomsburg’s first drive of the game. Bloomsburg quarterback Chris Palubinsky was sacked by Marcel Mingo for a loss of 11 yards. The ball popped out and was recovered by fifth-year senior Sean Dugan.
Dugan nearly returned the fumble for a touchdown with an open field in his vicinity. He would return the fumble for 50 yards before being stopped by Bloomsburg’s Jack Gaugler.
Sadly, Millersville wasn’t able to capitalize on that early turnover. The howling winds prevented Joey Farley from scoring the game’s first points with a field goal attempt going way right.
The first quarter would remain scoreless until Qmac Quiteh ran into the end zone for Bloomsburg. However, Millersville had momentum going into score as the quarter ended.
The Marauders were able to capitalize early in the second quarter when Staffieri found senior Kevin Wiggins kneeling in the end zone to catch the low pass. Wiggins’s 23-yard reception with ended a 60-yard drive that tied the game 7-7.
Bloomsburg ate up nearly 10 minutes of the second quarter. Bloomsburg running back Alex Gooden dashed into the end zone to wrap up an 18 play, 94-yard drive.
“I knew it was going to be a four-quarter game,” Staffieri said.
Bloomsburg’s pounding ground game made an immediate impact after halftime. A 33-yard run by Tre Green allowed the Huskies to took a 21-7 lead.
“The running backs ran hard,” Breitbach commented on the Bloomsburg running game. “They were able to sustain a better running game than we did.”
Millersville was able to answer with stellar running performances of their own. Staffieri used his mobility to find a hole in the middle of the field to run 12 yards into the end zone to get the Marauders within one score. It was also his first running touchdown of the season.
On Millersville’s next possession, Staffieri marched the offense down the field to the Bloomsburg 25. The wind was once again a factor when Farley missed the second field goal attempt of the game.
Shortly after Bloomsburg took over, Marauder defensive lineman Tanner Dean forced Qmac Quiteh to fumble the ball with cornerback Brendan Sherman recovering at the Bloomsburg 38.
‘We had a couple great turnovers that had the momentum riding our way,” Staffieri said. “Our defense has a ton of playmakers over there.”
Millersville was able to capitalize on this turnover early in the fourth quarter. Staffieri found Phil Overton for a 28-yard touchdown reception. Overton’s touchdown tied the game at 21-21.
The Huskies were able to break the tie due to costly penalties committed by Millersville. Palubinsky capped the winning drive for the Huskies.
With less than three minutes left in the game, the Marauder special-teams allowed Staffieri and company to come back out onto the field.
The Marauder line charged into the Bloomsburg line. The minute the ball went up in the air, Millersville’s Morgan Faughnan was able to block the kick.
Breitbach stated that the way special teams played was a bright side from the defeat.
“They certainly gave us a chance,” Breitbach commented on special teams.
Staffieri found Wiggins for an 11 yard first down conversion on third down to give the Marauders new life. However, a false start penalty on Millersville derailed them from converting on fourth down in a critical part of the game.
On fourth and 14 with less than a minute left, Staffieri eyed for the wide-open Wiggins for the first down. Somehow, Bloomsburg’s Jordan Villafane was able to deflect the pass.
“It seemed like it was hanging forever,” Staffieri commented on the fateful pass to Wiggins on fourth down. “I thought we had a great opportunity to make a great drive there.”
Despite losing a hard-fought close game to Bloomsburg on Saturday, coaches on both teams were among 500+ collegiate coaches participating in the Coach To Cure MD charity, in order to spread awareness and find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
The Marauders also hosted an 11-year-old child with the condition and his mother who is a Millersville alum on the sidelines during the first half. Breitbach stated that having them on the sidelines was an uplifting thing for him, his players and coaching staff.
Like many college football coaches last weekend, Breitbach wore the organization’s patch on his jacket. For him, the patch represents a good friend of his who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy 20 years ago. To this day, his friend is still fighting the disease while coaching college football in Montana.
“For me it’s personal,” Breitbach commented on the patch. “It means a lot to me that the American Football Coaches Association is trying to raise money to defeat muscular dystrophy.”
The Marauders have a short week of preparation as they travel to the peaks and valleys of the Poconos to face East Stroudsburg.
“I feel that this was another one we could’ve had,” Staffieri commented on the close loss to Bloomsburg. “Obviously you’re disappointed.”
Staffieri would also mention that in order to finish games, focus and keeping their energy up are crucial to tally more victories this season.
“There’s no moral victories for us, this is a loss,” Staffieri said. “We expect to win every game.”