Story and photo courtesy of Shippensburg Athletics
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – Six different seniors scored the first seven touchdowns of the game on Senior Day on Saturday afternoon as the No. 7-ranked Shippensburg University football team cruised past Cheyney, 61-9, from SU Student Association Field at Seth Grove Stadium in its PSAC East finale and final tune-up before next weekend’s PSAC Championship Game.
The Raiders (10-0, 7-0 PSAC East) will face off next Sat., Nov. 10, against PSAC Western Division champion and No. 14-ranked Indiana (Pa.).
The game will be played at 2:05 p.m. and telecast live on PCN from the Crimson Hawks’ George P. Miller Stadium as the West champion holds the right to host the State Game this season. IUP clinched the West title with a 38-35 victory over Gannon and No. 22 California’s (Pa.) 40-7 loss to Mercyhurst on Saturday afternoon.
Shippensburg set two more single-season records on Saturday to bring its total to seven single-season records set – and 40 total records broken or tied – in 2012. The Raiders recorded 25 first downs to run its season total to 287, breaking the 281 from last year’s team.
SU also scored two touchdowns on fumble returns – by senior defensive tackle Mark Kahlil Smith and sophomore linebacker Chase Fleming – to bring its total to five defensive scores this season – surpassing the previous record of four defensive touchdowns by the 1999 squad.
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the Shippensburg defense held the opposing team to zero passing yards as Cheyney (1-9, 0-7) quarterbacks combined to go 0-for-3 passing with an interception on Saturday. It’s the fifth time in school history and the first time since 1953 that an SU defense has held an opponent to zero or fewer yards passing.
Junior quarterback Zach Zulli set the career passing yardage mark as he threw for 284 yards, giving him 6,586 in just 21 career games. Zulli also threw four touchdowns to run his season total to 49. Senior quarterback Jeff Tomasetti earned the Senior Day start and went 3-for-5 passing and carried the ball four times for 11 yards while leading the Raiders on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
Senior wide receiver Jacob Baskerville caught two of Zulli’s touchdowns and finished with seven catches for 90 yards to top 1,000 yards receiving this season (1,075) – the most for a Raider since Jamie Ware had 1,334 in 1999. Senior running back Mike Frenette moved into third place all-time on the SU career rushing yardage list, running for 67 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries to give him 2,283 career yards.
Shippensburg totaled nine tackles for loss and forced five turnovers – the fourth game in a row it’s forced at least four, bringing its total over that span to 19. Senior defensive tackle Rodney Baltimore had a career effort with four tackles for loss (including a sack) as well as two additional tackles while junior defensive end Jake Metz led the team with nine tackles (one for loss) and also forced a fumble.
The Raiders went up 7-0 on their second possession when Zulli finished off a six-play drive with a 13-yard touchdown to Baskerville. A Cheyney punt on its next possession pinned Shippensburg at its own two-yard-line before Zulli marched SU down the field in 10 plays, ending with a third-and-goal three-yard touchdown pass to senior fullback Kevin Herod.
Baskerville caught his 12th touchdown of the season and second of the day on a wide open post route from 28 yards out on the Raiders’ first drive of the second quarter to push Shippensburg’s lead to 20-6. Zulli threw his final touchdown of the game on SU’s next possession – a 20-yard strike to senior wide receiver Bryan Barley that completed a three-play drive.
The Wolves faced third-and-three from their own 35-yard-line on the next drive when junior defensive end Mike Schmidt forced a fumble from Cheyney quarterback Blaze Wasserleben that Smith picked up and returned 29 yards for the touchdown while escorted by an entourage of teammates for a 34-6 lead.
Frenette scored his touchdown from five yards out on Shippensburg’s second possession of the second half before redshirt-freshman quarterback Chris Lawshe led Shippensburg on a nine-play, 80-yard drive midway through the third quarter.
Lawshe carried the ball four times for 47 yards on the drive before throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to senior fullback Pat Schuhl for a 47-9 lead. The touchdown was Schuhl’s first in two seasons and only the second of his career (first receiving).
Chase Fleming ended Cheyney’s next possession on third-and-seven from the Wolves’ 19-yard-line when he returned a fumble nine yards for the touchdown. Tomasetti led Shippensburg on three drives in the fourth quarter – as well as the opening drive of the game – and freshman running back Justin Pyle finished out the scoring with his first career touchdown on a two-yard rush.