Huskies defeat Cheyney
BLOOMSBURG - For the first eight weeks of the season Bloomsburg University senior center and tri-captain Chris Steck of Mount Carmel Area said everyone on the football team assured anyone who asked that the players were taking a one-game-at-a-time approach to the season.
Now, after a 35-7 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East victory Saturday over Cheyney at Redman Stadium, the No. 6 nationally ranked Huskies (8-0, 5-0 PSAC) can now talk about the game they have been waiting to play for more than 11 months. That game takes place Thursday at 8 p.m. in a nationally televised Halloween treat on CBS Sports Network against visiting defending division champion Shippensburg.
Last year the Red Raiders were the only team to defeat Bloomsburg, which finished 10-2 after a 58-20 thumping last November in the first round of NCAA Division II play at Shippensburg. While the Wolves (0-8, 0-5) provided little more than a tune-up Saturday for the Huskies, who played reserves nearly the entire second half, Shippensburg comes in off its first conference loss.
Playing at home, the Raiders were stunned by a 32-29 loss to West Chester (8-0, 5-0). Shippensburg (5-3, 4-1) got out to a 14-0 lead, but the Golden Rams rallied in the second half and kicked the winning field goal with 1.1 seconds left.
"Well, now it's here, so let's get it on," Steck said after setting a Bloomsburg record by playing in his 44th consecutive game. "This is redemption week and we want to pay them back for beating us twice.
"We weren't saying much about this game, but you know that Shippensburg is No. 1 on the list for this year. Now, it's time to get it done."
As for his consecutive starts, Steck had no idea it was a school record. He was aware, however, that he has started every game since becoming a freshman starter for the first game of the 2010 season.
"Wow, I had no idea about it being any kind of a record, but I knew it was a lot of games," Steck said. "I mean, I'm not going to make a big deal about it because No. 45 is coming up next.
"I guess what surprises me is that I had never even snapped a ball until high school in the preseason. Jon Else, who had played center on state championship teams at Mount Carmel, came back to help coach for a couple of years with Mike Brennan, and he's the one who helped me and made me a center."
After last year's 27-13 victory at Cheyney, in which the Huskies pulled away with a 13-0 advantage in the fourth quarter, Bloomsburg coach Paul Darragh said the team was focused on the Wolves. He said the goal was to play error-free offense and play pressure defense.
Those goals were accomplished when the Huskies scored touchdowns on their first five possessions in taking a 35-0 halftime lead. Franklyn Quiteh carried the ball 16 times for 114 yards and three touchdowns and caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Tim Kelly, who finished 10-for-13 passing for 148 yards and ran for a touchdown.
"I felt good about the game because of the way we prepared and how we practiced," Darragh said. "We weren't about to overlook Cheyney after last year, but this year we played better and made them make the mistakes."
Quiteh is now No. 5 on the all-time Division II rushing list with 6,848 yards, moving past Josh Ranek of South Dakota State, who rushed for 6,794 yards from 1997-01. In addition, the senior from Pocono Mountain West is within striking distance of three PSAC records set by Jamar Brittingham of Bloomsburg between 2004-07.
Brittingham rushed for 83 touchdowns, three more than Quiteh; scored 84 total touchdowns, one more than Quiteh; and scored 516 points, 10 more than Quiteh. And, all of those touchdowns came and all of those points were scored by Quiteh behind an offensive line anchored in the middle by Steck.
"You've really got to give Chris a lot of credit for what he's accomplished," Darragh said. "Franklyn has now rushed for 100 yards in 39 games and one of the things that came up in our chapel meeting is that he's run behind Chris Steck in everyone of those games."
Bloomsburg had a 447-263 advantage in total offense, and linebacker Ezra Ranco figured in two of the three defensive takeaways. He had a forced fumble set up a touchdown drive of 26 yards for a 21-0 lead and added an interception.