Huskies lose in playoff opener
SHIPPENSBURG - When Jacob Baskerville was being recruited out of Pottsville High School, he felt the other recruits he met at Shippensburg University had the makings of being a special football team.
Saturday, in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Super Region One Tournament at Seth Grove Stadium, the senior wide receiver and the rest of the Red Raiders showed visiting Bloomsburg University - for the second time this season - just how special they are.
Rallying from a four-point deficit late in the half, the Raiders scored 48 unanswered points en route to a 58-20 victory that advances them to Region One semifinal against top-ranked Winston-Salem State. This was the second time the Raiders' (11-1) offense had shredded Bloomsburg (10-2), defeating the Huskies 49-42 in Week 9 to earn the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division title.
"I really didn't know what to say to our guys after this," Bloomsburg coach Danny Hale said. "Once Mo (momentum) shifted, they just had too many weapons for us.
"It wasn't a matter of our guys quitting, but rather a lot of good things happening on Shippensburg's side. We needed to run clock; we needed to make big plays; we needed to stop the big play; we failed on all three."
Baskerville came into the game as the leading receiver for Shippensburg, which had little problem rebounding from the previous week's 41-10 loss at IUP in the PSAC title game. He led the high-powered passing offense - which accounted for 507 yards - with seven receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns, as quarterback Zach Zulli completed 26-of-35 passes for 479 yards and three touchdowns.
Baskerville capped a 24-point third quarter with a 44-yard touchdown reception, making the score 37-14. For the season, he has 76 receptions for 1,291 yards and 14 touchdowns.
"We wanted to spread them out and then look for the big plays," Baskerville said. "I just ran the plays that were called, and they worked."
Shippensburg often had multiple receivers that were uncovered, which allowed Zulli to complete 15 passes that gained more than 10 yards. Eight players caught at least one pass for the Raiders, with Kevin Herod making seven receptions for 64 yards, Trevor Harman making six for 117 yards and Bryan Barley making three for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
Baskerville gave the Raiders their first lead when he caught a 21-yard pass from Zulli to make it 10-7 late in the half. Bloomsburg had scored on the game's opening drive, getting a 3-yard touchdown run from junior Franklyn Quiteh, who finished with 24 carries for 199 yards.
Quiteh, who will enter his senior season needing 362 yards to break the PSAC and Bloomsburg career rushing record of 5,689 yards held by Jamar Brittingham, added his second 3-yard touchdown run with 1:48 left in the half, giving the Huskies a 14-10 lead.
Then the Raiders took over, getting a break when Bloomsburg called a timeout to force a punt - which the Huskies muffed. That allowed Drew Newcomer to kick a 31-yard field goal as time expired in the half, bringing the Raiders to within 14-13.
After Shippensburg took the lead for good at 20-14 on a 48-yard pass from Zulli to Barley to open the second half, a holding penalty led to a three-and-out by the Huskies. Then the Raiders increased the lead to 23-14 on a 22-yard field goal by Newcomer.
Bloomsburg needed to respond, and runs of 41 and 21 yards by Quiteh moved the ball to the 18. It appeared he was about to break free on the second run, but was caught from behind, and moments later the Huskies lost the ball when Quiteh fumbled.
Shippensburg then used a seven-play, 85-yard drive to take a 30-14 lead when Zulli scored from the 1 two plays after his 42-yard completion to Harman moved the ball to the 3. An interception and 36-yard return by Tyriq Kershaw stopped the next Bloomsburg drive, and one first down Baskerville scored on the 44-yard pass from Zulli.
"We wanted to be able to get off the field, stop their big plays and be tough near the goal line," said senior linebacker Jarrett Pidgeon, who had seven tackles and two pass break-ups. "Early, we were able to do that, but you can only stay with a team like that for so long because they're just that good."