IUP handles Shippensburg 41-10 in PSAC title game
By STEVE PATTERSON
For Public Opinion
INDIANA – With De’Antwan Williams and Montay Green grinding out yards, and Indiana controlling the ball for more than 36 minutes, there were few chances for Zach Zulli and Shippensburg’s potent offense.
Then when Zulli got on the field in the 2012 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Football Championship game, he was often under pressure or getting picked or both.
IUP’s top-ranked defense had two interceptions and Williams and Green combined for 228 yards and a touchdown to help lead the No. 13 Crimson Hawks to a 41-10 victory Saturday afternoon at George P. Miller Stadium.
Mike Box also tossed three touchdown passes to Terrill Barnes as part of an efficient passing game as IUP claimed its first PSAC title since 1987.
“It was a tremendous win – a great effort by the players and the coaches,” second-year Indiana coach Curt Cignetti said. “I thought we were outstanding on defense, made some really big plays on offense, and our special teams were pretty good for the most part. We played well, but we’ve got only 24 hours to enjoy it, because we’ve got to get ready to play next week.”
The seventh-ranked Red Raiders (10-1), meanwhile, continued their futility against Indiana, dropping their 21st consecutive game to the Crimson Hawks. The loss also ended a 14-game win streak for coach Mark Maciejewski at Shippensburg.
Maciejewski said, “We went up against a very good football team today and we didn’t play very well. My hat’s off to them – they did a tremendous job, and we were a little bit out of sorts and didn’t perform up to our abilities. And, we’ve got to get better going forward.”
Both teams are guranteed access to the Super Region I Tournament, but will have to await word from the NCAA on the playoff seedings. The top six teams in each region advance to the postseason with the top two teams getting byes. The announcement will come on Sunday at 5 p.m.
“I’m very proud of these guys – they’re 10-1,” Maciejewski said. “There were 14 other teams that weren’t in this game today, and we’re going to take that away with us, then we’re going to go back to work on Monday morning at 6:45 and get ready for the playoffs. We learned one hell of a lesson today.”
After Indiana (10-1) went ahead on Brett Ullman’s 48-yard field goal, Zulli’s fifth pass attempt was deflected and grabbed by Alexander Berdahl. That set up William’s 59-yard TD run for a 10-0 lead.
When it was over, Zulli had thrown two picks and was 17-of-42 for a season-low 205 yards. The junior quarterback had only five interceptions through the first 10 games this season.
Zulli said, “They have a tough defense and they really game-planned us well this week. I was just overthrowing balls and they were making great plays on defense. That’s what it really came down to.”
The Red Raiders’ lone touchdown came with 2:18 remaining in the first half when Zulli threw a 28-yard scoring strike to Trevor Harman. Late in the first quarter, they drove as far as the IUP 16, but had to settle for a Michael Lloyd 33-yard field goal.
At halftime it was 27-10, a surprising score since Shippensburg came in averaging 52.7 points per game.
Maciejewski said, “We couldn’t afford to make mistakes and we made mistakes out there today. Turnovers always hurt in this game and we had three of them, which resulted in 17 points for the other side. They also were getting pressure with their front four – they’ve got some big men on that team who can run.”
Box hit 11 of 16 passes for 178 yards, including scoring strikes of 48, 15, and 11 yards to Barnes, who finished with seven catches for 124 yards. The Crimson Hawks put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter when linebacker Carl Fleming returned an interception 40 yards for a score.
Fleming, who also had a game-high 12 tackles, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“Our defensive line is very good and if we get pressure on anybody, we can’t be stopped,” Fleming said. “I think that was a major factor today because everything about Ship’s offense is about timing.”
Williams ran 30 times for 129 yards for IUP, which amassed 465 total yards. The Crimson Hawks finished with an advantage in first downs (21-19), rushing yards (287-66), and third-down conversions (6 of 14 to 6 of 17).
Cignetti said, “I think the team that executes the best and plays with the most passion and emotion will come out in front. We got after them up front, we had a lot of guys around the ball when they threw it, and they probably hadn’t played anyone quite like us.”
Indiana 41, Shippensburg 10
Shippensburg 3 7 0 0 – 10
Indiana 17 10 0 14 – 41
I – Brett Ullman 48 field goal, 10:28
I – De’Antwan Williams 59 run (Ullman kick), 6:33
S – Michael Lloyd 33 field goal, 3:32
I – Terrill Barnes 48 pass from Mike Box (Ullman kick), 0:44
I – Ullman 19 field goal, 11:27
S – Trevor Harman 28 pass from Zach Zulli (Lloyd kick), 2:28
I – Barnes 15 pass from Box (Ullman kick), 0:23
I – Barnes 11 pass from Box (Ullman kick), 14:35
I – Carl Fleming 40 interception return (Ullman kick), 5:49
First downs 19 21
Rushes-yds. 29-66 50-287
Passing yds. 205 178
Total offense 271 465
Passing 17-42-2 11-16-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Punts-avg. 6-33.5 4-33.8
Penalties-yds. 7-74 10-106
Possession time 23:17 36:43
RUSHING – Ship, Blair Brooks 3-27, Zulli 12-26, Mike Frenette 7-17, Kevin Herod 2-7, Chris Lawshe 3-5, Team 1-(-2), Nate Schmidt 1-(-14). IUP, Williams 30-129, Montay Green 13-89, Barnes 2-53, Box 2-8, Alex Holland 2-4, Harvie Tuck 1-4.
PASSING – Ship, Zulli 17-42-2-205. IUP, Box 11-16-0-178.
RECEIVING – Ship, Jacob Baskerville 5-63, Harman 3-82, Bryan Barley 3-29, Frenette 3-28, Sheldon Mayer 3-3. IUP, Barnes 7-124, Anthony Meriwether 2-39, Salath Williams 2-15.
INTERCEPTIONS – IUP, Alexander Berdahl, Fleming.