WEST CHESTER — The Shippensburg University football team scored 20 unanswered points in the second half on Saturday to pick up an exciting comeback win over the West Chester Golden Rams, 20-13, in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division matchup.
Shippensburg (3-3, 2-1 PSAC East) got the game-winning score, a 10-yard touchdown catch from redshirt sophomore tight end Cole Balint (Landenburg/Caravel Academy (Del.)), with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter. The win was the Raiders’ first at West Chester since 2012 and spoiled the Golden Rams’ Homecoming Game.
West Chester (3-3, 1-2 PSAC East) staked itself to a 13-0 first-half lead and put up 436 yards of total offense, but was held scoreless by the Shippensburg defense after halftime.
Shippensburg, which has gotten key scoring contributions from its special teams unit all season, did so once again Saturday to help spark its second-half comeback.
Redshirt freshman Terrance Peterson Jr. (Hopewell, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) blocked a West Chester punt that came deep in Golden Rams territory, which was recovered in the end zone by redshirt sophomore Ray Jones (Wilmington, Del./Saint Elizabeth) for a Raider touchdown. The extra point clanged off the left upright, but the score made it just a one-possession game with 7:29 remaining in the third quarter.
A Brandon Holt (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield (Pace)) interception and long runback was later wiped away due to penalty, which could have halted the Raiders’ momentum. But the offense picked up the slack.
Early in the fourth quarter, redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Johnson III (Detroit, Mich./Walled Lake Western ((Boston College)) hit sophomore wideout Redd Douglas (Youngstown, Ohio/Chaney (Wooster)) in stride for a 49-yard Shippensburg touchdown. The extra point, courtesy of sophomore kicker Jaxson Montross (Tunkhannock/Tunkhannock Area), knotted the score at 13-13.
On the ensuing drive, pressure from the Shippensburg defense forced the Golden Rams’ true freshman quarterback, Ethan Kohler, into a fourth-down incompletion and a turnover on downs.
The Raiders took over near midfield, and the offense immediately went to work. Johnson came through with another big play, connecting with sophomore wide receiver Ian Sheehan (Feasterville/Neshaminy) for a leaping catch along the left sideline. The 44-yard pass play put the Raiders in the red zone, and three plays later Johnson fired a strike over the middle to Balint for what would ultimately be the game-winning touchdown.
West Chester made its way down to the Shippensburg 26-yard line with a chance to tie the score in the final seconds.
On 4th and 2, Kohler went for it all, tossing the ball deep to wide receiver Raheim Bowens in the corner of the end zone, but redshirt sophomore corner Khi’on Smith had it covered, denying Bowens and sealing SU’s comeback win.
Johnson stepped up for the Raiders in the second half. Overall, he finished 14-of-25 in pass attempts for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Sheehan caught three passes for 76 yards.
Senior running back Khalid Dorsey (York/York (Howard)) tallied 70 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Kohler had a big day passing for West Chester, tallying 330 yards on 18 completions. Bowens caught five of those passes for 100 yards, while McKenzie added 81 yards on the ground.
Defensively, Shippensburg was paced by performances from redshirt junior linebacker Tyler Simon (Manheim/Manheim Central) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Matt Feeney (Reading/Exeter Township). Both Simon (career-high 14 tackles, interception) and Feeney (11 tackles) reached double digits in tackles. Feeney also recorded 2.5 tackles for loss.
The Raiders return to Seth Grove Stadium Saturday for their Homecoming Game against the Kutztown Golden Bears. Kick-off is slated for 1 p.m.