MILLERSVILLE – The Shippensburg University football team dropped a tough 17-14 decision at Millersville on Saturday in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division battle.
Shippensburg (3-5, 2-3 PSAC East) got an offensive spark from freshman quarterback Evan Falco (Mamaroneck, N.Y./Rye Neck), who got an extended look behind center. Falco engineered a pair of touchdown drives that helped the Raiders turn an early 7-0 deficit into a 14-7 second edge, but a late field goal provided the difference in a close Millersville win.
Millersville (3-5, 3-2 PSAC East) freshman quarterback Robert Footman Jr. used his improvisational skills and athleticism to lead the Marauders on the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, converting three different times on third down to set up a successful 29-yard field goal attempt.
Shippensburg attempted to tie the score in the final moments, but sophomore kicker Jaxson Montross’s attempt from 53 yards fell short.
Footman moved to 3-1 on the season as Millersville starter and accounted for 322 total yards of offense. Through the air, he completed 11-of-19 pass attempts for 192 yards and added 130 yards on the ground.
Falco, meanwhile, completed an efficient 14-of-17 pass attempts for 122 yards and a touchdown for Shippensburg.
The Millersville quarterback showed off his speed to give Marauders the early edge, outrunning the Shippensburg defense on a keeper for a 75-yard Millersville touchdown just three minutes in.
Falco entered the game late in the first quarter and used his legs to convert a pair of clutch third downs, but the drive ultimately went scoreless.
Millersville threatened to extend its lead as wideout Mekhi Alexander came back to get a deep ball from Footman for a 55-yard gain that brought the ball down to the Ship 9-yard line early in the second quarter. The SU defense came through, however, as redshirt sophomore linebacker Ray Jones (Wilmington, Del./Saint Elizabeth) recovered a Footman fumble on the very next play to keep it a one-possession game.
Late in the first half, the Raider offense took advantage of a Millersville roughing the passer penalty to keep its drive alive, which led to a Falco 40-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Redd Douglas (Youngstown, Ohio/Wooster) that brought the Raiders into Millersville territory.
A 13-yard pass to senior tailback Khalid Dorsey (York/York (Howard)) put the Raiders on the doorstep, and a pass interference penalty in the end zone set up a Dorsey 2-yard TD run that tied the score at 7-7 with 54.8 seconds remaining in the half.
Falco led the Raiders down the field once again in the opening possession of the second half. A 22-yard scramble gave the visitors a 1st and goal on the Millersville 5, and on third down, the freshman signal-caller found Douglas on a fade route in the back corner of the end zone to put the Raiders in front, 14-7.
The Marauders managed to even the score late in the third on a 4th and goal conversion from tailback Marcus Pierce.
It was all Footman in the fourth quarter, as the Marauder QB came through with multiple big plays, highlighted by a clutch pass to receiver Christian Drayton to convert a 3rd and 12, setting up the game-winning 29-yard field goal from kicker Christian Makanoeich with 5:47 left.
Defensively for the Raiders, redshirt sophomore linebacker Matt Feeney (Reading/Exeter Township) recorded 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. It was his sixth double-digit tackle performance in eight games this season.
Shippensburg had a 17-game win streak over Millersville come to an end with Saturday’s result.
Next up, Shippensburg will host East Stroudsburg University for Senior Day Saturday at Seth Grove Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Seth Grove Stadium.