SU beats Seton Hill 51-13 on Senior Day, earns playoff berth to NCAA playoffs
By: Shawn Rapp
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – The No. 25-ranked Shippensburg Raiders football team celebrated Senior Day and concluded its regular-season Saturday, with one of its highest scoring games of the year, beating PSAC foe Seton Hill 51-13.
After a slow offensive start, the Red Raiders offense got going and wouldn’t look back. Quarterback Ryan Zapoticky connected with receiver Charles Headen for a 14-yard score to take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Zapoticky found fullback Luke Durkin for an 18-yard touchdown to give the Raiders a 13-0 lead.
With 17 seconds remaining in the first half, Zapoticky scrambled up the middle for a six-yard touchdown run, giving the Raiders a 20–0 lead into halftime.
Zapoticky’s success running the ball wouldn’t stop there, as he would finish off the first drive of the second half with an 18-yard run on a read option for the 27–0 lead.
After a punt by the Griffons, Zapoticky hit tight end Kyle Haines in the left corner of the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown pass. The Raiders led 34–0 after kicker Billy Deane added the extra point.
On the next Seton Hill possession, cornerback Chavez Cheatham intercepted Griffon quarterback Christian Strong and took it 36 yards to the Seton Hill 20-yard line.
After the turnover, Dean nailed a 24-yard field goal to extend the lead to 37–0.
With the Raiders leading 37–0, backup quarterback Chase Yocum was brought in for Zapoticky. After a bobbled snap, Yocum closed the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run giving the Raiders a 44-0 lead.
Seton Hill would finally get on the board with 8:52 left in the fourth quarter from a two-yard touchdown run by back Jarvis McClam, capping off a nine play, 83-yard drive for the Griffons.
The Raiders would answer immediately, with senior fullback, Mike Cassidy scoring his first collegiate touchdown on a two-yard run late in the fourth quarter making it 51–14.
A two-yard touchdown run by Griffon back, Evan Byrd in the closing seconds made the final score 51-13 Raiders.
Zapoticky finished the game with 256 yards and three touchdowns through the air, while also accounting for two more touchdowns on the ground.
SU running backs Colin McDermott and Cole Chiappialle combined for 231 yards on 28 carries. McDermott had 14 carries for 122 yards, while Chiappialle ran for 109 yards on 14 carries.
The Raiders offense scored on eight of its 10 drives while putting up 582 yards from scrimmage, the third time the Raiders have done so this season (326 rushing, 256 passing).
In a senior class that includes Christian Brown, Cassidy, Cheatham, Deane, Andrew Englebert, Oscar Ghasab, McDermott, Austin Rosenberry, Kevin Taylor II, Darius Wills and Zapoticky, the Red Raiders have gone 38-17 since their recruitment in the start of the 2013 season.
The win, which moved the Raiders to 10-1, put the Raiders in prime position to secure a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
On Sunday, the Raiders were selected as the No. 4 seed in Super Region 1 for the 2017 NCAA Division II Football Championships, the sixth postseason appearance in school history.
Shippensburg (10-1) will host West Chester University (8-3) in the first-round game from Seth Grove Stadium Saturday. Game time is set for noon.
The game will be a rematch of the Week 6 game that saw West Chester win 37-27.