WEST CHESTER – Undefeated West Chester will play host to PSAC foe Shippensburg in massive clash on STN’s College Game of the Week.
With a blowout victory over Millersville on Saturday, West Chester improved to 4-0 on the season and are rolling into this week’s home matchup with the Raiders. Shippensburg, however, is headed in the other direction after back-to-back losses dropped them to .500 on the season. This past weekend’s defeat came in a 28-24 loss to Bloomsburg.
The Rams raced out to a 28-0 1st quarter lead over the Marauders, pairing two A.J. Long touchdown passes with a pick-six and a Mark Dukes 35-yard score. Millersville outscored West Chester 16-14 the rest of the way, but the damage was already done. Despite completing just 44 percent of this throws, Long tossed three touchdowns and added 54 yards on the ground. Dukes added 120 yards and a score, while Rasheem James chipped in with 40 receiving yards and two scores. The Rams pass rush racked up an insane ten sacks and the team intercepted two passes on the day.
Shippensburg scored two late touchdowns against Bloomsburg, but the rally wasn’t enough to erase a 28-12 lead with 8:06 to play. Brycen Mussina, son of former MLB pitcher Mike, racked up 312 yards and four passing touchdowns in the losing effort. The ground attack was nearly non-existent for the Raiders, as they gained just 39 yards on 20 rushing attempts. Nine different Raiders caught passes, led by Charles Headen’s 55 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Lister paced the defensive effort with eight tackles and a tackle for loss.
The five-time PSAC Eastern champions under Bill Zwaan are hoping for a sixth after their start this season. The four-time Coach of the Year has the offense clicking to the tune of 44 points per game while allowing just over ten. Individually, Long has thrown for 894 yards and 11 scores, while adding another 273 on the ground with five more touchdowns. Dukes has averaged over five yards per tote and has found the end zone three times. The Rams have four wide receivers with at least 100 yards, led by James’ 321 to go with six touchdown receptions.
Defensively, Nate Barnes has racked up 33 tackles along with 4.5 sacks this season. He is one of five Rams with at least 3.5 sacks. Diquan Gilbert has been a terror in the backfield, amassing nine tackles for loss through four games. The Rams are averaging 2.5 turnovers per game, intercepting eight passes and recovering two fumbles. Jaishan Thornton has three of those, picking off two passes and recovering a fumble.
The Raiders, under eighth year head coach Mark Maciejewski, are averaging just 24.5 points per game and allowing 29.8. Mussina has been solid, averaging over 290 yards per game through the air along with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The ground game averages just over 100 yards per contest, led by Marcus Lominy’s 40 per game. Despite combing for over 300 rushing yards, Lominy and Ralieigh Sirb have yet to find the end zone. Five receivers have at least 12 catches for the Raiders, led by Josh Gontarek’s 21 receptions for 293 yards. Charles Headen has found the end zone on four of his 12 receptions.
Steven Cain paces the Raiders defense with 31 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Dakota Thompson and Josh Lister have led the efforts in the backfield, combining for 12.5 TFL’s and 6.5 sacks. John Chaney III, grandson of Temple coaching legend John Chaney Sr., has a pair of picks this season and Richard Nase has a fumble recovery for a touchdown this year.
West Chester has had Shippensburg’s number as of late, winning three straight matchups, including two last season. Finishing 9-4 a year ago, West Chester knocked off the Raiders 37-27 in the regular season before dominating the postseason matchup with a 27-6 win. West Chester took a 27-0 lead at the 10:57 mark in the 4th quarter before allowing a Raiders touchdown with 8:16 to play.
The Raiders will hope to end a two-game skid after a 2-0 start, while the Rams will be looking to stay unbeaten and improve to 5-0 on Saturday afternoon.
TIME: 12 p.m. Saturday, September 29th
WATCH LIVE: WHP 21.2 My Network, WFMZ 69, BLUE RIDGE CABLE NETWORK
ANNOUNCERS: Phil Schoener (play-by-play), Emory Hunt (analyst), Colin Riccobon (sidelines)