Huskies hound Shippensburg in win

Mifflin County holds off late comeback try

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Mifflin County’s Gage Schaeffer, left, runs for yardage with Shippensburg defender Derek Kunkleman in pursuit.

LEWISTOWN — On Friday night, coach Scot Sechler and his Mifflin County Huskies had had enough of just being close.

They wanted — maybe needed — a win in a season that has seen possible victory slip through the Huskies’ fingers more than once.

This one didn’t get away.

Mifflin County built a big third-quarter lead, held off a hard charge down the stretch by the Greyhounds and earned a 26-21 Mid-Penn Colonial football triumph over previously-unbeaten Shippensburg, the first win of the year for the Huskies.

“It feels good,” a smiling Sechler said after having just emerged from the bottom of a celebratory pile of Huskies players. “I told the kids earlier this week ‘Look, I’m tired of moral victories. We’ve had a lot of moral victories and I’m tired of it. It’s time to win one.’ So, they went out and they earned one tonight.”

The key sequence in the game came late in the third quarter when Shippensburg pulled to within four. Mifflin County needed a scoring drive and turned to its two offensive leaders.

Workhorse tailback Gage Scheaffer carried twice and quarterback Noah Wright kept the ball three times, including a three-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter during which he weaved through some traffic to find the end zone. That — plus Jacob Krepps muscling in for the two-point conversion — built the Huskies’ lead back to 12 points.

Shippensburg made it close again in the fourth quarter, though, as speedy Greyhounds tailback Alex Sharrow got loose for the second time, dashing 64 yards to a touchdown.

Shippensburg appeared poised for an opportunity at a game-winning drive, but with Mifflin County punting out of its own end zone (and after a the snap wasn’t cleanly handled, either), the Greyhounds were flagged for roughing the kicker, giving Mifflin County a free first down.

The Huskies didn’t give Shippensburg a second chance.

Later faced with a fourth-and-a blade of grass with a bit less than two minutes to play, Wright plowed forward for three yards to gain the first down and send the Mifflin County sideline into celebration mode.

“I think that’s one thing we’ve shown all year. We’ve shown a lot of heart and a lot of determination and a lot of will,” Sechler said. “We don’t quit. I told these guys at halftime, I said ‘Listen, these guys (Shippensburg) are not gonna quit either. They’re gonna make you earn it.'”

The first half unfolded about as well as it could have for Mifflin County. The Huskies had established a potent rushing attack that Shippensburg seemed ill-equipped to stop and did so on its opening possession.

A 12-play drive saw five different Huskies combine to carry the ball 10 times, topped off by a three-yard plunge up the middle by Trey Kibe that gave the Huskies a 6-0 first-quarter lead after the extra point attempt sailed wide left.

In the second period, it was more of the same as Mifflin County again showed its dominance in the trenches. The quarterback keeper proved to be an effective weapon as Wright carried the ball on the first and last plays of an eight-play drive that saw the Huskies overcome a third-and-18 after a personal foul. Wright scampered 31 yards to pay dirt on the scoring play, one snap after he had found Zachary Bickart for 29 yards on a pass that was perfectly placed just above the fingertips of a Shippensburg defender. The score stayed 12-0 at halftime after the extra point attempt was blocked.

“Our ‘hoggies’ (offensive linemen) did a good job moving their opponents down the field,” Sechler said. “When we’re able to do those things and our backs are able to have some holes to slice through, good things happen.”

The decision to defer the choice until the third quarter proved to be a savvy one as the Huskies took the second half’s first possession 61 yards over eight plays, punctuated by a 20-yard touchdown run by Scheaffer, part of his 136-yard rushing performance. Mifflin County tried for two, but the pass fell incomplete, leaving the lead at 18-0 midway through the third.

Shippensburg needed a big play to go in its favor and did just that on its first touch of the second half. Facing fourth-and-four from the Mifflin County 38, Alex Sharrow turned the left side and not only picked up the first down, but also took it in for the touchdown. A run for two by Adam Houser from the wildcat formation pulled the Greyhounds to within 10 at 18-8.

After Mifflin County failed on a fourth down, it only took Shippensburg one play to pull closer. A blown coverage left speedy receiver Isaiah Houser all by himself behind the Huskies defense as he hauled in a pass from quarterback Zack Manning before the Greyhound blazed 70 yards to the end zone. Shippensburg went for another two-point try from the wildcat, but this time was stopped short, leaving the score at 18-14 through three quarters.

But the night belonged to the Huskies.

Mifflin County (1-4) travels to Big Spring on Sept. 28.

Mifflin County 26, Shippensburg 21

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Shippensburg 0 0 14 7–21

Mifflin County 6 6 6 8–26

First Quarter

MC–Kibe 3 run (kick failed), 3:41.

Second Quarter

MC–Wright 31 run (kick blocked), 4:54.

Third Quarter

MC–Scheaffer 20 run (pass failed), 8:29.

S–Sharrow 38 run (A. Houser run), 6:42.

S–I. Houser 70 pass from Manning (run failed), 1:37.

Fourth Quarter

MC–Wright 3 run (Krepps run), 11:18.

S–Sharrow 64 run (West kick), 10:03.

TEAM STATISTICS

S MC

First downs 10 18

Total yards 301 349

Rushes-yards 32-179 52-277

Yards passing 122 72

Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 6-13-1 6-11-0

Punts-avg. 2-30 3-34.3

Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0

Penalties-yards 6-45 8-53

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: S–A. Houser 17-35, Sharrow 7-136, Weltz 6-12, TEAM 2-(-4); MC–Scheaffer 20-136, Wright 10-52, Poche 10-49, Kibe 6-29, Henry 2-6, Krepps 1-5, Capouillez 1-2, TEAM 2-(-2).

PASSING: S–Manning 6-13-1-122; MC–Wright 6-11-0-72.

RECEIVING: S–Gustafson 2-13, A. Houser 2-11, I. Houser 1-70, Young 1-28; MC–Jackson 3-31, Bickhart 1-29, Scheaffer 1-7, Collins 1-5.

COMMENTS