The LIU Post football team lost its third consecutive game on Saturday, October 6, against the sixteenth-ranked Shippensburg University Red Raiders by a final score of 36-20. With the defeat the Pioneers fell below the .500 mark, and now have a 2-3 record for the season.
The Pioneers had a tall task in front of them on both sides of the ball on Saturday as the Red Raiders have the number one total offense in the nation, as well as the ninth-ranked total defense. Just to give you an idea of how good the Red Raiders offense really is, coming into the game against LIU Post, the Red Raiders averaged over 560 yards per game, 53.2 points per game, and defeated opponents by 34 points per game.
The Pioneers were neck and neck with the explosive Red Raiders for the first half of play, as LIU Post was only down 17-14 after 30 minutes. However, the Red Raiders showed why they are considered one of the most complete teams in the country as the Pioneers were shut out in the third quarter. The Red Raiders allowed a meaningless touchdown late in the fourth quarter, as time was about to expire. During the second half, the Red Raiders managed to put 19 points on the board to put the game away and improve to a perfect 6-0 record.
The Pioneers were able to keep the game close through the first half because of defense and special teams. The Pioneers scored their first touchdown when junior outside linebacker Tommy Williams re¬covered a 16-yard fumble for a touchdown which put LIU Post ahead early 7-3.
Late in the second quarter, the Pioneers flexed their muscles on special teams as the unit blocked a punt, which put the offense in excellent field position. From Shippensburg’s two-yard line, the Pioneers needed one play to retake the lead 14-10. Junior quarterback Steven Laurino connected with fresh¬man tight end Sean Binckes for an easy score.
Unfortunately, that touchdown was one of the last positives for the Pioneers. Red Raiders junior quarterback Zach Zulli continued his excellent start to the season as he was 21-31, passing for 276 yards and two touchdowns, without throwing an interception. In addition, Zulli added a touchdown on the ground, displaying why he is so hard to defend as a dynamic quarterback who can run and pass.
On the other hand, the Pioneers offense has been struggling to move the ball during the recent losing streak. After scoring 46 points week one against Clarion University, the Pioneers have decreased their scoring output in each of the last four games.
There was not much intrigue to the Pioneers offense as Laurino was 30-49, throwing for 176 yards and one touchdown. The Pioneers did not open up the offense and rarely threw the ball down the field like had been done in wins earlier this season. In addition, the running game yet again struggled. Although up against a stout Red Raiders defense, the Pioneers leading rusher was once again Laurino as he had 14 attempts for 53 yards and one touchdown. Junior running backs Jeff Mack and Anthony Brunetti combined for only 31 yards on 13 carries during the game.
Heading into the game, the Pioneers had won the last three meetings against the Red Raiders. However, the Red Raiders were on another level last week, and played with some extra energy as it was Shippensburg’s Homecoming game.
The Pioneers will look to snap their losing streak on Saturday, October 13, on the road against the West Chester University of Pennsylvania Golden Rams (4-2). Tune into 88.1 FM or WCWP.org to hear all the game coverage. Pregame is at 12:30 p.m. and kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.