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SU Football edged by Newberry in season opener, 14-10

The Shippensburg University football team found itself within striking distance until the final play but could not pull off the upset Saturday against No. 24 Newberry College in its season opener at Student Association Field at Seth Grove Stadium, 14-10.

The Raiders (0-1) went toe-to-toe with the Wolves (1-0) thanks to some timely contributions by their special teams unit and their defense, including a 51-yard interception return for a touchdown from redshirt-junior Chisom Ifeanyi (Langhorne, Pa./Neshaminy) and a blocked punt that resulted in a fourth quarter field goal from junior Jaxson Montross (Tunkhannock, Pa./Tunkhannock Area). In a one-possession game late, the SU offense had two separate opportunities inside the final five minutes to drive down the field for what would have been the go-ahead score, but could not convert.

The SU defense played well, holding the two-time defending South Atlantic Conference champs to just 2-for-11 on third down conversions.

Redshirt-sophomore Terrance Peterson Jr. (Hopewell, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) contributed a game-high 11 tackles, including six solo, a sack, as well as a blocked punt. He finished just two tackles short of his career high (13) set last season against Kutztown.

Redshirt-freshman Ibrahim Diawara contributed 3.5 tackles for loss.

Offensively, Shippensburg mustered just 141 total yards against a battle-tested Wolves defensive unit that featured ten returning starters.

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Joey McCracken (Lititz, Pa./Warwick (Maine)) was hurried and flushed outside the pocket many times by a stout Newberry defensive line. He completed 10-of-24 passes for 69 yards and added 18 yards on the ground.

Junior Jake DeLuccia (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Valley) led the Raider rushing attack with seven carries and 38 yards.

Five different Newberry players combined for 155 yards rushing Saturday. Dwayne Wright led the way with 56, while quarterback Pete Elmore converted 13-of-17 attempts through the air for 115 yards.

Elmore scrambled for a five-yard touchdown to open the scoring late in the first quarter.

Ifeanyi later tipped and hauled in an Elmore pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it to the house early in the second.

The score remained tied at intermission after a strong defensive stand late in the half, but Newberry runner John Swinton broke through for a 30-yard touchdown scamper midway through the third that put the visitors back in front, 14-7.

Peterson’s block was recovered by redshirt-sophomore Sam Emge (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) early in the fourth quarter, putting the Raiders on the doorstep, but they were forced to settle for Montross’s successful 33-yard attempt.

Ship’s first attempt at the go-ahead score resulted in a Newberry interception on fourth down. The Raiders’ last chance came with just a minute left on the clock. They reached midfield before an unsuccessful last-ditch shot at the endzone.

The Raiders return to action next Saturday when they visit the Seton Hill Griffins for a noon kickoff.

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