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SHIPPENSBURG >> It's very possible that the Shippensburg football team played its best game of the season on Friday night.

And it picked the perfect time to do it.

In a matchup against Mid Penn Colonial Division rival Big Spring for the Little Brown Jug, the Greyhounds controlled the game from the opening kickoff and rolled to a 41-13 win over the Bulldogs.

"We were so fired up in the locker room for this game," Ship senior Cole Friese said. "I think this was by far one of the best games we've played. We weren't going to lose this one."

Shippensburg (5-3, 2-2 MPC) wasted no time grabbing momentum. On the opening kickoff, Adam Houser took the return 90 yards for a touchdown to put Big Spring (4-4, 1-3 MPC) in a 7-0 hole.

Then after a Bulldog punt, Ship capitalized on two Big Spring personal foul penalties, and Tyler Gustafson hit Wade Mills for a 10-yard touchdown to make it 13-0 halfway through the first quarter.

"We did some things tonight and had a lot of success," Ship coach Eric Foust said. "I think we're really starting to hit our stride, and we came into the game really focused."

The Bulldogs, who were without top running back Tristan Robb, couldn't get much of anything going on offense. They totaled just 202 yards with all but 20 coming on the ground.

"We're not a team that plays well from behind," Big Spring coach Cory Hoffman said. "We have to start slinging the ball around, and that's just not us. The kids played hard and gave it all they got."

Big Spring controlled the ball for much of the second quarter. Sandwiched around a Nathaniel Sheffield touchdown run by Ship, the Bulldogs hit a pair of field goals, with the second one coming with 12 seconds left in the half.

But with time for one more play, the Hounds came through with the dagger. Gustafson hit Mills on a screen pass to the left side, and Mills broke one tackle and went untouched the rest of the way for a 70-yard score at the halftime buzzer. He finished with 94 yards on three catches with two touchdowns.

"We've been working on that play for a while now, and it worked for us tonight," Mills said. "It was just a play to see what would happen, and we broke off a big one."

The rest of the game belonged to Friese and the defense.

Friese led the team in yards from scrimmage, finishing with 79 yards on the ground and another 74 receiving. Defensively, Shippensburg forced three three-and-outs in the second half and didn't allow the Bulldogs to score until their final drive of the game.

Friese said, "Every time I got the ball, I just wanted to run as hard as possible."

Sheffield said, "I think we just got really hyped for this game, and this was the first game we really played as brothers."

The Greyhounds, who had the final spot in the District 3 Class AAA rankings at 16 coming into the game, will focus on securing a spot in the playoffs. That starts with avoiding a letdown against James Buchanan, like they did last year.

Foust, "I think last year may actually help us for this game, but we have to come ready to play. We have to keep improving to win these last two."

NOTES >> Adam Houser had a 21-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Friese capped off the scoring with a 34-yard dash in the fourth ... Big Spring (2) and Shippensburg (1) were called for a combined three personal foul calls early in the game.

Shippensburg 41, Big Spring 13

Big Spring0607—13Shippensburg131477—41

First Quarter

Sh — Adam Houser 90 kickoff return (Jackson VanHorne kick), 11:46

Sh — Wade Mills 10 pass from Tyler Gustafson (run failed), 6:02

Second Quarter

BS — Noah Keiter 22 field goal, 11:56

Sh — Nathaniel Sheffield 1 run (Cameron Locke kick), 3:36

BS — Keiter 39 field goal, 0:12

S — Mills 70 pass from Gustafson (VanHorne kick), 0:00

Third Quarter

Sh — Houser 21 run (VanHorne kick), 5:37

Fourth Quarter

Sh — Cole Friese 34 run (VanHorne), 9:23

BS — Charles Bowers 42 run (Keiter kick), 1:08

BSShipFirst downs916Rushes-yards35-18234-163Passing3-12-010-16-0Passing yards20196Total yards202359Punts6-32.72-28.5Fumbles-lost1-11-1Penalties-yards6-614-51
Individual statistics

Rushing — BS, Ryan Adams 18-100, Charles Bowers 1-32, Jaret Petty 10-30, Ethan Lee 3-15, Triston Cooper 3-5. Ship, Friese 11-79, Zion Ware 10-52, Houser 5-31, Cameron Tinner 1-4, Sheffield 1-1, Dylan Jumper 1-(-1), Noah Chavez 1-(-1), Gustafson 4-(-4)

Passing — BS, Jaret Petty 3-12-20-0. Ship, Gustafson 9-15-187-0, Carter Van Scyoc 1-1-9-0.

Receiving — BS, Matt Coyle 2-22, Adams 1-(-2). Ship, Mills 3-94, Friese 3-74, Cody Gustafson 1-15, Jumper 1-9, Houser 2-4.

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