Shippensburg out-matched by Solanco
QUARRYVILLE -- A lot of factors were working against Shippensburg on Friday night.
The Greyhounds were missing their top two running backs in Zion Ware and Cole Friese. Relying on their strong passing game proved problematic, though, as quarterback Tyler Gustafson was working against 20-plus mile-per-hour winds.
But the biggest thing going against the Hounds was Solanco. Simply put, the Golden Mules were just the better football team, and it showed in a 43-0 thrashing in the first round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.
"Obviously, it was pretty tough to get our offense going," Ship's Nathaniel Sheffield said. "The wind was a really big factor, and I don't know that having Zion and Cole would've changed it. They would've made a difference, but they were just a really good team. We couldn't get much going on them at all."
Shippensburg (7-4) managed only 77 yards of total offense, while the Mules (10-1) piled up 445 yards despite not completing a single pass. Solanco, which won its first ever playoff game, will face Lampeter-Strasburg in the quarterfinals.
"It was a great win for everybody involved," Solanco coach Anthony Cox said. "It's a tribute to this team and how hard they've worked in the offseason and in the weight room. Success comes to guys that work hard, and we came out and played hard. It was a great win for this community."
The onslaught started early, as Solanco's Darren Whearry ripped off a 14-yard rush on the first play from scrimmage. Just three minutes into the game, the Mules had put points on the board when quarterback Noah McCardell pitched it out to Prosper Eguzouwa, who scored a 28-yard touchdown.
Although the Hounds managed to shut out Solanco for the remainder of the quarter, the Golden Mules got into the end zone on all three of their second-quarter possessions.
"They are a good football team," Ship coach Eric Foust said. "Their offensive line and defensive line were better than ours. The option speed, we just couldn't prepare for or adjust to it. We really struggled with it. We knew it was coming, but we couldn't prepare for it, so that was the most frustrating part."
Solanco put five different players into the end zone for rushing touchdowns. Robbie Hassel, who finished with 182 yards, scored once; Darren Whearry racked up 108 yards and scored a TD; and Eguzouwa finished with 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just eight carries.
"When I think about what the other defense must be thinking, I can't even imagine," Hassel said. "We have so many people they have to focus on. Also, our line knows everything that they're supposed to be doing. As soon as Shippensburg shifted into another front, they knew what to do."
Sheffield said, "They were really quick off the ball. They had size, and their backs ran really hard. They were pretty tough to defend. I thought coming into this game, we had a chance to defend them, but their size and the way they got off the football just out-matched us."
Shippensburg, which spread its offense more this year than it has in recent memory, struggled in the passing game. Tyler Gustafson finished 9-for-18 and threw for 64 yards. But it wasn't like he had an easy go of it.
"I mean, if you threw it one way, it was going out of the end zone, and if you were throwing in the other direction, it wasn't going anywhere," Gustafson said. "We were still semi-effective in the first half. Once the second half hit, the wind picked up a little bit and they adjusted. They are a good team, and we just didn't come out and play like we wanted to."
Although the Hounds suffered a defeat, Foust didn't chalk the whole thing up to a loss.
"We were playing with five juniors out there, and our young kids need to grow from this," Foust said. "This is a learning experience, and they did some things well. They understand what it's like to be here now, and I think that bodes well for the future."
SOLANCO 43, SHIPPENSBURG 0
Shippensburg_ 0_ 0_ 0_ 0_— _0
Solanco_ 8_ 21_ 7_ 7_— _43
Sol - Prosper Eguzouwa 28 run (Darren Whearry run), 9:10
Sol - Robbie Hassel 5 run (Cody Bleacher kick), 10:46
Sol - Noah McCardell 28 run (Bleacher kick), 3:59
Sol - Eguzouwa 21 run (Bleacher kick), 0:35
Sol - Whearry run (Bleacher kick), 7:08
Sol - Josh Weder 7 run (Charles Canby kick), 1:08
First downs_ 4 _ 21
Rushes-Yards_ 18-13 _ 59-445
Passing_ 9-18-0 _ 0-4-0
Passing Yards_ 64 _ 0
Total Yards_ 77 _ 445
Punts_ 5-36.6 _ 2-26.0
Fumbles-Lost_ 0-0 _ 0-0
Penalties-Yards_ 2-10 _ 6-50
Rushing — Ship, Cameron Tinner 10-27, Adam Houser 3-2, Noah Chavez 1-(-2), Dylan Jumper 3-(-5), Tyler Gustafson 1-(-9). Sol, Hassel 23-182, Whearry 13-108, Eguzouwa 8-82, McCardell 8-48, Jacob Turpen 2-15, Weder 3-8, Ryan Yaletchko 2-2.
Passing — Ship, T.Gustafson 9-18-64-0. Sol, McCardell 0-4-0-0.
Receiving — Ship, Wade Mills 4-47, Cody Gustafson 3-5, Houser 1-9, Tinner 1-3.