CHAMBERSBURG >> Coming into the game, Shippensburg football’s key to beating William Penn was to slow down running back Dayjure Stewart.
And while the Greyhounds shut down Stewart and the Bearcats for most of three quarters, it was Stewart who provided the dagger and led William Penn to a 22-6 win in the quarterfinals of the District 3 Class 5A Playoffs on Friday night at Trojan Stadium.
The Greyhounds finish their season with a 10-2 record with one playoff win and a share of the Mid Penn Colonial Division title.
Stewart, who averaged 12 yards per carry going into the game, was held to 84 yards on 13 carries in the first half for the Bearcats (11-1), who trailed 6-0 at the break.
But after William Penn benefited from two Shippensburg penalties to tie the game at 6, Stewart broke free.
After forcing Ship to turn the ball over deep in Bearcat territory, Stewart took a handoff to the right side and outran the Ship defense for a 71-yard score to give the Bearcats a 14-6 lead. The Hounds fumbled on their next drive, and William Penn took advantage of a short field to put the game to rest on Stewart’s third touchdown of the game. Stewart finished with 222 yards on 29 carries. The rest of the offense totaled just 25 yards.
“We knew they were going to score. So, we knew we had to put up points,” said Ship running back Adam Houser, who ran 21 times for 128 yards. “They have a good running back, and it was just a matter of time until he broke free.”
Shippensburg set the tone early and controlled most of the first half. On their first drive, the Hounds drove all the way to the Bearcat 2 behind a 60-yard run from Houser, but William Penn made a stop on 4th & goal from the four to get the ball back.
But Ship kept the momentum when Houser intercepted a pass and ran it back over 50 yards to the William Penn 21-yard line, setting up a five-yard run by Houser to give Ship an early 6-0 lead.
“We all know Adam is special,” Ship coach Eric Foust said. “He showed it again tonight. But honestly, this whole team is special. This group of seniors have been so great for our program. They went 3-3 in playoff games. Our goal used to be to get into playoffs. Then it was to win the division. Now, because of this group, it is to win games in playoffs and advance. I selfishly want to keep coaching them.”
Along with his 128 yards rushing, Houser also caught one pass for 10 yards. He finishes his career as the single-season rushing leader and career rushing leader at Shippensburg.
Said Houser, “I couldn’t have wished for anything more. Between the group of guys, my coaches and the community. I love Shippensburg with all my heart. I think this has prepared me for more than just football. It’s prepared me as a person, too.”
And while the sting of defeat will linger, the Greyhounds first season in Class 5A will ultimately be deemed a success.
“Everybody loses at some point. That’s not what is going to hurt the most,” Foust said. “These kids were just so much fun and worked so hard. We had so many special kids on this team. They played their hearts out tonight, and I think if some things go our way, we could have pulled this game out. But I’m so proud of these guys.”
For Ship, Jacob Loy added 90 yards on 20 carries. Zack Manning finished 6 of 15 with 87 yards, and Nick Gustafson finished with four catches for 72 yards.
William Penn threw the ball just four times and had two touchdowns negated in the first half due to penalties.
WILLIAM PENN 22, SHIPPENSBURG 6
William Penn 0 – 0 – 6 – 16 — 22
Shippensburg 0 – 6 – 0 – 0 — 6
S — Adam Houser 5 run (kick failed), 11:55
WP — Dayjure Stewart 13 run (try failed), 3:34
WP — Stewart 71 run (Stewart run)
WP — Stewart 5 run (Stewart run), 5:00
First Downs: WP 12; S 14. Rushes-yards: WP 39-228; S 43-220. Passing: WP 2-4-1; S 6-16-0. Passing Yards: WP 19; S 87. Penalties-yards: WP 6-41; S 6-74. Punts-yards: WP 2-28.5; S 2-17.5. Fumbles-lost: WP 0-0; S 2-1.
Rushing: William Penn, Stewart 29-222, Tobee Stokes 2-10, Tino Conquest 1-1, Seth Bernstein 7-(-5); Shippensburg, Houser 21-128, Jacob Loy 20-90, Colton Musser 1-4, Zack Manning 1-(-2).
Passing: William Penn, Bernstein 2-4-1, 19 yards; Shippensburg, Manning 6-15-0, 87 yards.
Receiving: William Penn, Robert Rideout 2-19; Shippensburg, Nick Gustafson 4-72, Isaiah Houser 1-5, Adam Houser 1-10.