Gannon University football team mounted a fierce fourth-quarter comeback attempt but fell barely short in its home opener Saturday, falling to Shippensburg, 41-33, at McConnell Family Stadium.
The Knights, who dropped to 1-1, trailed 34-13 heading into the final quarter of play before rallying mightily against the Raiders.
Gannon twice had possession deep inside Shippensburg territory in the final five minutes of play, but turnovers ended both drives.
On the first of those two chances, the Knights drove from their own 37 to Shippensburg’s 17-yard line but Zach Phillips had his pass picked off at the goal line to thwart the drive.
After Gannon’s defense forced a punt, the Knights once again marched into scoring territory, moving to the 3-yard-line after Phillips hit Brendan Klemensic on a 16-yard gain.
On the next play, Phillips fumbled and Shippensburg’s Richard Nase recovered at the Raiders’ 6-yard-line with a little over a minute to play. Shippensburg was able to run out the clock and secure the win.
The Knights won the statistical battle on offense, finishing with 475 total yards to 401 for Shippensburg. But Gannon lost a pair of fumbles and had two passes picked off while Shippensburg did not turn the ball over via fumble or interception.
The Knights also committed 10 penalties for 94 yards to five for 35 for the Raiders.
Marc Jones followed up on his strong opener by rushing for 150 yards, including touchdown sprints of 47 and 53 yards.
Phillips completed 20 of 36 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown – a 13-yard connection to Dontae Owens – and also ran for one score. Owens finished with 102 yards receiving on eight catches.
Shippensburg opened the scoring when Tyler Emge picked off a Phillips pass and returned it 25 yards for a pick-six.
Jones answered with his first score from 47 yards out and after Shippensburg went up 14-6, Phillips’ 3-yard run pulled the Knights to within a point at 14-13 early in the second quarter.
But Shippensburg responded by scoring three straight times, with the second coming with just 55 seconds remaining in the half on the second of Ryan Zapoticky’s three touchdown passes. That made it 34-13 in favor of the Raiders.
Gannon would chip away, thanks to Owens’ touchdown reception and the second of Jones’ scoring runs, to make it 41-27.
On the following possession, the Raiders couldn’t get anything going, and Gannon’s James Simms made another sparkling defensive play, blocking a punt in the end zone that would be picked up by redshirt freshman Jeremiah Brennin.
The two late turnovers would doom the Knights.
This week, Gannon looks to claim its second win of the season as the Knights travel to Bloomsburg to take on the Huskies.
Bloomsburg is coming off a win over Clarion. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.