West Ch­ester ends skid

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Neil Geoghe­gan ngeoghe­gan@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @NeilMGeoghe­gan on Twit­ter

Granted, it came against win­less Lock Haven, but there was a lot to like about West Ch­ester’s 37-7 PSAC East opener on Satur­day evening at Farrell Sta­dium.

First and fore­most, the Golden Rams ended a frus­trat­ing twogame los­ing skid, and head into next week­end’s road clash at Kutz­town with a 2-2 over­all mark. And al­though there were more than a few missed op­por­tu­ni­ties, WCU rolled up a 503-242 edge in to­tal of­fense, while quar­ter­back An­drew Derr put to­gether the most com­plete out­ing of his ca­reer.

“There were a lot of pos­i­tives,” West Ch­ester head coach Bill Zwaan said. “I feel good about a lot of things, but I am still frus­trated with the penal­ties. I don’t know if I’ve been more frus­trated with a foot­ball team than I am now with us and all of the penal­ties.”

It was a not so sub­tle jab at his team for last week­end’s mis­take-

filled 54-51 dou­ble over­time set­back at Ed­in­boro, a squad that went 0-11 a year ago. It was so dis­heart­en­ing, that se­nior safety and cap­tain Kevin Malone called a player’s only meet­ing on Sept. 18th.

“We asked our­selves what we re­ally want to do with this sea­son,” Malone re­called. “Ed­in­boro was a good team but we are much bet­ter than that. We talked about ev­ery­body be­ing ore per­son­ally ac­count­able.”

Zwaan added: “Kevin came to me and said, ‘coach, we need to talk about some things as a team.’ I said, ‘fine, go talk.’ So he called the meet­ing and they aired some things out.

“There are things that hap­pen that the coaches don’t know or hear about, so they wanted to deal with those is­sues. They took care of it and it helped.”

Al­though WCU re­sponded with a dom­i­nat­ing per­for­mance in front of a Fam­ily Day crowd of 3,680, the Rams, once again, com­mit­ted 10 penal­ties for 105 yards.

“That has to get solved,” Zwaan said. “If not, we will lose an­other game that we shouldn’t lose.”

A ju­nior who missed all of last sea­son due to off the field woes, Derr ac­counted for 344 to­tal yards on Satur­day and was re­spon­si­ble for five TDs, in­clud­ing a pair of scor­ing tosses to emerg­ing sopho­more wide­out Jor­dan Banks, and two more on the ground.

“Our of­fen­sive line was

out­stand­ing, and that gave me time to sit in the pocket, and once I can get com­fort­able, I can ei­ther run or make throws, and those guys got open for me as well,” Derr said.

In all, Banks grabbed five passes for 113 yards, and fel­low wide­out Tyler Karpin­ski added eight catches for 75 yards. On the ground, Jarel El­der chipped in with 87 yards on 18 car­ries.

“It’s long over­due for us to get a big win,” said Banks, a speed­ster from Har­ris­burg. “We are start­ing to trust each other, and play as a unit.

“As a re­ceiv­ing corps, we are still drop­ping some passes, my­self in­cluded, but I think we are im­prov­ing of­fen­sively.”

De­fen­sively, the Rams shut down the Bald Ea­gles run­ning game, lim­ited Lock Haven to just 4-for-12 on third down, and forced five fum­bles, even though nthey pounced on just one.

“If we stop get­ting penal­ties and help­ing the other team, we are play­ing good de­fense,” Zwaan said point­edly.

Derr missed some throws early, in­clud­ing a wide open Karpin­ski in the end zone. But he did find Eerin Young on a 4-yard toss for the game’s first TD early in the sec­ond quar­ter, to cul­mi­nate a 12-play, 63-yard march.

The Rams’ Bren­dan Pauli­son, how­ever, missed the ex­tra point, but the sopho­more kicker did get WCU on the board with a chip-shot field goal on the Rams first se­ries. The Rams wound up hav­ing a 260-79 edge in to­tal yards at the half but only led 16-0 fol­low­ing a 38-yard strike from Derr to Jor­dan Banks.

The Derr-Banks con­nec­tion yielded an­other touch­down in the third quar­ter, this time on a 19-yard pass, and soon there­after Derr found Young on a 45-yarder that set up his own 1-yard keeper that made it 30-0 early in the fi­nal pe­riod.

“We are def­i­nitely on the same page now,” Banks said, when asked about all of the con­nec­tions with Derr. “We know each other and he can just throw it and he knows I will be there.”

The West Ch­ester de­fense lost the shutout in the fol­low­ing pos­ses­sion that in­cluded an un­sports­man­like penalty on the Rams (much to Zwaan’s dis­may). But the Rams got it back al­most im­me­di­ately when Derr capped off the en­su­ing se­ries with his sec­ond rush­ing touch­down, this time on a 4-yarder.

“This is the play­offs for us. We’ve al­ready lost two and we don’t want to lose an­other game,” Derr said.

“An­drew made some re­ally good throws,” Zwaan added. “We are still not hit­ting on all cylin­ders, but we con­trolled the foot­ball.”

Over­all, the Rams had 15 minute edge in time of pos­ses­sion. And due to mount­ing in­juries -- and the ques­tion­able level of the op­po­si­tion -- a to­tal of 53 play­ers saw the field for WCU.

“We’d like to get more guys in, but we were play­ing a lot of guys be­cause we are dinged. Luck­ily some of the guys are step­ping up and play­ing well for us,” Zwaan said.

NOTES: Start­ing in­side line­backer Ralph Reeves did not dress for the game due to a stinger suf­fered in last week­end’s loss at Ed­in­boro. The se­nior was the team’s No. 2 tack­ler through three games. He was re­placed in the lineup by ju­nior Jus­tice Smith, who made his first ca­reer start … The grand­son of for­mer WCU head coach Bob Mit­ten (1965-71), Phil Mit­ten, saw the first ac­tion of his ca­reer for the Rams, mostly on spe­cial teams … long-snap­per, Shane Grif­fin, con­tin­ues to re­ceive play­ing time on de­fense, and the red­shirt fresh­man notched a sack and two to­tal tack­les.

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