WCU out­slugs Blooms­burg

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

Other than a few foot­ball purists in at­ten­dance, Satur­day’s penalty-filled grid­iron clash was kind of dif­fi­cult to watch. But for West Ch­ester head coach Bill Zwaan, his team’s 27-7 de­fen­sive gem against Blooms­burg was an ab­so­lute thing of beauty.

“It was one of the best de­fen­sive games that we’ve ever played in my ten­ure,” said Zwaan, who is in his 14th-year at the helm. “We’ve had a cou­ple against Millersville and Cheyney, but when you do it against Blooms­burg, that takes it to a whole other level.”

To say that the PSAC East grudge match was a de­fen­sive strug­gle would be an un­der­state­ment. But time and time again, the Golden Rams stymied the Huskies of­fense, putting a damper on Home­com­ing fes­tiv­i­ties at Red­men Sta­dium.

“It was un­be­liev­able,” Zwaan said. “This is a tough place to play and our guys put forth a fan­tas-

tic ef­fort de­fen­sively. We are a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed we didn’t get the shutout, but it doesn’t take away from what a great ef­fort it was.”

Now boast­ing a mod­est two-game win­ning streak, WCU improves to 4-3 over­all and re­mains in con­tention in the divi­sion race at 3-1. Blooms­burg falls to 2-2 (4-3 over­all) and is al­most cer­tainly elim­i­nated.

“Up here at Blooms­burg, ev­ery­thing is tough,” said WCU de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Fur­long. “For us, we haven’t had a lot of clean ef­forts this sea­son. We’ve been fight­ing ev­ery­thing all year, so it was great to have a game where we did al­most ev­ery­thing right.”

It was very nearly West Ch­ester’s first shutout vic­tory in the series in 34 years, but the Huskies fi­nally scored with 16 sec­onds re­main­ing against the Rams’ sec­ond stringers. In all, the Huskies man­aged only 246 yards of to­tal of­fense, and just 100 yards on the ground.

“We knew if we could stop their run and make them pass, it would be to our ad­van­tage, and that’s what we did,” ex­plained de­fen­sive tackle Josh Ganzelli. “We were fir­ing off the ball, we were ag­gres­sive and we tried to hit them be­fore they hit us.”

Of­fen­sively, the Rams ex­pe­ri­enced some pre­dictable woes against a solid BU de­fense, but the more im­por­tant num­ber for WCU was zero – as in zero turnovers. Quar­ter­back Pat Mo­ri­arty made his third start of the sea­son (An­drew Derr is out with an in­jured hand), and was ef­fi­cient, if not spec­tac­u­lar.

“We just didn’t want to put our de­fense into bad spots, and we knew even­tu­ally things would start to open up for us, and it did,” Zwaan pointed out. “When we don’t have turnovers, we are a re­ally good foot­ball team.”

The Rams led 14-0 at the half, lim­ited the Huskies to 54 yards of of­fense and had knocked Blooms­burg quar­ter­back, Chris Palu­bin­sky, out of the game. He failed to com­plete a pass in nine tries be­fore giv­ing way to Duffy Gil­hool.

“We played awe­some,” ju­nior line­backer Kevin Dug­gan said of the de­fense.

“I thought our sec­ondary played well and that al­lowed us to put an ex­tra guy in there on the run,” Zwaan added. “We got off blocks, fought to the foot­ball and did all of the things you need to do to stop a run­ning team like Blooms­burg.”

Cling­ing to a two TD lead, the Rams closed it out with two fourth quar­ter scores. Run­ning back Jerel El­der notched his sec­ond of two rush­ing touch­downs on the day, and backup quar­ter­back Paul Doo­ley scored on a 3-yard keeper, which was set up by a 53-yard run by team­mate Eerin Young.

“We are start­ing to form into the team we thought we’d be at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son,” Dug­gan said.

A penalty did negate a third quar­ter score by El­der, but the only other big sec­ond half neg­a­tive came when Gol­hool found Chad Hoff­man for a 16-yard strike in the fi­nal minute to end the shutout.

“Our whole side­line wanted that shutout re­ally bad,” Ganzelli said.

“When it first hap­pened, I was up­set, but we have to play those (sub­sti­tutes), they are prac­tic­ing hard and we might need them,” Fur­long added. “Those eight snaps at the end of the game will help us get those kids a lit­tle bet­ter.”

The Rams man­aged just a sin­gle first down in the open­ing quar­ter, but did put to­gether a pair of scor­ing drives in the sec­ond, in­clud­ing an epic 11-play, 94yard march that opened the scor­ing. A 34-yard pass from Mo­ri­arty to fresh­man tight end Cody Boozel set up the score, a 9-yard run by El­der.

“That drive was huge and we needed it,” Zwaan said.

On its next pos­ses­sion, a 46-yard flea-flicker moved WCU into the red zone, and the Rams made it 14-0 on a per­fectly ex­e­cuted play-ac­tion pass from Mo­ri­arty to wide­out Mar­cus Syd­nor.

West Ch­ester rolled up 433 yards of to­tal of­fense, and had a 136-yard edge on the ground, with El­der and Young com­bin­ing for 183 yards on 29 car­ries. For the game, Mo­ri­arty was 11 of 18 for 197 yards, and his fa­vorite tar­get was wide­out Tyler Karpin­ski, who hauled in four passes for 105 yards.

But the real star was the en­tire WCU de­fense. No­body had more than seven tack­les, but de­fen­sive ends Ch’Aim (sack, fum­ble re­cov­ery) and John Dubyk (six tack­les, sack) were big­play stand­outs.

“We hadn’t been able to out to­gether two full halves, and (Satur­day) we fi­nally did it,” Smith said.

“The thing about our de­fense is we have great depth across the board. So even if we are miss­ing some great play­ers, we now have that edge to go as hard as we can ev­ery play.”

NOTES: In ad­di­tion to Derr, sev­eral other starters did not dress for the game, in­clud­ing wide­out Shan­non Mayer (ham­string), line­backer Ralph Reeves (neck) and de­fen­sive line­man George Shipp (foot) … It was a penalty-filled clash, with both WCU and BU get­ting flagged a dozen times each. “If we can cut down on the penal­ties, we will be even bet­ter,” Zwaan said.

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