KU falls in final minute to West Chester
WEST CHESTER » Kutztown University’s Conor Sullivan (Whitehall, Pa./Whitehall) caught a touchdown pass and quarterback Collin DiGalbo (Secane, Pa./ Monsignor Bonner) found Josh Lee (Willow Grove, Pa./Abington (Thaddeus Stevens)) on the two-point conversion try to tie the game at 21-21 with 1:55 to go, but West Chester University answered with the game-winning touchdown on the final drive to down the Golden Bears 27-21 on Saturday afternoon in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division action from John A. Farrell Stadium.
Two significant plays down the stretch were an 85-yard West Chester touchdown pass on thirddown late in the third quarter, and on the final kickoff in a tie game, West Chester broke off a 46-yard kick return and KU was penalized 15 yards to setup West Chester deep inside KU territory.
Notably, Kutztown drove inside the West Chester 5-yardline twice in the first quarter, but settled for two field goals.
Saturday was a battle between the two favorites in the PSAC East. 2017 favorite West Chester moves to 4-1 and 2-0 in the PSAC, while defending champion Kutztown falls to 3-2 and 1-1 in the PSAC. The loss snapped Kutztown’s 11game PSAC East winning streak.
The Golden Bear defense played extremely well down the stretch, forcing multiple West Chester punts to give the KU offense a chance at tying the game. The final stand came with 3:27 to play, as a short West Chester punt gave KU the ball at the WCU 39-yardline, trailing by eight.
DiGalbo completed first-down passes to Sullivan and Lee on the drive, setting up a 3rd-and-5 at the 10-yardline with 2:02 to play. DiGalbo dropped back and found Sullivan in the back left corner of the end zone for the 10-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 21-19 and setting up a needed two-point try. DiGalbo rolled to his right on the try and found Lee at the near pylon for the successful try and tie the game at 21-21 with 1:55 to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, West Chester’s Jarel Elder took the return 46 yards across midfield, and combined with a 15-yard KU penalty, set West Chester up inside the KU 35-yardline. The KU defense stood its ground and forced West Chester into a 3rdand-5 inside 1:00 to play, but the Golden Rams connected on a 17yard touchdown pass to eventually win the game. Jhaloni Johnson (Flourtown, Pa./Springfield Township) blocked the extrapoint attempt to hold WCU to a 27-21 lead with 49 seconds to play.
Kutztown started with good field position near midfield following a West Chester penalty. On second down, DiGalbo scrambled out of the pocket and threw an interception under pressure to seal the fate for KU’s second loss of the year.
KU played without its greatest weapon offensively. Running back Craig Reynolds (Willow Grove, Pa./Abington) started, but saw limited time due to an injury. Reynolds entered Saturday third in Division II at 230.75 all-purpose yards per game. West Chester ran for 56 yards — just Jim Clements’ second career loss at KU when holding a team to less than 100 rushing yards.
KU had more first downs (1614) than West Chester, but rushed for a season-low 60 yards and allowed West Chester quarterback
Paul Dooley to throw for 318 yards.
DiGalbo threw for 205 yards and a score, but often found himself on the run while getting sacked four times. Sullivan was his top target with five catches for 71 yards and the gametying touchdown.
The Kutztown defense was sharp with a seasonhigh 11 tackles-for-loss for the second week in a row. Jalen Nieves (Bensalem, Pa./ Bensalem), Zameer McDowell (Royersford, Pa./SpringFord (California (Pa.)) and Luke Snyder (Levittown, Pa./Pennsbury) each had seven tackles apiece, while McDowell added 2.0 TFL. Nieves moved into 19th in school history with 210 career tackles.
Chris Kimbiz (Brick, N.J./Brick Township) had a team-high 2.5 TFL and a sack in a six-tackle game.
Three players had interceptions for KU — Tajier Jefferson (East Orange, N.J./Queen of Peace) on the second play of the game, Shawn Turber-Ortiz (Northumberland, Pa./Shikellamy) at KU’s own 1-yardline, and Jake Perry (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) in the fourth quarter.
The defense held West Chester scoreless and to nine total yards in the first quarter, including an interception by Jefferson. KU went on to drive inside the 5-yardline on two occasions in the first quarter, but was forced to settle for two Alec Rosenfeld (Bensalem, Pa./Bensalem) field goals for a 6-0 lead after the first quarter.
It marked Rosenfeld’s 19th and 20th career field goals, moving into third in school history.
After being held to nine total yards in the first quarter, West Chester opened the second-quarter with a 65-yard touchdown drive, capped with a 39-yard touchdown pass between two defenders to Tyler Karpinski for a 7-6 West Chester lead.
Turber-Ortiz picked off his third pass of the year to stop West Chester inside the red-zone in the second quarter — KU’s first redzone stop of the season — to preserve the 1-point deficit midway through the second quarter.
Late in the half, West Chester mounted another long drive, this time running it in from the 1-yardline and a 14-6 halftime lead.