For the second time in three weeks, Osagie Osunde made West Chester history.Two weeks ago against Clarion, Osunde first left his mark on the West Chester history books, as the red shirt senior broke the record for most career touchdowns, previously held by Joe Iaccone, when he cut between defenders for a 24 yard touchdown scamper against Clarion two weeks ago.
Not done yet, Osunde once again etched his name amongst West Chester’s all time greats, when he became the all-time leading scorer in school history during Saturday’s 44-28 victory over the Bloomsburg Huskies.
Ironically, the historic points came not by ground, but by air at the end of the first quarter. Just as time expired, Bill Zwaan Jr. dropped back and spotted Osunde who dashed between defenders to tally his 294th career point, besting Brian Penecale’s previous mark of 292, set in the 1995 season.
It is fitting that Osunde break the scoring record in this win, against this team on Saturday afternoon, homecoming of all games, at Farrell Stadium. You see, Osunde hails from Columbia Pa, a short drive from Redman Stadium, the home of the Huskies, and bragging rights are still up for grabs to this day.
“As long as I don’t have to hear [the trash talk] when I get home,” Osunde said. “So now I don’t have to listen to it for another six months, a year until we play them next time,.”
It’s been some time since Osunde could retreat to central Pennsylvania and find peace and quiet following a matchup against Bloomsburg. The Golden Rams had not beaten the Huskies since 2004 prior to Saturday’s mammoth homecoming win.
Osunde has pieced together an NFL-worthy resume during his five year career here, despite nagging knee injuries that limited his playing time in recent years.
The tailback earlier this season surpassed the 3,000-yard rushing milestone for his career, and has the opportunity to pass Derrick Price’s mark of 4,001 rushing yards, at some point this season.
Sooner or later one needs to ask a fairly debatable question. Is this guy the best running back to ever lace them up in a purple and gold uniform?
Yes there have been several great running backs who strolled the halls of West Chester University. But Osunde’s name rightfully belongs alongside the likes of Derrick Price, Iacone and Mike Eckmeyer to name a few.
Price is the all-time leading rusher in school history, and he set the bar rather high. From 1987 to 1990, the tailback registered a whopping 4,001 yards rushing. As if that weren’t enough, he also ranks second all time in yards per game, posting 279 against Cheyney in 1990, and holds the third highest total in single season rushing yards, with 1,457.
The runner who Osunde surpassed for the most career touchdowns is Joe Iaccone. Iaccone had 41 career touchdowns, and is tied for most rushing touchdowns in one season with 18. In 2004, Osunde came within one of that mark, with 17. Iaccone also fell 44 yards shy of breaking Price’s career rushing mark in 1962.
Another worthy candidate for this distinction is Eckmeyer. The tailback who laced them up from 2000 to 2003 deserves consideration as the school’s top runner.
Eckmeyer holds the record for most career 100-yard rushing games, with 23. The back embarked on a 16-game streak, spanning two seasons of consecutive 100-yard rushing games. In 2002, he set the record for most games topping the century mark in a season with ten.
Osunde’s statistics, mentioned earlier, speak for themselves. And those staggering numbers simply scratch the surface when you consider a body of work that includes Osunde ranking as a 2004 All-PSAC East running back, a 2004 ECAC Division II all-star selection, and a 2004 honorable mention All American, and All-Northeast region award.
What’s so impressive about Osunde’s numerous awards, accolades and incredible numbers is the adversity that he has been forced to overcome throughout his career. Few running backs have escaped unscathed as a workhorse running back and accomplished what Osunde has under such circumstances.
In each of the last two seasons, Osunde has suffered season ending leg injuries, and the questions still linger even four weeks into the 2007 campaign.
“I’m finally starting to get healthy,” Osunde said, following his historic performance on Saturday. “Hopefully I can be fresh for the second half of the season.”
Osunde’s detractors will point to those injuries and see a career rife with disappointment and even some unrealized potential, but that assesment simply is not fair. To criticize a player for missing time due to injury, shows a tremendous lack of foresight when you take into consideration the numbers that back produced when healthy.
It is not inconceivable for Osunde to walk away from his final collegiate season holding nearly every statistical record here at West Chester. Had it not been for his injuries along the way, it might be Osunde, and not Bloomsburg’s Jamar Brittingham being touted as perhaps the best Division II running back in the nation.
At the very least, Osunde deserves to be mentioned among the top running backs in the history of West Chester University football.
Matt Lombardo hosts a weekly sports talk radio show, Saturdays from noon-2pm on 91.7 FM WCUR and is syndicated worldwide online at www.wcur.fm
Mat t Lombardo is a third-year student majoring in Communiocation studies. He can be reached at ML606516@wcupa.edu