On Saturday, the West Chester University Golden Rams (2-2, 1-0 PSAC East) got the chance to play under the lights of Farrell Stadium and they did not disappoint. Behind the legs of D’Andre Webb, the Golden Rams defeated the Millersville University Marauders 41-10 in the PSAC East opener for both teams.The sophomore tailback ran for a school record and career-high 306 yards against the Marauders in only three quarters of play. The 306 yards also marked the highest output for a running back in all of Division II this season.
“We did a great job,” Webb said. “I did all right but the offensive linemen did a great job. I ran behind them that is where it all came from.”
“D’Andre had a really good day,” Head Coach Bill Zwaan said. “Great job by him. He is coming into his own, but he has to now because Lee [Hopkins] is hurt.”
On the first play, Lee Hopkins was injured and would not return. This made Webb the focal point of the West Chester rushing attack.
“I feel bad for him,” Webb said of Hopkins’ injury. “When he went down I knew I had to step my game up and the offensive line had to step their game up because I’m still a young guy.”
A week after gaining only 16 yards on 17 carries, the Golden Rams made it a point to get their running game back on track.
“It feels great, but that wasn’t the purpose,” Webb said of his career game. “We just came out here to get the win so mission accomplished.”
“[Webb] took a couple of things and ran passed everybody,” Zwaan said. “He has great speed and he is a very physical runner. He has a lot of tools, now he has his chance, and he showed that tonight with his chance and he did pretty well.”
West Chester came out of the gates strong. Quarterback Joe Wright hit wide receiver Steve Miller for a 44-yard reception to put the Golden Rams within the 10-yard line. A play later, Webb would score his first of four touchdowns, this from eight yards out.
“We came out with a pretty balanced game plan,” Webb said. “We had a couple of penalties that brought passes back but we found something that worked.”
Millersville’s offense which has been inept this season at best, continued to struggle as they went three and out on their first possession.
It looked as if the Marauders were going to be given life when Wright fumbled the snap and junior safety Julius Carter recovered the ball at the West Chester 35-yard line, but after a Bill Shirk 20-yard pass to Andy Tischbein, West Chester junior inside linebacker Mike Dell intercepted his second pass of the season and return it 35 yards to give the Golden Ram offense the ball back.
A couple of possessions later, the West Chester offense turned back to Webb. Webb would run off a series of big runs. Wright would hit Miller for a first down pass. Webb would get on the board again when he turned the corner and ran in another score from 24-yards out to give West Chester the two touchdown lead.
After playing quarterback to start the season, Jamal Smith would get his first reception as the new starting receiver for the Marauders when Shirk hit him on a 19-yard pass which would set up a 45-yard field goal attempt that would be no good.
West Chester would get the ball at their own 28-yard line, but it would not take long to score. Webb would bust off a 70-yard run, his second longest of the game, to put the Golden Rams inside the 5-yard line. One play later, Webb would score his third touchdown of the half to up the lead to 21 points.
The Marauders offense finally began to get in rhythm. Shirk would find Tischbein for 27 more yards. After taking six and a half minutes off the clock, Millersville would finally get on the board after a John Banzhof field goal.
“There were a couple of times before the end of the half where they moved the ball a little bit and our kids stuffed them,” Zwaan said. “They came up big when we needed to. We played pretty good defense.”
After one half of play, Webb led all rushers with 155-yards rushing and three touchdowns. Wright would only throw eight passes for 86 yards, none of which went to senior Mike Washington. Miller led West Chester receivers with 58 yards on two receptions.
West Chester picked up where they left off in the first half. Following a Millersville three and out, Webb would get begin to carry the load, but Wright showed off the wheels as well. After a Webb 26-yard gain, Wright would take the ball off of a bootleg and run 25 yards for his first career rushing touchdown.
“Joe is really a smart kid,” Zwaan said. “He actually called that play. He said ‘coach let me run the zone read I got it.’ Even as he was snapping I didn’t know if I liked it and he took it in the end zone and I like it.”
The Marauders still could not solve the West Chester defense, but they also could not solve Webb. After a false start penalty on the offense, Webb would take the ball off the right side of the line and scamper 87 yards down the sideline for his fourth and final touchdown of the game.
After this carry, Webb had 308 yards rushing which is a new WCU record. His four touchdowns, also a career high, was one away from a school record.
“I knew I was able to do it, but I’m not a cocky person,” Webb said. “This was a great win to bounce back. We came out and we defended our PSAC [East] Championship and that was our plan. We got the job done.”
West Chester finished scoring for the day after Wright connected with Washington a couple of times before throwing his only touchdown strike of the game. Washington would run to the corner of the end zone where Wright would hit him for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Millersville would score their first touchdown in over seven quarters when Shirk hit Smith for an 80-yard catch and run to end the scoring.
West Chester racked up 453 yards rushing, led by Webb’s 306 yards. Millersville ran for only 101 yards. The Millersville passing attack, which only had 42 yards last week, racked up 243 yards on the night. Wright passed for 146 yards and one touchdown. Redshirt freshman Jared Jorgensen saw action for the third consecutive week. Jackson Fagan rushed for 81 yards which was second on the team.
“That’s one of the things we wanted to do coming into this game was to run the ball better than we have,” Zwaan said. “Last week against Delaware we didn’t run the ball at all. We got it going tonight and that was one of the things we were hoping to get done.”
Next week, West Chester travels to Kutztown for the annual battle of Golden Glory at 1 p.m. with the Golden Bears.
Head coach Bill Zwaan was honored at the beginning of the game for his 100th career victory two weeks ago against Lock Haven . Washington now has 47 career touchdowns, one away from tying a school record . West Chester has won 25 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 20 points . West Chester is now 59-17 against Millersville . West Chester has won 10 straight PSAC East games.
LJ Harrell is a third-year student majoring in business. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.