For the 16th consecutive time, the West Chester University Golden Rams strolled into Tubby Raymond Field on the campus of the University of Delaware looking to end their long losing streak against the Blue Hens. And for the 16th consecutive time, Delaware steamrolled the Golden Rams (1-1), this time easily dispatching of West Chester 35-0.West Chester entered the game confident that they could finally get over the hump at Delaware. But the Blue Hens, led by Penn State transfer Pat Devlin, overcame first quarter struggles to win their home and season opener.
“I think he played well,” Head Coach Bill Zwaan said of Devlin. “There are probably a couple throws he wants back but you figure that in the first game. The thing that worries you about him is he’s athletic and he can take off and run.”
To begin the game West Chester implemented a two-quarterback attack for the first time this season. Besides senior quarterback Joe Wright taking the reigns as the starter, sophomore Scott Bradish made his first career appearance as a Golden Ram during the game. Bradish, a transfer from Delaware two years ago, showed a lot of athletic ability when given the opportunity.
“We thought that Scott Bradish can run that offense pretty well,” Zwaan said. “So we said let’s try it in this game and see what it looks like and he did pretty well with it. Now it kind of gives us another little variation in there. Like in this game when we’re trying to find something, that helps.”
Unfortunately for the Golden Rams, Delaware was prepared for everything that West Chester threw at them. Wright, who was not sacked last week against Lock Haven, was sacked on the third play of the game by Blue Hen’s senior defensive tackle Brandon Gilbeaux.
“We can never do what we should do,” Zwaan said about what happens when his team faces Delaware. “You know we have a couple people open and Joe overthrows them. Maybe that makes a difference.”
Following the punt, Devlin took the field for the first time as a Delaware Blue Hen. Devlin orchestrated a 10-play, 46-yard drive that ended with his first touchdown pass of the season to All-American tight end Josh Baker.
“They have a good offense,” senior defensive back Corey Rhood said of Delaware.
The West Chester defense played well throughout the first half following the opening possession touchdown by Delaware. On the Blue Hens’ next possession, senior linebacker Mike Dell forced Baker to fumble the ball, which Golden Rams’ defensive lineman Jason Hunt picked up to give the West Chester offense possession at the Delaware 48 yard-line.
“They played hard from beginning to end,” Zwaan said about the defense. “We didn’t give them any help offensively and eventually they broke down. But they played hard and they played well.”
“I think as a defense we played well,” senior linebacker Sam Scott said. “As a team there are a lot of things that we have to still tighten down. We had too many mistakes, like little things. We played pretty well as a defense for most of the game.”
West Chester was not able to make an impact after receiving the ball back. The Golden Rams did not record a first down until the 4:10 mark of the second quarter.
Following a Wright interception by Blue Hen’s defensive back Anthony Walters that was returned 33 yards to end the first quarter, Devlin scored his second touchdown of the game, this time rushing, to increase the Delaware lead.
After spending the majority of the first and second quarters on the field, the West Chester defense began to tire. With less than six minutes remaining in the first half, Devlin found wide receiver Tommy Crosby for a 31-yard score. Crosby beat senior defensive back Kevin Garland for the long score.
The Golden Ram’s defense came out to start the second half looking to spark the team. But Devlin quickly ended any hope that West Chester had when he completed a 52-yard pass to wide receiver Mark Mackey, which was followed by a 6-yard touchdown run by David Hayes.
The West Chester defense once again had to take the field after the offense went three and out. Devlin ended his day watching backup running back Phillip Thaxton scamper 29 yards for the final score of the evening.
“I’m not frustrated at all,” Rhood said of the inconsistencies of the offense. “We’re a team, we’re one unit. There are going to be times during the season when our defense is hurting and they are going to bail us out. It’s a good test for them because Delaware’s defense is a heck of a defense. I’m not disappointed in them at all.”
Wright finished 8-20 for 59 yards and one interception. Bradish led West Chester with 39 yards rushing. D’Andre Webb had 27 yards on the ground. Senior wide receiver Steve Miller, playing in his first game after missing last week’s game against Lock Haven, had three receptions for a team leading 25 yards.
Devlin finished 12-15 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Hayes led all rushers with 57 yards and one touchdown. Thaxton also had 51 yards rushing. Mackey led all receivers with five receptions for 83 yards.
Rhood led the West Chester defense with a career-high eight tackles and a pass breakup. Senior linebacker T.J. Cascio finished with six tackles. Abe Brooks recorded the only sack by a Golden Ram.
Delaware held West Chester to 176 yards of total offense, while amassing 400 yards of their own. The Golden Rams averaged 2.8 yards per play compared to the Blue Hens’ 6.1 yard per play.
“There are definitely positives,” Zwaan said. “I don’t want to say that it is a complete negative game. But there is a lot of stuff that we have to straighten out offensively, still. We didn’t have a good camp offensively, we didn’t have a good first game, and we didn’t have a good second game. We got to have a pretty good game pretty soon because Cal is coming up. But defensively we are playing well; I think there are some positive there and I think our special teams are pretty solid.”
“We can take a lot of positives out of this game,” Rhood said. “The way our defense fought, we are really excited going against Cal, and it’s another tough test. We think Cal’s offense is just as good as the Delaware offense. It’s going to be a tough test and we know our offense is going to come through and they are going to correct some things, and they are going to be top of the line come next week.”
“We didn’t quit,” Scott said. “We were with these guys and if we can stay with a D-I team then we can stay with pretty much any D-II team. We are going to take that, learn from that and try to build on this for next week.”
Next week, West Chester looks to get back to their winning ways with a rematch of last year’s Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Championship game. On Saturday, the California University (Pa.) Vulcans travel to John A. Farrell Stadium as the Golden Rams play in their home opener beginning at 12 p.m.
Delaware is now 44-6-2 against West Chester all-time . The last time WCU was shutout against Delaware was in 2000, when the score was 84-0 . Quarterback Joe Wright did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time in his last 15 games . For the first time, West Chester showcased their wildcat offense, with D’Andre Webb taking the snap
LJ Harrell is a fourth-year student majoring in Business. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.