The Golden Rams improved to 2-0 in PSAC play Saturday as they traveled to Kutztown and defeated the Golden Bears, 45-24, behind another solid performance from quarterback Mike Mattei.
The senior quarterback had his second straight game of over 300 yards passing, and while he did not find the endzone six times like he did against Millersville last week, he did not throw an interception for the third consecutive game.
The offense was once again unstoppable, scoring on seven of its 12 possessions, and the defense slowed down a very good Kutztown offense and even scored a touchdown of their own on a fumble recovery. Running back Rondell White set a career high in touchdowns with three scores. The offense scored touchdowns on all four of its redzone possessions, including all three of White’s touchdown runs.
Kutztown (1-3) started things off by going 71 yards on their first drive of the game, concluding with running back Curtis Wortham’s 11-yard scamper halfway through the first quarter. The Golden Rams answered right back, as Mattei hooked up with receiver Jim Kelly on a 29-yard pass with just over three minutes remaining in the first to tie it at seven.
In the second quarter, West Chester started to take control with a 48-yard field goal by kicker Shawn Leo, tying his career long, which was followed up by one-yard plunge by White with just under four minutes remaining in the half. With all the momentum, the visiting Rams took a 17-7 lead into the locker rooms.
In the second half, the Golden Bears did their best in keeping it close by returning the kickoff 98 yards for a score. It marked the second straight week in which West Chester’s opponent returned a kickoff for a touchdown; last weekend Millersville took one 97 yards in one of their few bright spots against the Rams. Mattei had the answer, which seems to be a common theme this season, as he connected with receiver Adam Dempsey for a 38-yard touchdown. The defense got in on the action as defensive lineman Andrew Cohen returned a fumble for six points to stretch their lead to 31-14.
A Kutztown field goal late in the third pulled them within 14, but that was the closest they would get on this night. Two White touchdowns in the first six minutes of the fourth put the game beyond reach. With over 11 minutes to play, White ran one in from four yards out, capping off an 11-play, 73-yard drive that took up almost six minutes. The second one came exactly two minutes later, this one being an eight-yard run to finish off a drive that started at Kutztown’s 13-yard line.
Kutztown scored with under three minutes to go, but that really just delayed the inevitable, bringing the final score to 45-24. In their two PSAC East matchups so far this year, the Golden Rams are outscoring their opponents 101-38. This has been done without their starting quarterback, Sean McCartney, who broke his ankle in the first game of the year against Delaware and will miss the remainder of the season.
Kutztown came into the game having lost their last two games, both to nationally-ranked opponents. Two weeks ago, they fell to top-ten-ranked California (Pa.), 48-45, and last week fell to PSAC East rival Bloomsburg, ranked No. 12, 44-37. The two PSAC East losses put the preseason favorites in a deep hole with five games remaining against fellow PSAC foes.
The Golden Rams were once again led on offense by Mattei. Last week, Mattei was named Co-Offensive Player of the Week in the PSAC with his six-touchdown performance. This week, he went an impressive 19-for-26 for 318 yards and two scores. After Saturday’s performance, Mattei has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 953 yards and 11 touchdowns compared with only one interception. His quarterback rating is an astounding 200.41.
As far as the ground game goes, White had his first score since his break-out game against Delaware. He scored three times Saturday afternoon on 29 carries piling up 78 yards along the way. As a team, the Rams managed only 85 yards rushing on 37 carries with neither team having much success throughout the game. Kutztown averaged 2.8 yards per carry, slightly more than West Chester’s 2.3 yards per carry. Kelly and LaRonn Lee were Mattei’s primary targets through the air. Kelly caught five passes for exactly 100 yards and one score. Lee had six catches for a respectable 70 yards.
Linebacker Ronell Williams led the defense in slowing down the Golden Bears offense. Williams had a team-high 12 tackles, a sack and an interception which he returned for 29 yards. Defensive back Matt Carroll and defensive lineman Anthony McCloskey each recorded a sack with Carroll forcing the fumble that Cohen scooped up and took to the house in the third quarter.
Next up for the Golden Rams is a trip to California (4-0) to take on the top-ten-ranked Vulcans. The Vulcans will be a great test for this streaking West Chester team. Saturday’s game will kick off at 3:30 pm.
Riley Wallace is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. He can be reached at RW718681@wcupa.edu.