A week after running through the Millersville defense for 453 yards rushing, the West Chester University Golden Rams (3-2, 2-0 PSAC East) went back to their bread and butter and torched the Kutztown University Golden Bears 49-8 to win consecutive games for the first time this season.”Good win for us,” Head Coach Bill Zwaan said. “[Kutztown] played everyone they have played really tough. I wanted to make sure that our kids understood that they were going to have to come up here and play hard to get this done and they did. They came right out played hard right from the beginning.”
“We had a really good game plan going in,” junior quarterback Joe Wright said. “We had a great week of practice and anytime we practice like we did this week it’s hard to beat us. They played tough but we found the holes in their secondary and our receivers are pretty tough to cover.”
Wright tied a school record with six touchdown passes on the day and threw for a career-high 385 yards in two and a half quarters of play.
“[Wright] had a pretty good day,” Zwaan said. “Especially when D’Andre [Webb] goes down and we know our running game is going to be questionable, our passing game has to pick it up. That goes on Joe and he did a great job.”
“Records are good but the victory is even better,” Wright said.
On the other end of Wright’s passes, senior captain wide receiver Mike Washington caught two touchdown passes to set a school record with 49 career touchdown receptions. With one more touchdown reception, Washington will tie a PSAC conference record for touchdown catches. He will also become just the sixth wide receiver in NCAA D II history to record 50 touchdown receptions in a career.
West Chester wasted little time getting on the board. The Golden Rams would take eight plays covering 69 yards in less than four and a half minutes to put their first points on the board. Wright would complete a series of passes culminating in a 24-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Steve Miller.
The West Chester defense stepped up last week in the PSAC East opener against the Millersville Marauders and continued to play strong against the Golden Bears.
Kutztown quarterback Shane Martin would find some holes in the secondary of the Golden Rams but the defense bent but did not break as they would not allow Kutztown to score a touchdown.
After a Kutztown field goal late in the first quarter, West Chester would show that quick strike ability on their first play. Wright would drop back off a play action and find Washington wide open down the middle of the field. Washington broke a tackle and scampered 57 yards into the end zone to tie the school record for touchdown receptions in a career.
The Kutztown offense came out trying to find a way to solve the West Chester defense. On the first play of the second quarter, sophomore defensive end Travis Ford-Bey made the biggest play of his young West Chester career.
Martin would take the snap and drop back but was pressured from the left side of the West Chester defensive line. Martin tried to throw a quick pass, but it was thrown right into the arms of Ford-Bey who outran the Golden Bears offense 26 yards to score his first career touchdown on his first career interception.
“That felt great,” Ford-Bey said. “Ronnie Koons hit the quarterback and the ball just came right into my arms. I was stunned and didn’t know what to do and I just started running and hopped over the pile and just ran as fast as I could. I was very excited. It was the first one of my career.”
“It’s always great when a defensive players scores,” Zwaan said. “Especially a d-lineman.”
The Golden Rams defense would not let up. Even though Martin was able to guide his team down the field inside the 20’s, West Chester was able to keep Kutztown out the end zone. Golden Bears kicker Matt Dineen kicked his second field goal of the game to narrow the gap to 15.
With one minute remaining in the first half, West Chester again showed their quick strike ability. What looked like a three and out turned into a first and ten after a roughing the kicker penalty on Kutztown as Alex Walsh was punting.
With less than 30 seconds remaining, Wright and Washington found rhythm again and hooked up for a 26-yard pass play to put the Golden Rams inside the 20-yardline. Following a Kutztown pass interference call on a pass intended for Ryan Paulson, West Chester was setup at the 5-yard line. On the next play, Wright hit Washington for his second touchdown reception of the game to give West Chester a comfortable 28-6 lead heading into the locker room. This touchdown reception left Washington sitting alone as the all-time touchdown reception leader in school history.
Washington would finish with seven receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Wright was efficient going 12/18 for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
A week after setting the school record with 306 yards rushing, D’Andre Webb got injured mid-way through the second quarter and could not return. The status of his injury is unknown at this time but his loss did not deter West Chester.
“Once D’Andre went down I knew there was going to be a lot more pressure on the passing game,” Wright said. “We stepped up. Our line did a phenomenal job; we had one sack, which I held on to the ball too long. They’ve been doing a great job all year. Anytime you get as much time as I had back there in the pocket you’re going to be able to find open guys.”
The West Chester continued to dominate the line of scrimmage and Kutztown as they did not allow the Golden Bears offense to cross mid-field on the first drive of the second half.
When the Golden Rams got the ball back, they would increase their lead. Another quick strike approach to the game without Webb would result in Wright’s fourth touchdown pass of the game, this to Paulson from 42 yards out.
The Golden Rams offense did not have to wait long to get back on the field. On their first play, Martin would throw down the field but into the arms of West Chester freshman running back/defensive back Sal Viscount for his first career interception.
Wright and company would go back to the air, and in particular, to Paulson. Wright found a wide open Paulson running down the middle of the field for a 47-yard touchdown reception, his second of the game and Wright’s fifth of the game.
After a Kutztown three and out, Wright would tie the school record for touchdown passes in a game. Wright found Miller in the back of the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown pass. It was Miller’s second of the game.
Washington finished with a game high 142 yards receiving and two touchdowns on seven catches. Paulson had four catches for a career-high 118 yards and two touchdowns. Miller finished with five catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson Fagan led West Chester with 56 yards on 16 carries.
“It’s nice to spread it around like that,” Zwaan said of the big three having two touchdown receptions each. “Those guys are pretty good players and we thought we had the advantage there.”
The starting defense for West Chester has not allowed a touchdown since the Delaware game (Jamal Smith’s 80-yard touchdown reception, last week, was against the second team defense). They held Kutztown to 198 yards of total offense. West Chester would rack up 479 yards on offense, 405 through the air.
“All we can do is keep improving, getting better and play the best defense we can,” Ford-Bey said. “I’m satisfied with how our boys played today. We just went after them and tried to stop them on the run and stop them on the pass. We played them hard and the best we could.”
Up next for West Chester is another road test against the East Stroudsburg University Warriors at 3 p.m.
“We always look forward to [East Stroudsburg],” Wright said. “We always have good games ag
ainst them, especially last year at home. We’ll be ready for them and they’ll be ready for us.”
West Chester has won five consecutive games against Kutztown and now owns a 46-7-1 all-time record against the Golden Bears . Mike Washington is one touchdown reception away from tying the PSAC record for touchdown receptions in a career . With Washington and Paulson having over 100-yards receiving; it marked the 13th time in school history that two receivers caught for 100-yards in the same game . Dan DePalma, taking over the punt and kick return duties, averaged 26 yards on kickoff returns and 14 yards on punt returns . Washington and Miller played some snaps on defense for the second consecutive week . WCU is averaging 45 points per game against PSAC East schools while giving up nine points per game in PSAC East contests
LJ Harrell is a third-year student majoring in business. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.