The Golden Rams capped off their 2012 campaign with a convincing win on the road over PSAC West foe Clarion, 33-12, Saturday afternoon.
West Chester (7-4) scored the first 26 points of the game behind four field goals by kicker Shawn Leo, to put the game out of reach against Clarion (4-7) and finish off the 2012 season with a victory. The Rams outplayed the Golden Eagles winning the time of possession battle by nine minutes.
Clarion’s offensive struggles continued Saturday afternoon. Coming into the game they had lost four of their last five games with the only win coming against winless Lock Haven (0-10) by two points. In the first four drives of the game, the Golden Eagles racked up a grand total of 35 yards of total offense resulting in three punts and a lost fumble.
On the opening kickoff, returner and backup running back Brandon Monk took it 56 yards to the Clarion 39 yard line, giving the Golden Rams great starting field position. Eight plays later, Leo kicked his first field goal of the day from 40 yards out giving West Chester an early 3-0 lead.
That was all the scoring for the opening quarter, but once again West Chester struck early in the second quarter. Leo hit the mark from 32 yards out in the first minute of the quarter, capping off a drive of 59 yards that lasted over six and a half minutes.
The Rams took further advantage of Clarion’s inability to put points on the board by tacking on two touchdowns before the end of the half. On the first, wide receiver Erick Brundidge caught a 26-yard pass from quarterback Mike Mattei. The second score was achieved on the ground as running back Rondell White ran 11 yards to put West Chester ahead 20-0 at the break.
The second half started much the same as the first half did, with two Leo field goals. With just over three minutes to go in the third quarter Leo put one through from 45 yards, and with over seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, he hit from 36 yards to make it 26-0 West Chester.
Clarion finally managed to get on the board with under six minutes remaining on 64 yard pass, but the two-point conversion failed and the score remained in the Rams favor, 26-6. To dispel any hopes of a comeback, Monk ran one in from six yards out to push the lead to 27, 33-6. An Eagles touchdown with 13 seconds remaining made the final score 33-12, but the outcome was never in doubt heading into the final quarter.
White once again starred in the ground game, this time rushing for a season-high 227 yards on 38 carries. It was his fourth 200-yard rushing game of the season. The game brings White’s rushing total to 1,548 as he broke the school’s single-season rushing record previously held by Mike Eckmeyer, who rushed for 1,539 yards in 2002. White will need to improve upon his mark next year, as he stands 1,661 yards from the all-time career rushing record heading into his senior year.
Mattei finished the day going 19-for-33 for 202 yards and a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions. He finished the season with 2,552 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, completing almost 60 percent of his passes and only throwing 10 interceptions.
Wide Receiver Jim Kelly caught 10 passes Saturday, accumulating 77 yards. Kelly tied with White for the team lead in receptions on the year with 51, with Kelly piling up 712 yards to White’s 624. White caught a team-high seven touchdown passes, giving him 18 total touchdowns on the year.
Now, while 16 seniors will not be returning next season for the Golden Rams, key players will be returning on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. On offense, quarterback Sean McCartney, who suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the year against Delaware, will be returning for his senior season. White will also be coming back and Brundidge will be back for his junior year. Defensively, Williams will be back next fall as he has two years of eligibility remaining. Leo, who made 13 of his 15 field goal attempts and 48 of his 49 PAT attempts, will also be back for his fourth and final year, so there is a lot of promise for the Golden Rams as they move forward to 2013.
Riley Wallace is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. He can be reached at RW718681@wcupa.edu.