The West Chester Golden Rams lost to the Shippensburg Red Raiders Saturday afternoon 24-21 in overtime, in a close, hard-fought Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference matchup. Both teams entered the game fi rst in their division and in position for a NCAA Division II playoff berth. The Golden Rams had a chance to win the game with 1:09 left in the fourth on a Cody Collins 28-yard field goal attempt. The freshman placekicker pushed it right keeping the score 21-21 and forcing an overtime. “I made a mistake by not getting the ball in the middle of the field,” said head coach Bill Zwaan. The game ended when senior quarterback Bob Findora threw an interception to Shippensburg senior cornerback Antonio Williams, a pass that was intended for junior wide receiver Brandon Simmons. “Our D-line was doing a good job the whole day. Our secondary is very good,” Williams said.
The Rams were anything but gun shy in this one. Findora tied a career high with four interceptions. “We’re not going to get conservative in overtime. That’s the way we play. It’s as simple as that,” said Zwaan. Findora went 16-for- 30 with 292 yards and three touchdowns. He also passed the 8,000 yard mark on his career. West Chester opened the game with a 52-yard pass from Findora to Brandon Simmons with 9:19 left in the fi rst quarter. Cody Collins’ extra point kick was blocked. Shippensburg then took the lead with a six-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Tony Gomez to senior tight end Brian Sekel.
In the third quarter Shippensburg broke the 14-14 tie with a 64-yard pass form Tony Gomez to Walter Crump. The Rams responded one minute later with another Simmons- Findora connection.
Simmons made a great catch, bouncing the ball off his chest to reel in the 58-yard score. Simmons led West Chester receivers with six cathes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Both teams went scoreless in the third before Shippensburg’s freshman place kicker Jamie Reder kicked a 24-yard fi eld goal in overtime, which ultimately resulted in the win for the Red Raiders. Senior linebacker Dan Walsh led Shippensburg defensively with 13 tackles. Senior defensive back Isaiah Harrison recorded eight hits for the Rams.
The loss snaps West Chester’s 11-game home winning streak and is Zwaan’s fi rst home loss in his career with the Rams. The Rams were coming off two close games against Bloomsburg and East Stroudsburg. “There’s no question the guys were mentally fatigued,” said Zwaan. West Chester the fi nishes the regular season at 8-3.
The Rams have made the NCAA Division II playoffs for the fi rst time since 1994. They will host the Pioneers of Long- Island University C.W. Post on Saturday at Farrell Stadium. A win on Saturday would set up a second round matchup with Shippensburg. The Rams lost to Ferris State the last time they were in the playoffs and are 0-4 all-time in the division II postseason. Kickoff at Farrell Stadium is scheduled for noon.