Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

West Chester (2-1) cruised to victory Saturday night, led by senior quarterback Matt Mattei, whose six touchdown passes tied a school record and allowed the Rams to cruise to the 56-14 thumping of Millersville.

Millersville (1-2), who was coming off a 45-7 defeat by Mercyhurst at home last weekend, did not fare any better on Family Weekend as the Golden Rams racked up 655 total yards against the Marauders in front of 5,451 fans, most of whom were wearing purple or gold at a packed John Farrell Stadium. This was the most yards West Chester had recorded in the teams’ 80-year history and the fourth most overall in school history.

While the offense showcased their superiority Saturday night, the defense stifled the Marauders all night as they were forced into five three-and-outs. Millersville had only one drive of over 10 plays and that was their last of the game, of which the outcome had been decided long before then. The Marauders, who were picked to finish seventh in the ultra-competitive PSAC East, failed to find any rhythm offensively accumulating a rather hapless 233 yards.

Saturday night, Mattei showcased the expertise of the starter he was in 2010, not the backup going into this season, as he connected over and over again with a variety of receivers. When the few times arose in which no receiver was open, he pulled it down and took what the defense gave him, piling up 38 rushing yards. For the second straight week under center, Mattei took care of the ball, failing to throw an interception, while leading the Rams to their 10th consecutive victory over Millersville.

West Chester wasted no time in taking control of the game, scoring touchdowns on three of their four possessions in the first quarter. Their first drive consisted of only a minute and a half, covering 73 yards as Mattei hooked up for his first of many touchdowns, this time with Tim Keyser on a 41-yard strike.

Later in the first quarter, Mattei led the Golden Rams on a nine-play, 90-yard drive highlighted by a 43-yard touchdown catch by Eric Brundidge with under five minutes remaining in the quarter. Following a three-and-out by the Marauders, West Chester started at Millersville’s 32-yard line following a 26-yard punt return by Brandon Monk. From there, it took only three plays as Mattei hooked up again with Brundidge, this time on a 31-yard touchdown pass with just under two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.

Millersville responded with a touchdown of their own early in the second quarter to pull the score to 21-7, but two more touchdowns by the Rams silenced any hopes of a comeback.

This time it took only one play for Mattei to showcase Millersville suspect secondary, completing a 69-yard touchdown pass to Brundidge, his third score of the game.
Following a punt by the visiting team, West Chester methodically worked their way down the field, mixing Rondell White runs with Mattei passes, capping off a ten-play, 86-yard drive with a Jim Kelly 18-yard touchdown reception, making the score 35-7 as the two teams headed into the locker rooms.

West Chester came out in the second half and remained focused even after a 97-yard kickoff return by Millersville led to a quick touchdown for the visitors. The following possession saw West Chester take four and a half minutes, going 71 yards in eight plays, concluding with a trick play in which receiver Kelly completed a 24-yard pass to Sean Beahan for the touchdown.

The Golden Rams were not going to ease up on the gas as the very next time they got the ball back, it was all about the Mattei to Kelly combination. Two consecutive times they found each other, the first for 47 yards and the second for 11, giving Mattei his sixth and final touchdown pass of the day.
The eighth and final touchdown for the Golden Rams came via special teams. Dante Devine forced a fumble by Millersville punter Jeff Lawson after an errant snap. Mike Lonergan recovered the fumble and returned it 22 yards for the score pushing the tally to 56-14 with about five-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third quarter. And that is how it would end as neither team could capitalize on red-zone opportunities in the fourth.

Mattei put together four complete quarters on Saturday, accumulating stats that included fewer incompletions than touchdown passes. He went an efficient 16 for 20 for 358 yards and, of course, the six touchdowns. While the workload was shared among the running backs, especially once the game was out of reach, White did get most of the carries. While he did not manage to find his way into the end zone, he did manage 131 yards on 24 carries for an average of 5.5 yards per carry.

Six different receivers made a reception Saturday night, but three really stood out for the Golden Rams. Track star Brundidge had a career day as he caught five passes for 156 yards and three scores. Kelly caught four balls for 95 yards and two touchdowns, while Beahan had five grabs for 88 yards and a score.

On defense, the Rams used a collective effort and a ball-hawking mentality to shut down Millersville’s offense. Ten different players contributed to the two sacks made by the defense Saturday night. Sophomore linebackers Mike Culbreath and Ronell Williams led the way piling up nine and seven tackles respectively. Williams also had a pass break up, and junior defensive back Shawn Krautzel came up with the lone interception to go along with his six tackles.

Next up for the Golden Rams is a trip to PSAC East contender Kutztown (1-2) for a 1 p.m. showdown. This will be a great test for the Golden Rams if they are to compete at the top of the PSAC East this season, as Kutztown was the preseason favorite to win the PSAC East.
Riley Wallace is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. He can be reached at RW718681@wcupa.edu.

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