On Saturday, the West Chester Golden Rams faced off against the Bloomsberg Huskies for WCU’s homecoming game. The Rams came into the game with an overall record of 4-3 (3-1 in the PSAC east), while the Huskies had an overall record of 7-0 (5-0 in the PSAC east).
The Huskies are ranked No. 2 nationally in division II football and the Rams were in a must win situation to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The crowd was roaring with excitement that filled John A. Farrell stadium on a dry and chilly afternoon. The Rams received the ball first in what ended up a lopsided first quarter.
Quarterback Matt Carroll got the start for the Golden Rams and early on in the game, he stood in the pocket with confidence and poise. This led to touchdowns on five of their first six possessions, the first two Golden Rams touchdowns being one yard plunges by fullback, Brian McDermott.
About halfway through the first quarter, the Golden Rams led the No. 2 team in the nation 14-0, and there was a lot of electricity running through the stadium. It only got crazier in the stands when safety Shawn Krautzel intercepted a pass on the near sideline because of a great read of the BU quarterback. That turnover led to another Golden Rams touchdown when running back Rondell White took it in from one yard out, giving West Chester lead over Bloomsburg 21-0 after one quarter of play.
The defense was dominating in the first quarter, giving Bloomsburg just two first downs and putting their offense in a position to score points. During the Rams’ first drive in the second quarter, Eric Brundidge had two big catches that set up a designed quarterback draw. Matt Carroll crossed into the end zone for another Golden Rams touchdown, which put West Chester up 28-0.
On the very next Huskies possession, West Chester’s outside linebacker Eric Edwers had a sack on a third down play to force the Huskies to punt the ball once again back to the Rams.
Matt Carroll, still strong in the pocket, completed a 39 yard pass to senior tight end, Alex Tosi. This set up a 16-yard touchdown run by White (his second touchdown of the day). The Rams were up 35-0 in the second quarter, but that is when the meltdown started.
Bloomsburg had scored their first touchdown on an 11 yard run, set up by a screen pass that was taken deep into Rams territory. Big plays were something that plagued the West Chester defense for the remainder of the game, as everything seemed to begin to go wrong for the Rams.
After putting up 35 unanswered points, the WCU offense seemed to be shut down by the Huskies for the rest of the game. On the next Bloomsburg possession, a big pass was completed along with a personal foul penalty on the Rams which led to a six yard touchdown run by Bloomsburg runningback Eddie Mateo. The offense seemed to stall after putting up 35 unanswered points, which was answered right back by Bloomsburg, who put up 21 unanswered points going into halftime.
The Huskies received the ball first in the second half and didn’t waste much time scoring a touchdown as the Rams struggled to stop the power running attack. All of a sudden, the Rams were only up by a touchdown, and the once electric crowd at John A. Farrell stadium was in a state of awe.
On the Rams’ first possession of the second half, quarterback Matt Carroll threw an interception, which gave the ball back to the Huskies in Rams’ territory. They went on to score on a fake field goal, tying the game at 35-35.
The problems only continued for the Rams as Carroll threw his second interception of the day. This time the defense returned it for a touchdown, putting the Huskies in the lead for the first time 42-35. Carroll seemed to be shaken, and was having some accuracy problems during the third quarter.
The woes continued for the Rams like a contagious disease, as fourth-year punter Chris Hill fumbled the long snap and was tackled, turning the ball over on the Rams own 30 yard line. The turnover led to another Huskies touchdown.
Quarterback Matt Carroll was benched towards the end of the third quarter, and taking his place was sophomore Sean McCartney. McCartney looked good for the Rams, but it was too late. The Rams did add a touchdown by Tim Keyser later, but the Rams meltdown was complete as they fell to the No. 2 Bloomsburg, 55-42.
After the game, middle linebacker Anthony McCloskey gave some insight into what happened after the first quarter. “In the beginning we were squeezing our gaps. When they started scoring we started getting in different levels which created seams and then they just started gagging us. They had the screen pass, the shuffle pass, and the stop-n-go, which hurt us on a couple pass plays. We played great in the first quarter, but we knew they were going to get theirs. That’s why they are the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, but we didn’t expect it to be like that,” McCloskey said.
Next weekend, the Golden Rams play host to Kutztown in another PSAC east matchup.
Sean Breen is a third-year student majoring in English writing. He can be reached at SB718728@wcupa.edu.