On Saturday afternoon, the West Chester football team hosted Indiana University of Pennsylvania in a non-league game. The game was West Chester’s final game of the year, as they failed to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
West Chester won the toss and elected to defer in the second half, showing confidence in a defense that dominated Millersville last week.
It didn’t take long for the defense to fall apart. On the Hawks’ first possession, an array of play action passes continued to burn the defense for big yardage and eventually led to a touchdown for IUP.
The Rams answered right back when they ran a trick play, handing the ball off to wide receiver Tim Keyser, who threw the ball back to quarterback Sean McCartney, who found LaRonn Lee wide open downfield for a huge gain. Two plays later McCartney hooked up with Lee again for a 7-yard touchdown strike.
That is all the Rams would get for the rest of the day. The next possession for the Hawks led to a 20 yard touchdown run which put IUP back on top, and they didn’t look back after that. The Hawks completed a big 3rd down and 14, setting up a field goal, making it 17-7. The lack of the ability to make a crucial stop is something that has plagued the Rams’ defense most of the season.
Turnovers ruined any hope of a comeback.
McCartney threw his first interception of the day when he attempted a pass over the middle that was intercepted and returned all the way down to the Rams’ 6-yard line. Three plays later a pass was completed for a touchdown and the Hawks led 24-7.
The problems continued for the Rams when McCartney was intercepted again. This time the ball was on the Rams’ 42-yard line which led to a Hawks’ field goal making it 27-7 late in the second quarter. Instead of attempting to score before halftime, the Rams took a knee.
After the half, the offense was looking for a spark with Matt Carroll at quarterback. They didn’t get one though as they went three and out and were forced to punt the ball back to the Hawks.
IUP kept the ball on the ground on their first possession of the third quarter, but that didn’t stop them from driving the ball. They took the ball 81 yards for a touchdown and also killed seven minutes off the clock.
McCartney was back in at quarterback as the Rams coaching staff continues to keep you guessing as to which guy will be out there under center. Looking to answer back with a score of their own, McCartney hooked up with sophomore wide receiver Tim Keyser on a terrific 25- yard pass and catch. A facemask call on IUP and a roughing the passer call had the Rams in business on the Hawks’ 24- yard line, but the drive came to a halt when the Rams failed to convert a 4th and 1.
The fourth quarter led to much of the same. IUP kept the running game going so they could keep the clock running. The IUP players were undisciplined as they were flagged for many personal fouls (facemasks and roughing the passers) and unsportsmanlike conduct. West Chester was not able to capitalize on their mistakes as they fell 34-7, ending their season with a 5-6 record while IUP improved to 7-3.
After the game, sophomore kicker Shawn Leo reflected on the season. “Going into the season we had high expectations and goals and unfortunately we couldn’t achieve them. There were a lot of mistakes in the games we lost and we need to learn how to avoid them to be successful next year. We have a good group of guys coming back next year and we need to work hard in the off season and come out ready to win,” Leo said.
One bright spot on the day came during the halftime show. Jared Bonacquisti and Dom Dovidio were presented with certificates from West Chester’s president Dr. Greg Weisenstein for donating bone marrow last summer that could potentially save lives.
Sean Breen is a third-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at SB718728@wcupa.edu.