The West Chester University Golden Rams entered their tilt on Saturday with their cross-town rivals the Cheyney University Wolves having won 29 straight contests in the series. Unlike most of the games over the last three decades, this one turned into an offensive explosion by both teams as the Golden Rams (3-4, 3-1 PSAC East) held on to their slim hopes of winning the PSAC East with an exhilarating 48-34 victory over the Wolves (1-6, 1-3 PSAC East).West Chester scored 28 second-half points after trailing by one going into halftime to win the game, which was a lot closer than fans could have anticipated given the recent history between the two teams.
“Who are we to come out flat?” head coach Bill Zwaan said. “We had two wins coming into the game and I tried to explain that to the kids all week. We’re not a good enough team to take anyone lightly. I feel like we lack some focus and you can see it at times.”
“The PSAC is a tough league,” redshirt freshman wide receiver Tim Keyser said. “It seems like a shootout every week, but every week you have to come ready to play.”
Cheyney ran the ball 52 times for 282 yards, 211 by running back Marcus Jones, as they more than doubled the Golden Rams 129 yards rushing on the evening.
“They know what they are doing with that offense,” Zwaan said. “And certainly they put a big scare in us today.”
West Chester received great field position on their first drive of the game after freshman running back Rondell White took the opening kickoff 32 yards to midfield. On the first play from scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Mike Mattei hit White for 44 yards to get within the Wolves 10-yard line. Two plays later, junior running back Jackson Fagan scored his first touchdown of the evening from five yards out to open the scoring.
Cheyney, who has performed much better this year unlike the previous couple of years, answered right back. Wide receiver John Newman gave the Wolves great field position with a 73-yard kickoff return to the Golden Rams 16-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Chris Anderson found wide receiver Prince Stewart for a 13-yard touchdown pass to even the score.
West Chester wasted little time in answering the Cheyney score. Mattei found Keyser for 52 yards before Fagan scored his second touchdown of the game with a one-yard score to make it 13-7 Golden Rams.
On their ensuing drive, the Wolves put together one of the longest drives of the season against the West Chester defense. Of the 11 plays, Cheyney ran the ball 10 times. Jones rushed for 37 yards and Anderson ran for 20 yards: including a one-yard touchdown score to give the Wolves a 14-13 lead.
On the Golden Rams next drive, the mistake prone offense turned the ball over once again. Following a 15-yard pass completion to senior wide receiver Dan DePalma, White gained 16 yards out of the wildcat formation before fumbling which was recovered by free safety Stan Banks for Cheyney.
The Wolves orchestrated another long drive to increase their lead. This time, Cheyney ran the ball all 10 times led by Jones 36 yards. Running back Julius Faison capped off the drive with a one-yard plunge to give the Wolves a 21-13 lead.
West Chester came back and answered the Cheyney score. Mattei connected with Keyser for 28 yards to get within Wolves territory. Mattei found White five plays later for 19 yards on fourth-and-13 to extend the drive. Three plays later, junior fullback Brian McDermott scored on an 11-yard screen pass to cut the Cheyney lead to 21-20.
In the second half, the Golden Rams made the Wolves pay for their mistakes. Jones fumbled the ball on the fourth play of the opening drive of the half and senior strong safety Cedric Jeffries recovered the fumble for West Chester.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean McCartney, who made his first career start in the double overtime victory against Shippensburg last week, relieved an injured Mattei four plays into their first second half possession. McCartney completed his first pass to Keyser for 16 yards before senior running back D’Andre Webb scored from one-yard out to give the Golden Rams a 27-21 lead.
“[Sean] did a really good job for us when we needed him again tonight,” Zwaan said.
Jones fumbled once again for Cheyney as senior defensive end Travis Ford-Bey forced the running back to lose handle of the ball and Jeffries recovered his second fumble of the game. McCartney completed a 21-yard pass to DePalma before the two hooked up again two plays later for a 14-yard score to make it 34-21.
The Wolves answered back on their next possession. On a third-and-three, Anderson completed a quick pass to Stewart, who then scampered 67 yards for his second touchdown of the game to make it 34-28.
The back-and-forth scoring continued into the fourth quarter. McCartney connected with freshman wide receiver LaRonn Lee for 33 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. Two plays later, Webb scored his second touchdown of the evening from seven yards out to make it 41-28.
Cheyney answered back once again. Jones took a handoff up the middle and dashed 66 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the drive to make it 41-34.
After forcing a West Chester punt, the Wolves made another mistake. Banks muffed the punt and senior fullback Adam Young recovered the fumble at the Cheyney five-yard line. Two plays into the drive, Fagan scored his third rushing touchdown of the game to make it 48-34.
Mattei finished 9-15 for 205 yards with one touchdown and one interception. McCartney finished 6-11 for 91 yards and a touchdown. Keyser led the Golden Rams with 109 yards receiving. White finished with 217 all-purpose yards. West Chester had 425 yards of total offense, while the Wolves had 387 yards on the evening.
“I think I’m getting more comfortable with the offense,” Keyser said. “I’ve been in the offense for two years now. Everything is starting to come together; I really am starting to understand the concepts and schemes.”
This week, West Chester travels to their PSAC East rival, the Bloomsburg University Huskies for a 3:30 p.m. matchup on Saturday.
“We’re playing a really good team this week and we have to clean up all the mistakes,” Zwaan said.
LJ Harrell is a graduate student majoring in communications studies. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.