On Saturday, a week after putting together their best performance of the season in all phases of the game, the West Chester University Golden Rams (4-7, 4-3 PSAC East) could not overcome the Indiana University (Pa.) Crimson Hawks (6-5, 3-4 PSAC West) in a 27-10 setback in both teams 2010 season finale.The Golden Rams’ offense entered the game averaging more than 373 yards per game, but the IUP defense held West Chester to 174 yards. The Crimson Hawks offense put up 336 yards of total offense, 307 of which came on the ground.
“Just an awful offensive performance,” a dismayed head coach Bill Zwaan said. “I’m really disappointed and frustrated that that’s the way we performed offensively. We should be so much better but we didn’t do a good enough job. The defensive played tough early, and then they just got warn down.”
After the Golden Rams’ defense forced a punt on IUP’s first possession, the offense was forced to start at their five-yard line following a block in the back penalty. On the first play, sophomore quarterback Mike Mattei threw a pass down the left side of the field looking for freshman wide receiver Rondell White, but was intercepted by Crimson Hawks’ safety Johnny Franco.
The West Chester defense held their ground, forcing IUP to kick a field goal. Craig Burgess made a 32-yard field goal, his first of two in the quarter.
On their next offensive possession, the turnover bug hit the Golden Rams once again. On the third play of the drive, Mattei was intercepted for the second time in the first quarter, this time by defensive back Chris Brown for the Crimson Hawks.
The West Chester defense once again held their ground and kept the Golden Rams in the game, forcing Burgess to make another 32-yard field goal to make it 6-0. The Golden Rams’ defense was on the field for 11 and a half minutes of the first quarter.
At the end of the first quarter and into the second quarter, West Chester put together their best drive of the game thus far. On the fourth play of the drive, senior running back D’Andre Webb ran to the right side, got held up and bounced it to the left for a 23-yard gain, the longest play of the game for the Golden Rams.
On the next play Mattei completed an 18-yard pass to senior wide receiver Dan DePalma to end the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Mattei hooked up with DePalma once again, this time for 12 yards. Redshirt freshman kicker Shawn Leo ended the 11-play, 64 yard drive with 24-yard field goal to get West Chester on the board.
The IUP offense finally put the first touchdown on the board on their next offensive possession. On the nine-play, 60-yard drive the Crimson Hawks ran the ball nine times. Running back Harvie Tuck rushed for 57 yards on the drive, including a 37-yard run on one of the three third down conversions. On third-and-goal from the one-yard line, wide receiver Pat Brewer took the snap out of the wildcat formation and ran into the end zone to make it 13-3 IUP.
The Golden Rams had a chance to cut into the Crimson Hawks lead before half time, but Mattei was sacked and stripped by linebacker Mike Gee. Defensive tackle Carl Thornton recovered the fumble for IUP, but no further damage was done as the score stayed at 13-3 at halftime.
In the second half, the West Chester offense finally showed signs of life. With redshirt freshman Sean McCartney leading the offense, the Golden Rams embarked on a 14-play, 71-yard drive in 7:43 ending when Webb scored from one-yard out to make it 13-10. The Golden Rams took a page out of the IUP playbook as they ran the ball 10 times on the drive. Junior running back Jackson Fagan rushed nine times for 34 yards on the drive.
In the fourth quarter, the Crimson Hawks received great field position after wide receiver Javon Rowan returned a punt 32 yards and a personal foul facemask penalty was called on West Chester. Wide receiver Roy-al Edwards rushed for 11 yards on a reverse. Running back Teddy Blakeman rushed for 16 yards, and fullback Darryl Herod ended the drive with a three-yard rushing touchdown to increase the IUP lead to 20-10.
With just under three minutes remaining in the game, the Crimson Hawks put the final touches on their victory over the Golden Rams. After a turnover on downs by the West Chester offense, Blakeman broke through the Golden Rams’ defense for a 21-yard rushing touchdown to make it 27-10.
Webb finished with fifty yards rushing and one touchdown on the game. Mattei finished 2-7 for 30 yards and two interceptions, while McCartney finished 4-14 for 54 yards. DePalma led all receivers with four receptions for 53 yards. Senior strong safety Cedric Jeffries finished with a game-high 11 tackles, while redshirt freshman linebacker Anthony McCloskey finished with 10 tackles.
Tuck (132 yards) and Blakeman (118 yards) finished with over 100 yards on the ground for IUP. Franco (one sack) and defensive end Errol Brewster (two sacks) recorded sacks for the Crimson Hawks.
“Defense just got warn down,” Zwaan said. “They were on the field the entire game. It was a terrible offensive day and it put the defense in a bind.”
In his final season as a Golden Ram, DePalma finished his final season with 50 receptions for 962 yards and nine touchdowns. Webb finished with 544 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.
“It was a great privilege playing with those guys,” senior defensive-end Travis Ford-Bey said about his classmates. “I’m glad I got to know them and being friends and teammates with them. They’ve done an extremely great job in the program.”
“I feel privileged,” Webb said about playing at West Chester. “I am happy I came here. I was out there to give it my best every time. Chances are very, very slim that anyone is going to tackle me or catch me. Big ups to the offensive line for all the touchdowns I did score.”
Jeffries finished with a team-high 61 tackles and two recovered fumbles. Ford-Bey finished with a team-high four sacks.
“Great kids,” Zwaan said about his seniors. “Horrible last year. Horrible ending to it. I feel bad for them. They deserve better.”
“I loved it here,” a teary-eyed Ford-Bey said. “I loved playing with the guys. It was a real disappointing year. I’m really going to miss it.”
A four-win season is not what is to be expected at West Chester. You can expect for the coaches to look at themselves and the players as they prepare to get back into contention heading into the 2011 season.
“Defensively, I thought a couple guys played well,” Zwaan said about some of the players returning next year. “Our quarterback situation is up in the air right now. And there are a lot of questions that have to be answered. Honestly, we have to take the off-season to figure this out. 4-7 doesn’t fly here at West Chester. And the way we played today I am not happy.”
LJ Harrell is a graduate student majoring in communications studies. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.