Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

West Chester, PA- Under rainy skies the Golden Rams welcomed the Edinboro Fighting Scots to Farrell Stadium in the opening game of the 2006 season on Saturday September 2. This game also marked the first game played on Farrell’s state of the art artificial surface. The Golden Rams were poised to show the nation that they belonged in the pre-season national top 25 poll, but Edinboro had other ideas. The Fighting Scots committed to running the football early in this game. Aided by a strong play from senior All-American center Chris Kaczor, both Spud Davis and Chaz Cobbs were able to pierce the middle of the Golden Rams defense early in the first quarter. The Golden Rams forced a Davis fumble which was recovered by Joe Cefalo at the Edinboro 48 yard line, but the Golden Rams could not capitalize, going three and out which would become a trend in the game.

On their ensuing drive the Fighting Scots continued their ground assault, handing off to Cobbs six times. The Golden Ram defense had no answer as the sophomore tailback rushed for 24 of Edinboro’s 71 yards on this drive. The Fighting Scots managed a field goal, but the result could have been much worse for the Golden Rams had senior linebacker Lateef Ferguson not come up with a bone rattling hit on Cobbs forcing an incompletion at the West Chester 11 yard line. The Golden Ram defense surrendered 71 yards on the drive, but came up huge in the red zone.

The Golden Rams next possession began with plenty of sizzle as Mike Washington made a highlight reel leaping catch along the sidelines for a sixteen yard gain. In the end the drive would fizzle, and West Chester would be forced to punt after an incomplete pass intended for James Ethridge stalled the drive at the Edinboro 33 yard line.

The two teams traded possessions until the Golden Rams finally got on the board with twenty six seconds remaining in the first half. West Chester took over possession at their own 38 yard line and engineered a very balanced four play drive that covered sixty two yards. Osagie Osande began to assert himself with 3:05 left in the half when he broke loose for a seven yard gain to the West Chester 45, followed on the very next play with an eleven yard burst up the middle of the Edinboro defense. Once the Golden Rams drew the Edinboro secondary closer to the line to anticipate the rush, Burdalski then took to the air, completing an eight yard pass to Eric Ruffenach to the Edinboro 36 yard line. Then, on the very next play Burdalski spotted Washington in single coverage at the five yard line, Washington hauled in the pass, juked the defender and high stepped into the endzone giving the Golden Rams a 7-3 lead with 1:50 left in the half.

The score would remain that way until the second half began, and with it the demise of the Golden Rams in this one.

Brent Steinmetz received the opening kickoff of the second half and returned it to the West Chester 35 yard line before fumbling the ball away to Edinboro’s Syl Hanner at the 38. The Golden Ram’s defense would force the Fighting Scots to punt, but it wouldn’t be long until West Chester gave the ball back again. Following a one yard gain by Osande, Matt Burdalski attempted to hand the ball off to the red shirt senior running back, and they lost control on the exchange. Edinboro’s Taureen Valentine recovered the loose ball at the West Chester 17 yard line.

The Fighting Scotts called two running plays before standout freshman quarterback Trevor Harris stepped up in the pocket, broke two tackles and found Ryan Valasek over the middle for a fifteen yard touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked, and Edinboro took a 9-7 lead with 10:51 remaining in the third quarter.

West Chester’s turnover woes would continue on the very next drive as Brandon Hargrose fumbled the kickoff and Edinboro recovered at the West Chester 38 yard line. In all, the Rams fell victim to four fumbles to open the second half. Although the defense held the Scots out of the endzone for the most part, they simply could not get off the field for an extended period of time due to the offense turning the ball over on three of its first four possessions of the second half.

“That [was] the turning point I mean there’s no question about it,” said Head Coach Bill Zwaan. Washington added, “We’re supposed to start the second half with the ball, and we opened up with three straight fumbles and that killed our momentum.” The Golden Rams cannot afford to continue to make these types of mistakes if they indeed hope to fight for the PSAC East championship.

Edinboro would add two more offensive touchdowns before Bill Zwaan J.R. spotted Washington in the endzone, who made an athletic diving grab to make the score 22-14 in favor of the Fighting Scots with 5:52 remaining in the game. Edinboro would add a meaningless touchdown with Houston Brown intercepted a Zwaan JR pass and returned it 40 yards for the score.

Even teams as experienced and deep as the Golden Rams appear to be this season, cannot win turning the ball over five times (four fumbles lost and one interception). Not only did the club suffer three fumbles on their first four possessions of the second half, but the defense surrendered nine third or fourth down conversions in the game. On the bright side, Washington had another stellar opening day, hauling in nine receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns. It simply wasn’t enough, as the Golden Rams fell to the Fighting Scots 28-14.

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