West Chester, PA- In the first game under the lights since Farrell Stadium’s renovations this spring, the Golden Rams took on the Shippensburg Raiders in the third PSAC West cross-over game of the season. Following a disappointing 28-14 loss to Edinboro in the club’s home opener, the Golden Rams came out aggressively in this game on both sides of the ball in an effort to ensure such a debacle would not occur again. It was apparent quite early that neither the Golden Rams nor their fans would have anything to worry about. The Golden Rams took possession of the ball on their fourth series of the game following solid defensive stands by both teams in the first quarter. Beginning the drive at his own 14 yard line Bill Zwaan, Jr., engineered a methodical drive down the field thanks in large part to the pass blocking of his offensive line. Given the extra time in the pocket, Zwaan was able to spot Cody Clark for a 19 yard gain, which set up two runs by Osagie Osande which led to the first score of the game two plays later. Zwaan Jr. dropped back with plenty of time and spotted Eric Ruffenach 31 yards down the middle of the field for a picture perfect touchdown strike giving the Rams a 7-0 lead with 1:28 remaining in the quarter. “How about him, he had a great game for us tonight,” said Head Coach Bill Zwaan of Eric Ruffenach’s play against Shippensburg. Ruffenach would later account for 84 yards of total offense against the Raiders.
On the ensuing Shippensburg drive, quarterback Tony Gomez would begin to feel the wrath of the menacing Golden Ram defense. On third and nine from his own 26 yard line Gomez dropped back and was met by the punishing duo of Lateef Ferguson and Jimmy Lewis for the Rams’ first sack of the game. West Chester was unable to sustain any momentum offensively on their next drive and was forced to punt.
West Chester’s defense would strike again on the ensuing Shippensburg possession forcing its first of five turnovers on the evening. Walter Crump took the handoff from Gomez at his own 18 yard line and ran up the middle where he was met by Vlad Garbovsky who met the halfback head on at the line of scrimmage forcing the ball loose, and it was recovered by Tyler Downs at the 24.
It was not long before the Golden Rams extended their lead. On the second play from scrimmage Zwaan Jr. dropped back into the pocket, scanned the field looking for an open receiver and realized all were in tight coverage down field, so he tucked the ball under and scrambled for a 19 yard gain to the Shippensburg four yard line. Two plays later, Osunde plunged through the middle of the line for a two yard touchdown run and just like that the Golden Rams held a 14-0 lead over the Shippensburg Raiders.
Raiders quarterback Gabe Maiocco would be sacked by Dave Montgomery for a nine yard loss on Shippensburg’s next possession. Two plays later, Lewis made the defensive play of the evening when he intercepted a Maiocco pass at his own 33 yard line and returned it 22 yards along the sidelines to the Shippensburg 22. The Golden Rams had momentum and on the verge of breaking this game wide open.
On the very next play Matt Burdalski checked in at quarterback for his only appearance of the game, but he made sure that it would be remembered by all in attendance. Burdalski dropped back and had plenty of time to spot Dean Millard who was wide open 45 yards down the field for a quick touchdown strike with 5:08 remaining. To say Millard was open would be an understatement. There was not a Raider defender within fifteen yards of the running back, who made a nice catch and scampered into the endzone giving West Chester a 21-0 lead. “We walked into a hornet’s nest and we got stung” said Shippensburg Head Coach William Rees of the momentum the Golden Rams were able to establish early in this game.
Alex Walsh would add a 33 yard field goal to make the score 24-0 in favor of the Golden Rams, and that would be all the scoring they needed in this one, as the defense held it’s ground and shut out the Raiders 24-0.
This game re-establishes the fact that the Golden Rams are not a team to be taken lightly in the PSAC. Shippensburg entered this game with the fourth ranked defense in the PSAC and West Chester exploited matchups in the secondary, posting 203 passing yards en route to the 24-0 victory. The defense, which has been the bread and butter of this team early in the season put forth an absolutely dominant performance not only shutting out Shippensburg, but also forcing four interceptions and recovering one fumble. All systems are go for this club heading into next week’s date with the Cheney Wolves. Next weekend is homecoming and the game can be heard live on 91.7 WCUR and simulcast online at www.wcur.fm. Come out early to Farrell Stadium as WCUR will be hosting a pre-game show under the party tent in the parking lot beginning at 11:30.