Wed. Jun 12th, 2024

In the battle of undefeated teams, in their toughest game of the season thus far, the Golden Rams won over the Red Raiders with a score of 32-29.
No. 13 West Chester beat Shippensburg with a late comeback win, sealing the game with 1.1 seconds left by Shawn Leo kicking a 26-yard field goal to bring the game to a close.
Last year’s homecoming for West Chester ended with the Red Raiders beating the Golden Rams on their own home turf. This year, the Rams traveled to Shippensburg for their very own homecoming, with West Chester extracting their revenge.
West Chester is now 8-0, tying their best start to a season dating all the way back to 1974. The win over Shippensburg also hands the Red Raiders their first loss of the season.
Senior running back Rondell White delivered one of his best performances of the season, and was one of the main reasons the Rams were able to make their miraculous comeback. White rushed 29 times for 173 yards and three touchdowns. If that was not enough, White also caught eight passes for 83 yards, making critical plays in the Rams’ final drive to help bring home the win. White also had one kickoff return for 14 yards.
 “As a captain of this team, it’s my job to keep the guys up and ready every week, and to stay tight as a team, even when adversity hits us,” White said. “The group of guys we have are just great, and I think we can do something special this year.”
Shippensburg was as tough as an opponent West Chester will face all season, and they couldn’t have gotten it done on Saturday without White’s superb play. The senior running back put the team on his shoulders and delivered in all categories. On top of the Golden Rams’ victory, White also broke West Chester’s record for yards in a career on the day, with his career total now at 6,574 yards all together. White will only add to the record as the season dwindles down, as he looks to finish his impeccable career here at West Chester in dominant fashion.
Starting quarterback Sean McCartney, one of the leaders of this team, was injured against the Red Raiders, finishing the day with only two completions off of six attempts for six yards. Luckily, McCartney’s backups showed more than enough to keep West Chester in good hands in case of another McCartney absence.
Drew Loughery finished the day going 10-for-20 for 136 yards and an interception. Loughery threw the most passes on the day for the Golden Rams, but fellow backup quarterback Andrew Derr helped achieve the win for West Chester on the final drive of the game, marching down the field with his offense to help put Leo in perfect position to execute his field goal. Derr finished the day going 7-for-9 for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Without the excellent play of these two quarterbacks, West Chester couldn’t have stood a chance against Shippensburg. Even without McCartney, West Chester was able to stay alive against the formerly-undefeated Shippensburg.
Leading in receiving this week was White, but the quarterbacks were able to hit multiple targets on the day. Adam Dempsey, Eddie Elliott, Shannon Mayer, and Tim Keyser all reeled in two catches, with Dempsey catching the only touchdown pass of the day. Jared Bonaquisti, Jim Hurley and Erik Brundidge all had one catch as well.
Though this wasn’t one of the bigger games for the receiving core, West Chester’s pass-catchers still made many plays that count. In particular, Dempsey’s touchdown in the fourth quarter was not only West Chester’s final touchdown of the game, but the touchdown that tied the two teams towards the end. This group of receivers will most certainly have bigger and better days to come.
West Chester’s victory couldn’t have been achieved without the play of their defense, who came ready to play against the Red Raiders offense. The quarterback for the Red Raiders, Zack Zulli, has been dominant all season long, and played well against the Golden Rams. However, Zulli’s performance wasn’t enough to overcome the great play of West Chester’s defensive squad.
Leading in tackles for the purple and gold was linebacker Ronnell Williams, who had nine total on the day (six solo, three assisted). Fellow linebacker Mike Labor, who has been phenomenal all season long, also was solid against the Red Raiders, notching five tackles overall (three solo, two assisted).
The linebacking duo, however, were not the only playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive back Shawn Krautzel had a good outing, gathering eight tackles on Saturday (six solo, two assisted). Defensive end Eric Edwers had six tackles (four solo, two assisted), as well as a fumble recovery. Cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz had five solo tackles, two of which went for a loss of three yards total.
Making West Chester’s only interception of the game was starting safety Brandon Pepper. Pepper actually intercepted Shannon Mayer’s older brother, Sheldon Mayer, taking the pick down the field for 34 yards.
On the defensive line, Kayo Bakare and Chris DiValentino both had a sack each against Zulli and the Shippensburg offense. Bakare and DiValentino both finished the day with two tackles each, all of which were solo tackles.
As mentioned, kicked Shawn Leo had the game-winning field goal for West Chester. It wasn’t Leo’s best day on the turf, as he missed his first two attempts from 53 and 42, respectively. However, Leo’s final kick was the one that mattered most, as it now keeps West Chester’s historic season undefeated.
West Chester will next take on Cheyney University in their third-straight away game. If the Golden Rams can win against the Wolves, it will put their record at 9-0, sending them into the record books in what’s shaping up to be one of the football team’s greatest seasons of all time. Golden Rams fans, take notice: you’re watching history in the making.
Oliver Suskin-Santarelli is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at 

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