Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

Bloomsburg, PA- This game represented the Golden Rams’ opportunity to grasp control of their own playoff destiny. Bloomsburg’s homecoming celebration served as the backdrop for this Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East rivalry game played under overcast skies at Redman Stadium. Had West Chester emerged victorious, a playoff spot would have been virtually guaranteed. Now it will take a lot of help. Bloomsburg’s opening drive set the tone for the remainder of the afternoon. As expected, Jamar Brittingham carried the ball early and often. Brittingham carried the ball on each of the Husky’s first four plays from scrimmage and amassed 30 yards rushing. Just when it seemed the Golden Rams were about to get off the field, on third and 26 Dan Lattore fired a pass to Brahin Bilal along the sidelines that was intercepted by Anthony Gallop. However, Gallop would be called for a controversial pass interference penalty, as it appeared to be offensive interference against Bilal. Eight plays later Jon Koenig converted a 39 yard field goal to give Bloomsburg a 3-0 lead with 7:37 remaining in the first quarter.

The Golden Rams would go three and out on the ensuing possession, giving the defense little time to recover from a 17 play Bloomsburg scoring drive. Three plays later, Latorre spotted Bilal streaking over the middle of the field for a 57 yard touchdown. Rashad Grimsley slipped, giving Bilal a 20 yard cushion. West Chester would get on the board with an Alex Walsh field goal with 12:28 remaining in the first half.

The much vaunted Golden Ram defense has had one Achilles heal this season, and that is the inability to get off the field on third down. On Bloomsburg’s next drive the Husky’s would convert three third down conversions en route to a Lattore touchdown run on a play action quarterback draw. Bloomsburg led 17-3 at halftime. For the game, The Golden Rams would surrender seven third down conversions on twelve opportunities to end Husky drives, it is nearly impossible to beat a time of Bloomsburg’s caliber under such circumstances. “We play good defense at times and we let things up that we should never let up, and it’s just very frustrating” said Head Coach Bill Zwaan.

Not only was the offense completely inept in the first half, but the defense simply could not get off the field. The Golden Rams could only muster 83 yards of total offense and the Husky’s dominated the time of possession, controlling the ball for 18:34.

West Chester opened the second half quickly thanks to Osagie Osunde’s 59 yard run to the Bloomsburg five However, the offense would sputter at the goal line and the Golden Rams were forced to settle for a 31 yard Alex Walsh field goal cutting the Husky lead to 17-6.

The Rams seemed to have momentum.

One play later, Latorre connected with Ryan Schuck who left Anthony Belasco in his dust for a 70 yard touchdown pass along the sidelines.

With Mike Washington fighting double teams and a virtual nonfactor for the first half, the Golden Rams looked to Cody Clark to pick up the slack. Clark converted on West Chester’s first fourth down of the second half when Coach Zwaan elected to go for it on fourth and one, and hauled in an eight yard reception along the sidelines. Four plays later, Zwaan JR spotted Washington in the back of the endzone for a 13 yard touchdown. Eric Ruffenach hauled in a Zwaan pass to complete the two point conversion and the Golden Rams were once again within 10.

Both teams would trade possessions until Brittingham finally found pay dirt for his first touchdown of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter. Two drives later, the Golden Rams offense awoke as Zwaan J.R. completed five of ten passes including a 21 yard strike to Clark for a touchdown with 5:59 remaining in the game cutting the Bloomsburg lead to ten, at 30-20.

Inexplicably, Coach Zwaan elected to kick the ball away with 5:59 remaining in the game. “I thought they would go with the onsides with the way we were moving the ball” said Bloomsburg head coach Danny Hale. The defense held, but not before Bloomsburg used up 3:34 of precious game. The Husky’s downed a 40 yard Kyle Ream punt at the West Chester One yard line. All hope appeared to be gone.

Then, Zwaan J.R. orchestrated a five play, 99 yard drive inside the two minute warning. The drive was punctuated with a 48 yard touchdown pass to Mike Washington with 1:23 remaining in the game. “We knew from [our big drive] last year that we could do it, being down two touchdowns with 99 yards and no timeouts, it was a challenge, but we look forward to challenges like that” said Zwaan J.R. of West Chester’s final offensive possession.

West Chester failed to recover the onside kick with 1:19 remaining in the game, and that was all she wrote. Bloomsburg held on for a crucial 30-27 victory. “It was just such a bummer of a game” said linebacker Jimmy Lewis.

While this game all but dashes this club’s division championship hopes, the window of opportunity to make the playoffs remains cracked open. But at this point it takes an advanced degree in sabermatrics to decipher the scenarios and a lot of help from teams not residing wearing Purple and Gold.

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