The West Chester University Golden Rams football team suffered a major setback in their PSAC Championship hopes this Saturday, falling to Shippensburg on the road, 27-11.
On a day where the offense could not find its stride, sophomore quarterback Pat Moriarty coughed up three interceptions, and the Rams totaled four turnovers that they could not overcome. The loss is the first for West Chester against Shippensburg since 2012.
Shippensburg (5-2) came prepared for the fast-paced offense of the Golden Rams and were able to rattle Moriarty early, forcing an interception late in the first quarter. The Red Raiders jumped out to an early first quarter lead an never looked back.
Despite a well-distributed offensive attack, West Chester did not score their first touchdown until late in the fourth quarter, which came on a Jim Hurley touchdown catch from Moriarty, his second in as many games.
Moriarty hit his first roadblock in his young career after progressing well through the first five weeks. He finished 19-38 through the air, with one touchdown pass. The key factor to the loss was the quarterback play from the opposition. Red Raiders quarterback Ryan Zapoticky was 6-13 for 94 yards and two big touchdowns of 41 and 39 yards.
On the ground, Brandon Monk produced another strong performance after his bounce-back day last week. Monk rushed 15 times for 75 yards, averaging just under five yards per carry. Jarel Elder carried the ball 12 times, but only produced 25 yards, while Eddie Elliot rushed twice for 25 yards as well.
Elliot was not only prolific in the rushing game, but in the air attack as well. Elliot caught five passes for 79 yards, which led the Golden Rams in receiving stats. Tyler Karpinski and Tim Brown both reeled in five catches a piece, totaling a combined 124 yards. In all, eight different Golden Ram receivers caught passes Saturday afternoon.
West Chester’s all-time sack leader was at it again, grabbing another sack to raise his season total to six. Andrew Cohen totaled seven tackles on the day, two for a loss, but was unfortunately one of the few bright spots in the Golden Rams defensive performance Saturday.
Pete Galliano led West Chester with eight tackles while Ralph Reeves and Kyle Keyser followed up with seven and six tackles respectively. Overall, the Golden Rams had trouble stopping the Red Raider attack, allowing a combined 214 yards on the ground. Shippensburg running back Justin Pyle nearly eclipsed the 100-yard mark, finishing with 94 yards on the day.
The loss comes at the beginning of a key-stretch in West Chester’s season. A win would have kept them close in the hunt for the top spot in the PSAC East, but the loss makes next week’s matchup with Bloomsburg even more important.
The Huskies travel to town next Saturday in an attempt to spoil the Golden Rams’ homecoming game. The gridiron rivalry between Bloomsburg and West Chester has been brewing for many years, but has certainly become more prominent in the past few seasons. Last year, the Huskies dominated West Chester 10-41, handing the Golden Rams their first loss during the 2014 season.
This year, the task gets no easier. Bloomsburg (5-2), is led by quarterback Tim Kelly, and the combined rushing attack of Lawrence Elliot Jr. and Joe Parsnik. Lawrence Elliot Jr. will be a focal point in the Golden Rams’ defensive game plan, as he has nearly reached 1,000 yards on the season through six games.
AJ Arcaini is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AA788494@wcupa.edu