West Chester University Football (8-3, 6-1 PSAC) closed out their 2016 campaign with a 37-10 rout of the hosting Clarion University Golden Eagles (4-7, 3-4) on Saturday afternoon, ending their season on a six-game win streak.
Mike Class marked Memorial Stadium as his territory, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts. Class averaged close to a first down per-carry, with a 7.9-yard average on each scamper.
Jarel Elder was also a significant contributor in the ground-game, racking up 83 yards on 21 attempts. As a team, WCU rushed for 237 yards and two touchdowns, marking the fifth consecutive game in which the Golden Rams accrued at least 170 yards on the ground, with the best performance coming in the form of a 386-yard rushing outburst against the Bloomsburg Huskies on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Elder also hit the 1,000-yard ledger in the victory, ending his year with 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns.
West Chester’s emphasis on running the ball made it an easy day for quarterback Andrew Derr, who threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns on 17 attempts. Derr’s 31-yard scoring strike to Jordan Banks midway through the first quarter kicked things off for WCU, and they never looked back after that, scoring 17 unanswered points before Phil Esposito drilled a 35-yard field goal for the Golden Eagles early in the third quarter.
Derr would go on to connect with Banks again, this time on a 35-yard touchdown pass, and Derr would score a rushing TD as well. Banks’ eight touchdown snags on the season tie him with Tyler Karpinski for a team-high.
West Chester’s offense was afforded ample opportunities to create separation in this game thanks to WCU’s defense stymieing the Golden Eagles’ offensive attack.
The Golden Rams’ defense forced Clarion into five turnovers and limited them to 72 yards rushing. Clarion did eclipse West Chester in total passing yards (275-188), but they also threw four interceptions, one of which was returned 85 yards by Kevin Malone in the final game of his WCU career.
Nydair Rouse grabbed his fourth pick of the season, and added a forced fumble and fumble recovery as well.
Pete Galiano and Jarey Elder also pilfered passes from Clarion QB Connor Simmons, who was 18-39 on the day.
Ch’aim Smith added a sack, further bolstering the defensive portfolio of WCU in the contest.
The Golden Rams held the advantage in most statistical categories, including first downs (22-17), total yards (425-348) and time of possession (39:19-20:41). West Chester was accustomed to dominating most teams metrically, especially on offense where they touted one of the strongest offenses in the conference.
West Chester finished the PSAC fourth in total rush yards (2192), fifth in total pass yards (3093), second in total yards (5285) and third in average yards per game (480.5).
West Chester’s six consecutive victories to end the season came against PSAC opponents, sending a strong message to the rest of the conference about the future of Golden Rams football.
WCU boasts a fairly young team, and the next couple of seasons should prove to be prosperous if player development goes as expected.
We’d like to show recognition to Jim Hurley, Shannon Mayer, Kyle Keyser, Ted Patton, Blaise Schieler, Ryan Boyd, Ralph Reeves, Doug Gilbert, Matt Sharp, Galiano and Malone for their contributions to West Chester football, and we thank them for their hard work and effort during their stints as Golden Rams. We wish them the best in their future endeavors, academically and athletically.
Will “B.J.” Boyer is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at WB806695@wcupa.edu.