West Chester University (3-1, 1-0 PSAC,) opened conference play against Lock Haven University (0-4, 0-1 PSAC) without starting quarterback Paul Dooley, who was relegated to the sideline thanks to a tender ankle.
Despite Dooley’s absence the Golden Rams still managed to pull out a convincing 35-14 victory over the Bald Eagles behind a monstrous day from backup quarterback A.J. Long, who alone amassed 379 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in his first start of the season.
Long went 12-26, throwing for 198 yards and two touchdowns and he ran for 181 more yards and an additional two scores against a Lock Haven team that has failed to secure a victory yet this season.
After a four-and-out on their first possession of the game, the Golden Rams found themselves trying to prevent the Bald Eagles from slipping into the end zone as Lock Haven marched down to WCU’s 31-yard line.
Lock Haven was forced to kick a field goal on 4th-and-15, but the attempt was blocked by Nydair Rouse, picked up by defensive back Shaquille James and returned 64 yards to put WCU on the board for the first time in the contest.
WCU capped off a 74-yard drive with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Long to James, and then the Golden Rams boosted their lead to 21-0 via a 44-yard touchdown pass from Long to Nehaus as halftime approached.
Lock Haven only managed to put up seven points in the first half and didn’t score again until the fourth quarter, when the game was well out of reach.
Rasheem James (two receptions, 50 yards,) Tyler Karpinski (three receptions, 35 yards,) and Dan Neuhas (two receptions, 50 yards, two touchdowns) were Long’s primary targets on the afternoon, with a host of other Golden Rams snagging a pass or two.
On the ground Long showed Lock Haven no mercy, as he averaged 12.1 yards per carry on his 15 rushing attempts. Long’s lengthiest run of the afternoon came on a 40-yard scamper towards the end of the third quarter.
Offensively, Long found his efforts aided by running back Jarel Elder, who finished the afternoon with 55 yards on 15 rushing attempts. Mike Class also racked up 32 rushing yards on 11 attempts.
Defensively Tyler Morrissey went nuts for the Golden Rams, racking up 16 tackles, including two for a loss. Other key defensive contributions came from Diquan Gilbert (one sack, seven yards) Shane Griffin (one sack, five yards) and Geoff Philippe (one sack, two yards).
Lock Haven’s offense was pedestrian at best in the loss, and the Golden Rams’ defense deserves full credit. They were unable to get comfortable, with WCU’s defense understanding they needed to up their play with Dooley sidelined.
Almost all of the team metrics slanted in West Chester’s direction, including: first downs (23-20), total yards (473-388) and time of possession (36:20-23:40).
West Chester will look to continue winning in the PSAC as they’re set to square off against Kutztown University (3-1, 1-0 PSAC) at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
WCU will look to avenge last year’s tough 14-20 defeat to Kutztown, so be sure to come out and support your Golden Rams as they attempt to remain undefeated in conference play.
B.J. Boyer is a third-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at WB806695@wcupa.edu.