West Chester University football (4-1, 2-0 PSAC) managed to avenge last season’s narrow defeat to Kutztown University (3-2, 1-1 PSAC) thanks to a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Paul Dooley to wide receiver Marcus Syndor with 49 seconds left in the game.
WCU is now the top dog in the PSAC East Division standings and they also snapped the Golden Bears’ 11-game conference winning streak, which dated all the way back to 2015.
A 46-yard kickoff return from running back Jarel Elder set the stage for Syndor’s late-game heroics and Kutztown spotted West Chester an additional 15 yards thanks to a personal foul call. WCU took over at the Golden Bears’ 32-yard line and the rest was history.
Dooley, who returned to action after missing last week’s win over Lock Haven University thanks to a tender ankle, picked up right where he left off prior to the injury. He went 16-33 for 318 yards and three touchdowns on the afternoon, including an 85-yard touchdown strike to Rasheem James in the third quarter.
James led the Golden Rams’ receiving corps on the afternoon, finishing the victory with six catches for 142 yards and one touchdown. Snydor caught four balls for 68 yards and the all-important game-winning touchdown, while Tyler Karpinski finished with three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
WCU’s ground game wasn’t overly effective in the win, as the Golden Rams only amassed 56 yards amongst six rushers on a total of 31 attempts. Elder led the brigade as he ran for 50 yards on 16 attempts.
Kutztown’s potential game-winning drive was cut short thanks to defensive back Anthony Brown, who dove to intercept a wayward pass from Golden Bears quarterback Colin DiGalbo with 21 seconds remaining.
Kutztown threatened to mount a major comeback on West Chester, as they rallied from 15 points down. WCU was up 21-6 late in the third quarter, but the Golden Bears managed to make things more interesting than they would’ve liked.
Prior to WCU’s game-winning drive, Kutztown drove 32 yards on seven plays to cut their deficit to two and a successful two-point conversion knotted things up at 21 apiece. West Chester was able to issue an appropriate response, one that came in the form of a touchdown.
WCU had a strong showing on the defensive side of the ball, with multiple parties making big contributions. West Chester tallied four sacks on the afternoon, with George Shipp (one sack, six yards), Nydair Rouse (one sack, six yards), Kevin Duggan (one sack, three yards) and Diquan Gilbert (one sack, two yards) all infiltrating the pocket and bringing down the quarterback.
Shipp also had a game-high eight stops, which included two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
West Chester will now venture to Shippensburg University (5-0, 2-0) for a conference showdown, as the Golden Rams will look to give the Red Raiders their first loss of the season in addition to continuing their three game win streak. This matchup will be key in determining who claims the PSAC East.
WCU will return home on Oct. 14 to take on Bloomsburg University (4-1, 2-0).
West Chester earned easy wins over both the Red Raiders and Huskies last season and hope to use the same formula this time around to keep their win streak intact and remain atop the PSAC East.
B.J. Boyer is a third-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at WB806695@wcupa.edu.