West Chester remains unblemished as they travel to Bloomsburg for a PSAC tilt on STN’s college game of the week.
Off the heels of a 28-21 victory over Shippensburg on Saturday, West Chester heads into this week’s PSAAC matchup at 5-0. The Rams used a big day from Syracuse transfer A.J. Long to pick up the win. Long threw for 356 yards and three touchdowns while adding 87 yards on the ground. The signal caller hooked up with Lex Rosario 13 times for 193 yards and a score. The Rams picked off Brycen Mussina four times, including two by Jarey Elder to seal the victory.
The Huskies, off to an uncharacteristic 2-3 start, suffered their worst loss in six years, losing to Kutztown 44-10. It was the third straight loss to Kutztown for Shippensburg as they amassed just 196 yards of total offense. In Paul Darragh’s 63 career games as the head coach, only seven times has his team been held under 100 yards rushing. The Huskies finished with 73 on the ground.
The aforementioned Long is putting up numbers worth of Harlon Hill recognition. Long has 1,250 passing yards to go with 14 scores and has been a menace to opposition with his feet, leading the team with 360 rushing yards and five more scores. Despite a slow game against Ship, Mark Dukes has been solid in the backfield for the Rams, rushing for 310 yards and four scores, good for 62 yards per game. Rasheem James in the leading receiver with 28 catches and seven touchdowns, but Rosario’s standout performance leaves him just six yards shy of James for the team lead at 370.
Tyler Morrisey is the big man in the middle for the Rams, racking up 39 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Nate Barnes has been fantastic for the Rams as well, making 42 stops, 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks while also adding a pick and a fumble recovery. As a whole, the defense has intercepted 12 passes this season, good for over two per game. With his two on Saturday, Elder now has four picks this season. Both Jaishan Thornton and Jordan Burney have two each for West Chester. Five different Rams have contributed at least 3.5 sacks this season.
For the Huskies, the offense hasn’t quite got rolling yet, averaging just 18.8 points per game this season and 303.4 yards per game. Erik Benjamin has been inconsistent under center, completing under 48 percent of his throws for 669 yards and four scores to go with five interceptions. The ground game has been strong, picking up nearly 170 yards per contest, led by Hakeem Sillman with 333 yards. Qmac Quiteh and Alex Gooden are both over 200 yards on the ground this season for Bloomsburg. Despite a net of negative 22 yards, Benjamin has scored five rushing touchdowns. Michael Allen and Jay Popson are the targets through the air, with 200 plus yards receiving each.
The Huskies have been led defensively by Nate Monroe with 43 tackles on the season. Alex Annan is the other Husky with at least 35 tackles this season and has added three tackles for loss, so far. Bloom has intercepted a respectable six passes, led by Marquis Seamon’s three. He has been very difficult to throw on, racking up seven pass breakups and ten passes defended. The Huskies are allowing 23.8 points per game and 338.2 yards per game.
Bill Zwaan’s team is off to a heck of a start and hoping to keep the undefeated season rolling through Bloomsburg. After a strong 9-4 season last year, ending with a loss to IUP in the DII playoffs, the Rams have even higher hopes in 2018. The Huskies, 7-4 a year ago, are looking to turn things around in the second half of the year and get the offense going.
Bloomsburg won the last matchup in the series, a 20-19 victory a season ago. West Chester has been dominant in the all-time series with a record of 49-27.
TIME: Saturday, October 6th, 2 p.m.
WATCH LIVE: WSWB CW 38, WHP 21.2 My Network, WFMZ 69, BLUE RIDGE CABLE NETWORK
ANNOUNCERS: Geoff Arnold (play-by-play), Mike Samsel (analyst),