There’s generally a handful of “keys to the game” that apply to every opponent, but they get magnified when the opponent is of high quality – get off to a good start, limit turnovers, take advantage of opportunities, minimize penalties, control the clock. Take care of those areas and there’s a good chance that it will be a ball game near the final whistle. Otherwise, the game might be out of hand before the fourth quarter. So how did the Golden Rams stack up those five areas?
Well it took only until the opening kickoff return for Shawn Driggins to get his first 15-yard, unsportsmanlike penalty of the season. Then on the second snap from scrimmage, sophomore QB Pat Moriarty threw an interception. West Chester’s third and fourth possessions also ended on turnovers, another interception and a fumble by Brandon Monk. Trailing 21-0, the Golden Rams had a first and goal at the ten by virtue of a Lenoir-Rhyne pass interference penalty. When the drive stalled at the six, Ben Solis’ chip shot field goal hooked wide right. Off to a good start? How about the first five possessions totaled 52 yards and ended in three turnovers and two punts.
On the drive that ended in a missed field goal, Moriarty looked like a veteran as he sprayed completions to Adam Dempsey, Tyler Karpinski, Jim Hurley, and Eddie Elliott. Moriarty and Shannon Mayer struggled to connect most of the evening. Some faulted the quarterback while others blamed the receiver, when, truth be told, it was probably a combination of the two. They did finally connect late in the first half on a 15-yard touchdown in the back corner of the end zone for the first West Chester points of the season.
With Lenoir-Rhyne leading 21-7 and 20 seconds left in the first half, lightning could be seen in the distance. However, officials let the Bears run two plays to end the period. The teams went to their locker rooms, fans went to their cars and the band went under the stands where everyone, except the television broadcast, would wait out lightning and heavy rain for almost two hours.
The third quarter was much of the same. A three-and-out and an interception for the West Chester offense and three touchdown runs for Lenoir-Rhyne quarterback Evin Sims. Sims finished the night with 161 yards rushing on 14 carries to go along with a six-yard completion on two pass attempts. Overall, the Bears ran 55 times for 442 yards, an 8.0 yard average per carry. They busted seven runs for 20+ including Calvin Edwards’ 72-yard touchdown run.
Despite the game being out of reach at 41-7, the Golden Ram first team offense stayed on the field for some much needed work. And it paid off. Monk and Jarel Elder each picked up first down runs before Eerin Young made a nice diving catch of a Moriarty 20-yard pass. After a 16-yard completion to Hurley, Moriarty capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to A.J. DePietro for his first collegiate reception.
On West Chester’s next possession, Moriarty completed a 39-yard dart to Elliott, scrambled for 30 yards, and completed a 19-yard pass to Dempsey before Monk scooted into the end zone from four yards out. Trailing 41-20, West Chester inserted Alec Werner on their last possession with two and a half minutes left. Werner quickly completed a 10-yard pass to Young, and a 20-yarder to Hurley. Werner then scrambled and although he didn’t gain any yards, he did manage to get out of bounds and stop the clock. A catchable pass to Hurley fell incomplete setting up third and ten. Werner recognized he was going to take a big hit, but found DePietro in one-on-one coverage and completed the 45-yard touchdown catch and run.
The defense was led by Ralph Reeves (10 total tackles), Andrew Cohen (7 total tackles) and Kevin Duggan (6 total tackles). Lenoir-Rhyne attempted four pass plays: one was completed for six yards, one was broken up by Kevin Malone and the Reeves and Cohen registered sacks on the other two.
Notes – Although the total yards in the game was fairly even (Lenoir-Rhyne had a 448-442 edge), West Chester gained 237 yards on their final three possessions after the Bears had the game in control….The Golden Rams had four turnovers, the Bears none…With Vince Lostracco not dressed due to a knee injury, left tackle Doug Gilbert moved to left guard, tackle Michael Unger moved from the right side to the left side, and Evyn Stadulis played right tackle. That is, until Stadulis’ body rejected his efforts to hydrate which forced him to sit out a couple of series...On his first collegiate play, true freshman Zack Hockman made a solo tackle for no gain.
West Chester Athletic Site - No. 22 West Chester Falls To No. 9 Lenoir-Rhyne, 41-28
Delco Daily Times - WCU routed by Lenoir-Rhyne in opener
Hickory Record - Weather delay doesn't impact Bears much in opener
Hickory Record - Quarterback Sims steps up in second half of first game
Lenoir-Rhyne Athletic Site - Lenoir-Rhyne Football Opens 2015 Season With Huge Road Win, 41-28 Over West Chester