West Chester Golden Rams spoil Lock Haven’s Homecoming
By BILL ALBRIGHT
WesternPAFootball.net/EasternPAFootball.com Senior Writer
LOCK HAVEN — After three tough losses on the road to open the season, the Lock Haven University football team returned home to the friendly confines of Hubert Jack Stadium for its Homecoming 2017 battle with the West Chester Rams, hoping for better results.
Unfortunately for Lock Haven, West Chester had other ideas as the nationally-ranked Rams took advantage of LHU mistakes to down the Bald Eagles to the tune of 35-14 in a PSAC-East battle.
“Our field goal and extra point teams scored two points on the day and gave up seven and that is not a good thing,” said LHU head coach Dave Taynor. “We simply need to get better on special teams. We had a fumble on a kickoff return that led to a short field and a touchdown, we had two penalties on special teams during the game that hurt us and we had a field goal attempt blocked. Those are the things we must do a better job of preparing for that not to happen. You can’t compete against Team 4 (West Chester) which is the team that is picked to win our conference when you make mistakes on special teams. If its and buts were candy and nuts we would all have a Merry Christmas, but it is a big if. If we could have eliminated those mistakes, this would have been a different game and we should have been up at halftime.”
For any coach, the situation facing Taynor and his staff is having to play in a tough conference with a bunch of young kids. History would tell you that situation is not going to produce many victories.
“The truth is that we are playing a bunch of young guys who are very inexperienced,” said Taynor. “Our quarterback is a long snapper making the transition due to a sprained ankle. But the bottom line is that we just have to start playing better football if we are going to win some games.”
Two of the LHU mistakes that really hurt the most were a blocked field goal attempt that was returned for a touchdown before the Eagles coughed up the ball deep in their own territory on a kickoff return that ultimately resulted in another score.
“Those three mistakes were the biggest part of our day,” Taynor said. “Special teams killed us, we didn’t get off the field on third downs defensively and we didn’t finish drives with points. If you make those field goals or finish the drives with touchdowns it would have made a big difference. Walking off the field the field with 14 points when the bare minimum should have been high twenties or mid thirties hurts.”
Highlighting the day on the local scene were the contributions by two former Williamsport Millionaires in Elliot Walker and Jalen Jackson. Walker caught a pair of balls for 47 yards, while Jackson was on the receiving end of a pair of aerials that covered 40 yards.
“Coach called a play that had everybody open,” said Walker about coming up with his diving reception. “The QB looked my way, I snapped to the post, it was a little bit overthrown so I had to gear up one more gear. I knew I just had to lay out if I was going to catch it.”
A possible redshirt through the first three games, that all ended when Taynor called Walker’s number and sent him on the field.
“Coach (Taynor) told me that he wanted to keep my redshirt in order as long as possible,” said Walker. “He came to me and said he wanted all of the wide receivers to play so I knew it was my time to step up. I knew what I had to do and I was able to do it.”
Whereas Walker was biding his time, Jackson had been on the depth chart from square one, either as a receiver or a member of the special teams.
“I saw a couple of things the defense was giving me on my routes to allow me to get open, but as a freshman, I just wanted to come out here and make an impact whether it would be a small play or a big play,” said Jackson. “I was happy that I was able to make a couple of plays today and hopefully I can build off them.”
Making the jump from high school to the college level of play is not always an easy thing to do. However, in Jackson’s case, he is working hard each and every day to improve his skills.
“I think I made tremendous strides from (pre-season) camp to now,” said Jackson. “I can feel myself getting better and better each week and I am picking up more and more from the upperclassmen and that is helping me out. Today didn’t go our way, but we were just a couple of plays from being right there. Right now I just want to do what I can to help us be 1-0 each week.”
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