West Chester Pulls Away from LHU in Second Half
By BILL ALBRIGHT
Eastern PAFootball.com Senior Writer
LOCK HAVEN — After playing four solid quarters of football in a frustrating loss to East Stroudsburg one week ago, it appeared that the trend carried over as Lock Haven University was deadlocked with West Chester at 9-all at halftime of Saturday’s PSAC-East matchup at Hubert Jack Stadium.
But then it happened.
Just as good as things were going for the Bald Eagles during the first 30 minutes, the second half turned into an episode of Murphy’s Law as the Golden Rams took advantage of many penalties and mistakes by LHU to score 24 unanswered points en route to a 33-9 West Chester victory.
“We have to do a better job of understanding that there are going to be ups and downs in a football game,” said LHU head coach Dave Taynor. “For six quarters including last week’s game and the first half of this game, we played like a team that understood that if something bad happens, you have to respond to it. In the second half of today’s game, when something bad happened, we looked like we did in the first few weeks. We need to get ourselves in a position where that changes.”
So what approach do the Bald Eagles have to use to put the effects of the melt down behind them?
“It felt like we were fighting a lot of battles of the mental block in the second half when we faced some of the things we had problems with in the first few games seemed to resurface,” said Taynor. “It is a learning opportunity for our guys to respond to this week so we can come back in at 3’oclock and focus on Shippensburg. We went through six quarters of high level football play by a group that is a little thin in some positions, including our receivers position where we had three of our top five not in the game. Facing that situation, we just couldn’t seem to get any momentum going or into any kind of rhythm. There are some things in the second half that we have to learn from and there were some good things in the first half that we can learn from also. The key is that we just have to learn.”
Although the Bald Eagles played sub-par football, Taynor was quick to give credit to West Chester.
“I have to give West Chester a lot of credit,” Taynor said. “They are a program that has been a perennial playoff team for the past few years. It seems as though they are always fighting for a conference championship and we showed for a half that we can play that caliber of football. The final score is not indicative of the control we exhibited in the game. The only points they put on the board in the first half was by returning a kick for a touchdown before they took advantage of a short field to kick a field goal. Those two things led to it being 9-9 at the half and up to that point we played phenomenal football against a very, very good football team.”
As for the 24-point offensive explosion in the second half, West Chester head coach Bill Zwann felt it was a matter of his team making adjustments.
“We just decided to run the ball a little more in the second half and we had to make a couple of changes to our blocking scheme to make that work,” explained Zwann. “Pat (quarterback Moriarty) was struggling a little bit in the first half with his reads and when the weather got a little better in the second half, he felt more comfortable throwing the ball. We were struggling to find the right way to play and thankfully our defense throughout the game played really well. They got us some turnovers in the second half and they led the way for us.”
The two teams had the scoreboard bulbs popping at the outset as they traded scores for a 6-6 deadlock less than three minutes into the game.
LHU scored first when quarterback Caleb Walton found Del’Vaughn Dennis behind the West Chester secondary for a 40-yard TD connection at the 13:03 mark.
The LHU lead was short-lived, however, as Brandon Monk hauled in the ensuing kickoff on his own 4-yard line, and 96 yards later, crossed the goal line for a KOR touchdown.
Following the sprint to paydirt by Monk, the LHU offense made it two scores on two possessions as they marched to a first-and-goal inside the West Chester 10. From there, the drive bogged down and Alex Boumerhi drilled a 20-yard field goal for a 9-6 LHU lead.
For most of the remainder of the first half, the game turned into a comedy of errors as neither team was able to take advantage of numerous mistakes by their opponent.
With time running down in the first half, West Chester was driving, but a fumble was recovered on the LHU 10 by Carmelo Cruz. Later in the half, West Chester strong safety Drew Formica picked Walton’s pocket. The Formica “pick” gave the Golden Rams an opportunity to tie the game 9-all at halftime on a 32-yard field goal by Brandon Paulison with the clock showing 0:00 and with the ugly second half on the horizon for LHU, the rest was history.
With the win, the Golden Rams move to 3-2 overall, 2-0 in the PSAC-East, while the loss leaves the Bald Eagles looking for that elusive first win over the season at 0-5 overall, 0-2 in conference play.
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