WEST GOSHEN >> Winning was important – as always.
But something else very big happened on Saturday at Farrell Stadium. The West Chester football team went out of their way, showed a few flashes on offense and took to hitting as they visited East Stroudsburg 42-24 in PSAC East action.
âWhen we got to 42 (points) I remember thinking ‘this is us’,â said head coach Bill Zwaan. “This is what I expected.”
With Shepherd (WV) ranked 15th in the division next weekend, it was a crucial boost to the collective Golden Rams psyche, on many levels. Redshirt rookie Shane Dooley was back in the lineup after missing a sprained ankle last week that apparently ended the quarterback carousel – and offense looked a lot better.
âAll it takes is one game to make a difference,â Dooley said. “I hope it’s that game.”
West Chester improves to 3-1 (5-2 overall). The Warriors fall to 2-2, 4-3.
âWe had to come back from Shippensburg (34-18 loss last weekend),â Zwaan said. âOnce we started rolling a bit you could see the sidelines light up. It sounded like the way we have played in the past.
âWe needed it when we walked into Shepherd. “
There were still a bunch of penalties (10 for 75 yards) on WCU, but none were catastrophic. And a few blown blankets handed ESU two late TDs. But the most impactful news came from the quarterback, where Dooley provided a threat with his arms and legs, WCU’s running game improved a lot.
â(Dooley) becomes more comfortable, and when that happens I feel more comfortable with the play call,â said offensive coordinator Bill Zwaan, Jr.
Runners Ja’Den McKenzie and Phil Poquie ran for 135 and 113, respectively, and found the end zone three times. And Dooley contributed with 181 in the air and 31 more on the ground, and had three TDs in total.
“Dooley made some big plays for us, we did good things in the special teams and we blocked really well,” said Zwaan. “And, of course, our running backs are special.”
Despite a glaring pitching error, Dooley appeared to start a fire under an attack that struggled mightily for much of the season. He was 12 for 20 and also injured ESU with his legs.
A prime example came early in the third quarter when Dooley was pinned in the pocket but somehow escaped and went 22 yards in the fourth and long. He set up the second of two rushing touchdowns for Phil Poquie.
âIt could have been one of the biggest games in the game,â Zwaan said. “Dooley really did everything to make it happen.”
On the next possession, Dooley hit senior wide receiver Rasheem James for a 50-yard strike to make it 42-10.
“We needed this game here,” said linebacker Jackson Taylor, who finished with 12 tackles. “It was like a playoff game for us – we just locked in and played disciplined.”
In the last nine minutes, East Stroudsburg took advantage of two covering errors and scored on passes from 64 and 85 yards. But WCU still had a 507-361 advantage in all-out attacking.
âThose long passes tear you apart because it should have been a walk,â Zwaan said. “It’s disappointing for everyone because it takes a bit away from what I think is a very good win.”
The big plays set up back-to-back touchdowns in the second quarter for the Rams, including a 72-yard run by McKenzie and a terrific 23-yard side pass from Dooley to James who converted a fourth and long.
West Chester also converted a pair of special team games to an extra 14 points in the first half. A low ESU punt was picked up by West Chester’s Trael Seegars to give the Rams a short field early in the first quarter, and moments later Dooley hit Seth Degree for his fourth TD catch of the season. And later, Elijah Beard picked up a poorly played Warriors kickoff return, to set up an 11-yard TD led by McKenzie.
There were also, however, a few offensive mishaps early in the game. Another short punt gave WCU possession inside ESU 30, but seven plays gave up less than six yards and led to a punt. And then Dooley finished the half with a misguided throw into the end zone that was pushed back.
âYeah, interception was a bad game,â Zwaan assists. âBut if he learns from that, then he will continue to improve. And he’s getting better. “
The Warriors scored a brisk march and added a 50-yard basket helped by the wind to bring the score to 28-10 at halftime.