Story and photo courtesy of Bloomsburg Athletics
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. – The Bloomsburg University football team forced three West Chester turnovers in the fourth quarter to lift the 13th-ranked Huskies to a 24-23 victory over the Golden Rams Saturday afternoon in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division matchup on Senior Day at Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium.
The Huskies (9-1 overall, 6-1 PSAC East) forced two fumbles and stopped the Golden Rams (6-4, 4-3) on a fourth-down to seal a scoreless fourth quarter and raise BU's playoff hopes with a week remaining in the regular season.
After junior punter Dan Fisher (Liverpool/Central Dauphin) pinned West Chester inside its own 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter, the Golden Rams used the legs of Rondell White to march down to the Bloomsburg 15-yard line down 24-23 with under six minutes to play. On a 2nd-and-8 run by White, BU senior safety Dan Haverstock (York/West York) forced White to fumble as Jeremiah Lowery (Sharon Hill/Academy Park) jumped on the ball to end the Golden Ram threat.
With West Chester driving again after a BU three-and-out, senior linebacker Jarrett Pidgeon (Barnegat, NJ/Southern Regional), this week's PSAC East Athlete of the Week, dove in front of a Mike Mattei fourth-down pass attempt as defensive end Tony David (Allentown/Salisbury) was closing in on the West Chester quarterback. It was one of two pass breakups on the day for Pidgeon, who finished with seven tackles.
Fisher again pinned West Chester inside its 10-yard line after the Golden Ram returner chose to field the punt instead of potentially letting the kick bounce into the end zone for a touchback. With under a minute to play, Mattei completed a pass to Adam Dempsey, who was hit hard by BU sophomore linebacker Justin Shirk (Harrisburg/Central Dauphin) that caused a fumble in West Chester territory that was jumped on by Pidgeon to end the game.
Shirk finished with a career-high 14 tackles including eight solo stops and two for a loss.
With the win, Bloomsburg head coach Danny Hale earned his 212th career victory, tying him for second in PSAC history with Millersville's Dr. Gene Carpenter.
The Golden Rams brought the game to 24-22 with 2:31 to play in the third quarter off a 41-yard rush by White, the longest allowed of the season for the BU defense. A Bloomsburg penalty after the play could have moved the ball half-the-distance to the goal-line for a chance at a potential game-tying two-point conversion, but the Golden Rams decided to have the penalty assessed on the kickoff and kicked the extra-point.
Up 17-13 coming out of the locker room at halftime, the BU defense forced the first West Chester punt of the day after both teams produced points on every possession of the first half. It used the defensive stand to extend its lead to 24-13 off a Tim Kelly (Camp Hill/Cedar Cliff) 28-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Dickerson (Harleysville/Souderton). Kelly also connected with junior receiver Glenn Hutton Jr. (Sicklerville, NJ/Paul VI) on the drive for 25 yards to help set up the BU score.
The touchdown catch was Dickerson's only grab of the day, but marked the sixth straight game the senior has brought in a touchdown pass.
Kelly finished the day 7-for-10 passing for 84 yards and a score.
West Chester brought the game to within one with 10 unanswered points in the third quarter. A drive before the long White touchdown run, West Chester kicker Shawn Leo connected on one of three field goals on the afternoon, this one from 30 yards out.
Bloomsburg scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the game to take an early 14-3 lead after the first quarter. Redshirt-freshman running back Dai'Shon Munger (Westampton, NJ/Holy Cross) took his only carry of the game 30 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game.
Leo hit a 35-yard field goal the following drive, but the Huskies responded with another seven-point possession. On 4th-and-2 at the West Chester 31-yard line, junior running back Franklyn Quiteh (Tobyhanna/Pocono Mountain West) rushed 31 yards up the middle for his 18th rushing touchdown of the season.
The touchdown and extra-point gave BU 14 points, setting a school-record 34 consecutive games of scoring 14 or more despite its lowest offensive scoring output of the season.
Quiteh entered the game as the leading rusher in Division II and ran for 121 yards on 25 carries on Saturday. He was joined by fellow junior back Eddie Mateo (Bethlehem/Freedom), who ran for 75 yards on 18 carries. All three running backs broke off runs of 20 yards or more in the victory.
Fisher kicked a 33-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to move his way up a pair of PSAC career kicking leaderboards. It marked his 46th career field goal, moving him into sole possession of fourth place in PSAC history. His six points Saturday raised his career total to 260, passing BU's Jon Koenig for fifth in PSAC history in career kicking points.
White rushed for a career-high 211 yards in the setback. He also brought in a game-high 94 receiving yards on nine catches for 305 all-purpose yards. The last 200-yard rusher against BU was Gerald Thompson of Edinboro in 1998, running for 243.
Saturday marked the final regular season home game for 17 BU seniors. Since the beginning of the 2009 season, they have combined for 36 wins including the 2010 PSAC Eastern Division title. Among them are Brandon Allen (Philadelphia/Frankford), Chris Boyer (Hummelstown/Hershey), Sean Clift (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic), Mark Daniels (Sinking Spring/Wilson West Lawn), Dickerson, Samuel Eck (Jersey Shore/Jersey Shore), Ryan Feldman (Mechanicsburg/JP McCaskey), Kyle Fisher (Denver/Cocalico), Haverstock, Ryan Maggs (Beech Creek/Central Mountain), Dylan Manni (Bensalem/Bensalem), Matt Marchioni (Wilmington, DE/Brandywine), Shaun Moore (Lansdale/North Penn), Terrell Oglesby (Philadelphia/Northeast Catholic), Pidgeon, Mike Schlauch (Zion Grove/Bloomsburg), and Larry Webster (Hagerstown, MD/Elkton).
Bloomsburg moves on to play Slippery Rock (6-4, 5-2) on the road on Saturday, Nov. 10 with kickoff set for 1 p.m. West Chester will play Clarion (4-6, 2-5) on Nov. 10.