• Rock Hoffman

FOR WEST CHESTER, A WIN IS WIN AS THEY BEAT BENTLEY 14-7

BY ROCK HOFFMAN


COLLEGE FOOTBALL EDITOR


West Chester – 150 years ago when the powers that be at Rutgers and the College of New Jersey (now know as Princeton University) decided it would be a good idea to play what would be the first-ever college football game, they could only have dreamed that the weather would be as nice as it was on Saturday afternoon when West Chester and Bentley met at John A. Farrell Stadium on the West Chester campus to kickoff the 2019 campaign for both schools. Under a cloudless, blue sky with temperatures in the mid-70’s, the teams played a game that was less than perfect but it came down to the end. West Chester prevailed 14-7 after Ja’Den McKenzie raced 30 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 23 seconds left.


JA' DEN MCKENZIE SCORED THE GAME-WINNING TOUCHDOWN

“It was ugly,” said West Chester quarterback Paul Dooley after the Golden Rams overcame five turnovers to beat the Falcons for the four-straight year. Dooley, a senior from Springside-Chestnut Hill, scrambled 13 yards on a third-and-12 play to keep the final scoring drive alive.


“I was getting pressure,” said Dooley, who threw for 133 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice and ran for 30 yards. “I just wiggling my way through it. I was like, as soon as I got to the second level, I just have to make it 5 to 10 yards, I’ll reach out and hopefully I’m past that line. I got it done.”


“We survived, that’s the word for it,” said West Chester head coach Bill Zwaan emphatically, “but if you want to win championships, you’ve got to survive some bad games. We found a way to win a game we really shouldn’t have won.”


The Falcons had a touchdown called back because of a penalty, dropped another touchdown and had a pair of field goals blocked but they were able to control the game with their rushing attack. Running back Andrew Brazicki had 130 yards on the ground through three quarters and as a team they had 177 however they could never capitalize enough on the Golden Rams miscues to put the game away.


“They did a good job of not letting them get in the end zone,” Zwaan said about his defense.


Early in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 7, Dooley was intercepted in the end zone, on the ensuing drive, the Falcons moved the ball into West Chester territory but were forced to punt. Two plays later, they got the ball back when Manny Resto stripped the ball from the Golden Rams Seth Degree. Nyeem Jones picked his team up when he blocked Grant Buchanan’s 32-yard field goal try and it remained 7-7.


The Golden Rams went three-and-out but punter George Lambritsios boomed a kick that went 73 yards – which is seven yards short of the school record.


“He told me Monday after practice, ‘Coach, you know I’ve never punted in a game ever’” said a laughing Zwaan. “I said, ‘don’t worry George, you’ll be alright.’”


The Falcons got one first down then kicked the ball back to West Chester, who started at their own 40 with less than two minutes to play. They were facing third and long at their own 49 with 1:15 left, when Dooley dropped back to pass, more than once it looked like he’d be taken down but he escaped and three plays later McKenzie went around right end for the win.


Brazicki, who finished with 131 yards, scored on a 20-yard run midway through the first quarter to cap a 46-yard drive. It was the only time the Falcons took advantage of a West Chester turnover.


Tight end Dan Neuhaus caught a 25-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to put the Golden Rams on the scoreboard.


WEST CHESTER TIGHT END DAN NEUHAUS CAUGHT A TOUCHDOWN IN THE GOLDEN RAMS WIN (West Chester University photo)

“We’ve been working on that play for over two years,” said Dooley. “In the red zone, it worked just as we have it drawn up. I looked right, came back left and he was in the end zone by himself.”


Next Saturday, West Chester is at Gannon at Noon while Bentley is at American International.


Email Rock Hoffman at rock@footballstories.com

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