Bloomsburg loses to West Chester
BLOOMSBURG - In what was a record-setting statistical season that produced just the second Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference football championship for Bloomsburg University, the numbers betrayed the Huskies in their NCAA Division II second-round playoff game Saturday at Redman Stadium against Eastern Division rival West Chester.
As was the case when the Huskies won three weeks ago at West Chester to clinch the division title, they had more than 500 yards of total offense. Unlike that first game, however, when they played error-free offense by not turning the ball over, this time they lost four fumbles and had a late-game interception in a 40-38 season-ending loss.
West Chester (12-1), which has won three straight since its 31-28 loss to the Huskies for the most victories in school history, advances to this week's quarterfinal at Shepherd (11-0), a 7-0 winner over Winston-Salem. It is the second straight year the Huskies (10-2) have ended their season in the second round to a PSAC East rival, losing last year at Shippensburg.
Although the Huskies never led, they did come back for a 17-17 tie when PSAC all-time rushing leader Franklyn Quiteh ran for second-quarter touchdowns of 24 yards and one yard. With 10 seconds left in the half, however, the second of four field goals by Shawn Leo gave the Rams the lead for good at 20-17.
Quiteh finished with 208 yards on 26 carries, making him the first back in Division II history to have three seasons of 2,000 yards rushing. His 2,195 yards this season gives him 7,523 for his career, ranking No. 2 in Division II history behind the 7,962 compiled from 2004-07 at Chadron State by current San Diego Charger Danny Woodhead.
"We never got down and we always believed we could make a comeback and win," Quiteh said. "It's not the way we wanted the season to end, but no one will ever be able to take away what we did this year by winning the PSAC championship.
"What I'll remember most is where we came from to where we are now, and how special it was playing with (Chris) Steck and all those guys. When I first got here, I thought my job was going to be blocking punts."
Steck, a senior center from Mount Carmel Area, never missed a start in four years, finishing his career by extending his school record of 48 consecutive starts. He is the only player who was on the field for all of Quiteh's yards and PSAC records of 87 rushing touchdown, 91 total touchdowns and 548 points.
"We tried to do some things to surround him (Quiteh) and slow him down in the second half," West Chester coach Bill Zwaan said. "Of course, that's what everybody has been trying to do and he still finishes with 7,500 yards."
In addition to taking advantage of the Bloomsburg turnovers, the biggest factor for the Rams was getting senior running back Rondell White, who is No. 2 to Quiteh in total offense, more involved. He had 27 carries for 113 yards -- becoming the first back in two years to rush for 100 yards against the Huskies - and five receptions for 43 yards.
West Chester won the battle of field position with excellent play by its special teams and the returns of Brandon Monk, who had three kickoff returns for 88 yards and two punt returns for 41 yards. Each of the kickoff returns set up touchdown drives for the Rams.
"We struggled with our kicking game, and they hurt us with their returns," Bloomsburg coach Paul Darragh said. "Unlike the first time we played them, they made big plays on third down to stay on the field, and in a game like this between these two teams, it comes down to making plays.
"In the first game, we didn't give them the ball, so between the turnovers and not making some plays, that's the difference. Still, we believed that we would be able to come back, but time just ran out."
Bloomsburg did put itself in position for a miracle comeback when quarterback Tim Kelly completed a six-yard touchdown pass to Tony Peregrin with 1:39 left to cap a 10-play, 81-yard drive, but the Rams recovered the ensuing onside kickoff. Earlier in the quarter, Kelly, who completed 19 of 31 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns, completed a 72-yard touchdown pass to Connor Glads to make the score 37-31 with 10:13 left.
West Chester took momentum early after being stopped on downs by taking possession of a muffed punt at the Husky 40. Seven plays later, Sean McCartney passed to LaRonn Lee for a 17-yard touchdown that set the tone of what was to come.
McCartney completed 24 of 39 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns, including two to tight end Tim Brown, who was limited to two receptions for 35 yards in the first meeting of the teams. Brown had five receptions for 112 yards, catching a 25-yard touchdown pass for a 14-3 lead in the first quarter and a 16-yard touchdown pass for a 34-17 lead in the third quarter.
Bloomsburg did come up with three interceptions that prevented the Rams from putting the game out of reach. In the second quarter, D.J. Robinson had an interception at his 30 with the Rams leading 17-3; in the third quarter Jonathan Patrick had an interception at 2 with the Rams leading 27-17; and Donovan Morris intercepted a halfback-option pass at the 8 with the Rams leading 34-17.
"We had a great year and accomplished our goal of winning the PSAC," Quiteh said. "Still, none of us wanted it to end today."