West Chester looks to stay perfect Saturday against Shippensburg

Matt Leon
September 27, 2018 - 5:03 pm
West Chester University sophomore linebacker Nate Barnes

West Chester University

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WEST CHESTER, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Division II West Chester University football team will look to stay hot on Saturday when the Golden Rams host Shippensburg in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference showdown.

The Golden Rams improved to 4-0 this past Saturday with a 42-16 dismantling of Millersville in their PSAC opener. This game was similar to the first three in that West Chester jumped on a team that they were better than and never let them up for air. The Golden Rams have outscored their four opponents this season, 176-43.

"We came out in the first quarter and played really, really well" with a 28-0 led, said West Chester head coach Bill Zwaan of the Millersville game. "We hit a lull for a little bit there in the second quarter and then got it back in the third quarter. Basically, in general, and in particular against Millersville, we've been doing exactly what we need to do. Get up on them, put points on the board, put them in a tough position and then finish the game off."

West Chester's defense was in top form against the Marauders. That unit held Millersville to 211 total yards — just 17 of which were on the ground. 

The Golden Rams also tied a program record with 10 quarterback sacks. For the season, West Chester is allowing just 10.8 points and 45.5 rushing yards a game. They have returned an interception for a touchdown in each of the last two games and they have eight picks and 22 sacks overall on the season. Zwaan said the entire unit is playing its part in this success.

"We have probably six or seven (defensive linemen) up front that we are rotating in," he said, "so each one of those guys is getting involved. Then our two linebackers, (redshirt senior) Tyler Morrissey and (sophomore) Nate Barnes, have really done a great job of blitzing the quarterback. They are two really effective blitzers. Some linebackers aren't, but these guys are and they are getting to the quarterback also. We are using a lot of guys to get to the quarterback for sure. Then in the secondary, we're a little bit older, we've got a few seniors back there and they have a good feel now for what we're trying to do."

Shippensburg has lost its last two games after a 2-0 start. Last weekend, they fell on the road at Bloomsburg, 28-24. 

"We're going to see a pretty physical defensive team," Zwaan added. "Offensively, they're going to throw the ball a bunch and try and mix the run in, but they are a little bit different than they have been in the past. They're not throwing the ball down the field quite as much, a little bit more of a shorter passing game. But they still run a complicated offense. You've got to stay on top of them, they do a lot of different things."

Last year, West Chester beat the Red Raiders twice, once during the regular season and once in the playoffs.

Saturday's game will get underway at noon at John A. Farrell Stadium.

You can follow Matt Leon on Twitter @Mattleon1060.