By Cory Nidoh
The East Stroudsburg University football team continues to play well on the gridiron this season after earning their fifth straight win in a 35-13 road win against Millersville University last Saturday.
With the victory, ESU head coach Denny Douds became the twentieth NCAA coach and third Division II coach to notch 250 career wins in his storied career.
It wasn’t easy for the Warriors at first. The winless Marauders stuck around in the first half heading into halftime with just a 14-13 deficit.
Then, redshirt junior quarterback Matt Soltes and the Warriors’ explosive offense came to life in the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points while the defense held their ground for the win.
Soltes finished with 354 yards through the air and found redshirt junior wide receiver Jon Schnaars for three of the five passing touchdowns the quarterback had.
Schnaars, who is developing into one of the best receivers in the conference, racked up 108 yards on eight catches and posted his third 100-yard receiving game of the season.
In the running game, redshirt tailback Robert Healy continued to prove how versatile he is.
The East Meadow, New York native had a career day totaling 232 yards from scrimmage by grinding out 117 yards on 26 carries along with hauling in seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, redshirt senior defensive lineman Bryan Thomson made his presence felt in the game.
Not only did he record four tackles, the 6-foot-1, 290-pound lineman has a knack for blocking kicks, adding two more to his ledger in the win.
Thomson blocked an extra point on Millersville’s second touchdown in the first half and blocked a 46-yard field goal giving him six blocks on the season and 16 in his career, extending his own school record.
The Warriors haven’t lost since their home opener against Slippery Rock 56-24 back on September 13, and have one of the highest scoring offenses in the conference.
Saturday, they will be able to show their old faithful, along with alumni, how exciting of a team they are on Homecoming as the Kutztown Golden Bears come to town in a PSAC East divisional matchup.
A sea of red and black will flow on to campus Saturday, and Eiler-Martin Stadium will be the stage for what should be a high-scoring affair.
The Warriors are second in the conference scoring 40 points per game, while the Golden Bears are sixth, averaging 36 points per game.
Both quarterbacks are in the top ten in passing yards per game.
Soltes is pacing the conference by averaging 359 yards through the air, and Kutztown’s Chad Barton averages 223 yards, good for ninth.
In the last four seasons, the Warriors are 2-2 in homecoming games. ESU posted back-to-back wins last year with a 52-28 win over Slippery Rock and a stunning 35-28 win in 2012 against West Chester.
In the win over West Chester, Soltes orchestrated a gamewinning drive which culminated with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Tim Wilson with five seconds left in the game.
Overall, ESU holds the advantage in the head-to-head matchup over Kutztown with a 44-17-1 record since their first meeting back in 1941.
That inaugural game ended in a Warriors’ 26-0 win. That started an 18-game stretch where the Warriors won 17 games with the help of a five-game winning streak before a tie in 1957, followed by a 12-game winning streak from 1958-69.
ESU faced Kutztown on homecoming in 2010 when the Warriors comeback attempt fell short.
ESU’s quarterback Matt Marshall went 15-for-21 for 185 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to try and rally from the deficit but fell short, 38-31.
The Warriors are currently second in the PSAC East with an overall record of 6-1 and 5-1 in conference play.
They still are looking up to their rivals in West Chester and Bloomsburg, who are both undefeated at 7-0.
With a win, the Warriors can keep pace with the two teams atop the conference, and set up pivotal matchups heading into the next two weeks, playing Bloomsburg and West Chester in back-to-back weeks to finish out the regular season.
Saturday’s Homecoming Weekend contest kicks off at 3:05 PM from Eiler-Martin Stadium and will be televised on Blue Ridge TV-13. The game is also available on the radio on ESPN Poconos 840 AM.
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