By Ronald Hanaki
Down by as many as 24 points in the first half, ESU’s football team mounted a tremendous second half comeback before falling to the West Chester Rams 41-27 at John A. Farrell Stadium in West Chester last Saturday.
Just like in the previous game against Bloomsburg, the Warriors found themselves down early to the PSAC East-leading Rams.
The second half of the game would play out like a Greek drama, with ESU redshirt senior wide receiver Jon Schnaars assuming the role of the Greek hero manqué Achilles. Schnaars did all he could do in helping the Warriors outscore the Rams 20-10 in the second half.
With West Chester leading 34-14 late in the third quarter, the Warriors reached deep inside their bag of tricks. On first-and-ten from ESU’s own 34-yard line, ESU redshirt senior quarterback Matt Soltes threw a pass to Schnaars behind the line of scrimmage. Schnaars then fired a bullet that hit ESU senior wide receiver Joe Welk, who streaked down the field for a 66-yard touchdown score.
It was the first career touchdown pass for Schnaars and made the score 34-20 West Chester with five minutes to go in the third quarter.
Schnaars donned the Superman cape once again. The Man of Steel caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Soltes with less than seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter. West Chester’s lead was now 34-27, but that was as close as the Warriors got.
The Rams would answer ESU’s latest touchdown with an eight-play, 77-yard drive that took four minutes and seventeen seconds off the clock to make the score 41-27.
It was a two-possession game once again with little more than two minutes left in the game. Thus, ESU needed to score two touchdowns quickly to force overtime.
On the ensuing possession, Soltes threw a pass that was caught by Schnaars. Schnaars tried to set up the hook-and-ladder to Welk, but he was hit by West Chester redshirt freshman defensive back Mike Catalano. Instead of a lateral, the ball bounced meekly in front of Welk and was recovered by West Chester.
With two minutes to go in the game and ESU down by fourteen points, the turnover effectively iced the game for the Rams, ending any aspiration the Warriors had for a share of the PSAC East crown.
In total, Schnaars caught 10 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. Agent 005 now holds the university’s single-season school record for pass receptions, with 98 catches on the season.
West Chester’s victory gave the Rams the right to play in the PSAC Championship Game against Slippery Rock on Saturday.
The Warriors (5-5, 4-3) will end their regular season by hosting Gannon at Eiler-Martin Stadium on Senior Day, Nov. 14.
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