The No.12-ranked West Chester University Golden Rams stampeded ESU Football 53-24 at Eiler-Martin Stadium last Saturday.
West Chester is ranked among the best in the country in defensive categories including rushing defense and third down efficiency.
That means West Chester’s defense does not give up many yards on the ground, and the Golden Rams don’t allow opposing offenses to convert many third downs.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, redshirt sophomore quarterback Ben Moser was injured and could not play.
Associate Head Coach Jimmy Terwilliger said, “He’s going to be day-to-day. He took a heck of a shot at Bloom.”
“But right now, you look at him [Moser] spiritually and mentally as a leader, he can make an impact without his arm,” stated Terwilliger.
So redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Cirillo started and played the entire game for the Warriors.
Despite having one of the top rushers in all of Division II in redshirt senior tailback Jaymar Anderson, the Warriors came out throwing the ball on their first possession. But the Warriors were only able to run six plays before they had to punt the ball.
The Warriors went back to the running game with Anderson, but he was not effective. Anderson finished with three carries for five yards and left the game with an injury in the second quarter.
But through all the adversity, ESU was only down by one touchdown after the first quarter.
Then things quickly snowballed for the Warriors in the second quarter.
The Warriors gave up four touchdowns on the ground before they kicked a field goal.
The score was 34-3 at halftime.
After the two teams traded possessions in the second half, the Golden Rams scored again when redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Piperno threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore tight end Cody Boozel.
The extra point attempt was blocked, but West Chester now had a commanding 40-3 lead over ESU.
But ESU’s offense showed some signs of life in the second half.
On the ensuing possession, Cirillo’s 36-yard scramble set up a 12-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior wide receiver R.J. Sarajian.
That made the score 40-10.
The Warriors would score two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
ESU senior cornerback Billy Inge III intercepted a West Chester pass and returned it for a touchdown.
Later, Cirillo threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jylil Reeder.
Cirillo said, “We saw it in film. They just went straight man, and we looked for our mismatch and went after it.”
The final score was 53-24. But despite the outcome, there were a few bright spots for ESU.
The important takeaway for the Warriors was that they scored three touchdowns on a nationally-ranked defense that only gave up 13 points (about two touchdowns) per game.
This game was Cirillo’s third start, and he looked comfortable out there on the field.
Terwilliger said, “Cirillo is a tough kid, and he played well.”
Cirillo said, “The coaches showed us everything that we went over in practice.”
“We just left too many plays out on the field,” stated Cirillo. “We got to execute better.”
Inge had a big game with two forced fumbles and two interceptions. One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown.
Terwilliger said, “Billy is a great player. He is a tremendous leader, and he is a true pleasure to coach.”
“If you look at the way he [Inge] practices and prepares and plays, it’s something that our younger guys can take note of,” said Terwilliger.
Inge was named PSAC East Defensive Athlete of the Week.
But an undefeated and nationally-ranked West Chester team was going to be a tough matchup for ESU.
Head Coach Denny Douds said, “We played a fine West Chester team. They are nationally-ranked, and they are not nationally-ranked because they just look nice.”
But as the season has progressed, injuries have mounted for ESU.
“We are chewed up a little bit. And being chewed up, you got to put this guy here and that guy there, and this guy hasn’t played in that situation yet,” Douds said.
“All of a sudden, it’s a different game when you are on the field here than when you are in practice,” stated Douds. “But we have to learn to adjust to that and gain that experience.”
Terwilliger said, “When you hit tough times like we have this season, you have to be able to be humble enough and hard enough and hungry to really finish this season on a great note.”
Douds said, “You improve by going back to work and going over that stuff that you thought you knew to make sure you really know.”
“I can not just recite it, but I can execute it when the walls are falling and the roof is collapsing to be able to do that,” stated Douds.
“Our kids will fight you,” Douds said, “We just got to be able to be more efficient in what we are doing.”
“Hey, we have another game next week to see where we’re at,” Douds said.
The Warriors (1-7, 0-5) will return to the gridiron to play No. 25 Ohio Dominican (6-2, 4-2) at home this Saturday.
Email Ronald at: