Rondell White, Sean McCartney have big days as West Chester rolls
WEST CHESTER, Pa. -- Rondell White broke the school's all-time rushing record and Sean McCartney threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns as West Chester defeated American International 38-7 in the first round of the Division II playoffs Saturday afternoon at John A. Farrell Stadium.
West Chester (11-1), which equaled the school's single-season record for wins in the victory, advances to the second round to play PSAC East rival Bloomsburg next Saturday. The Huskies handed the Golden Rams their lone defeat on the season 31-28 back on Nov. 9. AIC (9-3) ends its season after making its first playoff appearance since 2008.
"I thought the difference in the game was [WCU defensive coordinator] Mike Furlong's defensive game plan," AIC head coach Art Wilkins said. "He had great rhythm to his calls, and as the game went on, he kept us off balance."
With the Golden Rams clinging vicariously to a 14-7 lead late in the first half, Erick Brundidge caught a 31-yard TD strike from McCartney with 19 seconds left to send the Golden Rams into the locker room with a 21-7 advantage. That capped just a two-play drive that covered 55 yards in 12 seconds as he engineered the two-minute drill to perfection.
Then, West Chester opened the second half with a three-and-out from its defense, and AIC punter Daniel Backx boomed a 62-yard kick that was downed at the Rams' 6-yard line. McCartney floated a deep ball down the sideline on the Rams' first play from scrimmage to a wide open Tim Keyser, who took it to the house for a 94-yard score and a 28-7 lead, which took the wind out of AIC's sails. It was Keyser's lone catch of the day.
"I think that was kind of a dagger in the heart," WCU head coach Bill Zwaan said. "Once [McCartney] got comfortable and got going, he had a great day."
"Don't get caught from behind," was Keyser's response to his thoughts on the long pitch and catch.
Anthony McCloskey and Mike Labor each registered tackles for a loss on AIC's next two offensive plays that eventually forced a punt, and the momentum had officially swung West Chester's way for good.
"Defensively, we really just kept it simple," Labor said. "They ran a similar offense to Clarion's last week. So a lot of our calls overlapped, and we got after [AIC QB Kevin Arduino] and shut him down."
Shawn Leo booted a 20-yard field goal with 1:33 remaining in the third quarter to put West Chester up 31-7, then Shawn Driggins snared a 2-yard TD pass from McCartney with 5:26 to play in the game. Leo's extra point on Driggins' touchdown tied former WCU place-kicker Alex Walsh's school record of 179 career extra points made.
Both Labor and Ronell Williams led West Chester with nine tackles. Each also had a tackle for a loss while Williams was credited with a QB hurry on a bone-crushing hit just as Arduino was letting go of the ball on an errant pass attempt in the first quarter. Shawn Krautzel posted seven tackles, including one sack, and Brandon Pepper intercepted a pass.
Eddie Elliott caught a 42-yard touchdown from McCartney in the second quarter that put West Chester on top 14-7.
Sparked by a 54-yard kickoff return by Brandon Monk to open the game, West Chester drove 44 yards on four plays with White plunging over the goal line from 2 yards out to put the Golden Rams on top 7-0.
AIC answered with a 68-yard kickoff return by Evan Graham that gave the Yellow Jackets possession at West Chester's 11-yard line. Graham was eventually dragged out of bounds by Leo. But, Arduino bulled his way into the end zone from 1 yard out for his 21st rushing touchdown on the year for AIC's only score in the game.
Arduino was 17-for-28 for 167 yards for AIC while Stephan Davis caught five passes for 54 yards for the visitors. Maurice Easterling ran for 36 yards to lead the ground attack, which was limited to 51 yards rushing on the day.
"I thought all of [WCU's] wide receivers -- and it is hard to differentiate -- are at a very high level," Wilkins added. "You can only hold the water to the dike for so long."
"[WCU's] linebackers are big," Arduino said. "Number 43 [Labor] is a big kid, and 52 [Williams], obviously. They are also fast. They play a ton of man-to-man, but they are great at it. We don't see much of that in the Northeast-10. "