Assoc. Sports Editor
Who knew they weren’t screaming for ice cream?
At Biemesderfer Stadium, the crowd was amped and ready to go for their Black Out last weekend. Their dark Marauder gear was draped over their shoulders, free Turkey Hill ice cream was dripping from their spoons and free Turkey Hill iced tea was clasped in their hands. As No. 20 West Chester (3-0) started rolling, though, Millersville (0-3) withered away on a dreary and rainy Saturday night. By 9:35 p.m., the final score read 48-3, and the fans had plenty to scream about.
“I feel like we could’ve played substantially better,” Greg Breitbach, Millersville’s coach since April of this year, said. “It was a poor output.”
In the game, the Marauders only gained 121 yards on just over 22 minutes of possession. The West Chester Golden Rams nearly doubled their time of possession and stampeded Millersville’s defense for a whopping 624 yards – more than 5-times the Marauder’s total.
West Chester’s running game was what really took Millersville by storm. 456 yards were gained by rushing the football with an average gain of 7.2 yards per rush. Rondell White and Brandon Monk of the Rams both sprinted for over 100 yards; White had 234 and Monk had 177.
It all started with a 2-yard rush by White, in fact, on West Chester’s first drive. After a missed extra point, it left Millersville an opportunity to build some momentum. That opportunity was squandered, as the Marauders went their first 6 drives without a score. In fact, their 2 turnovers in the first half aided the Golden Rams to their 34 points by the end of the second quarter.
“Against a team like that, you can’t make those sorts of errors,” Breitbach said.
West Chester did most of the work, themselves, however, by getting in the end zone in 5 of their 7 drives during the beginning 15 minutes. White and Monk carried the load with 3 of their 5 touchdowns.
By the beginning of the second half, the scoreboard displayed a gruesome 34-3 score, lopsidedly in favor of West Chester.
The visiting team continued to dominate throughout the rest of the matchup. In total, their defense forced six fumbles, one interception and three total turnovers before the final tick of the game clock.
With another touchdown from White in the third quarter, and another tacked on by Monk in the fourth, the 1,135 in attendance had seen their third-straight blowout of the struggling Marauders.
“We’re embarrassed,” Breitbach said, although admiring the persistence of the blacked out fans that were most likely high on sugar: “I was proud to see the fans that stuck it out in the weather.”
When Millersville’s star-player becomes their freshman punter, Evan Stahl, you know it wasn’t an ideal game for the offense. His 8 punts for an average 46.2 yards per kick, including 3 that barred West Chester inside their 20-yard line, helped quell the Rams’ assault.
Quarterback Connor Casey lead the Marauders’ offense with 114 yards passing, but 16 yards were subtracted after being sacked thrice during the game. 5’-7”, 175-pound junior Brent Collins caught the majority of Casey’s passes for a total yardage of 51.
On the gassed defensive side of the ball, redshirt senior Dean May was on top of the pack with 5 tackles. Following May, safety Rasheed Johnson was in a 3-way tie for second on the team with 3 tackles of his own. Johnson’s presence was felt by the Golden Rams, as the first-year sophomore helped take down 10 more. Millersville’s defense also forced 4 fumbles while recovering 75 percent of them, despite the imbalanced scoreboard.
After a trio of tough losses, Breitbach, who is testing out the waters of head coaching for the first time at Millersville after serving several years as an offensive coordinator, kept his frustration at bay in the locker room.
“We need to improve,” he said poignantly.
What matters, now, is the future, and snipping specific blunders before they grow more and more tedious.
“We’re not about fixing the blame,” he said. “It’s about fixing the problem. We need more willingness to fix [it].”
Case in point, Breitbach scoffed at the fact that the wet and slippery conditions were any influence on his players’ performance on Saturday.
“Football is a game made to be played outside,” he said.
So, what’s next?
“We’re putting it to bed,” said the 10-year coaching veteran. “It’s one game at a time.”
Before Millersville hosts Shippensburg (1-2) in their next game, Breitbach will surely be examining his players and evaluating their improvement, day-by-day.
“Every day is a quiz,” he said, “All leading up to the test on Saturday.”
Will the Marauders ace the test? We’ll just have to see next Saturday at noon, as Breitbach and the Black and Gold look for a turnaround early in this 2013 fall season.