KUTZTOWN | The Kutztown University football team had a good day both on and off the field. KU used a 21-point third quarter to run away with a 41-9 victory against East Stroudsburg University in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) game Saturday afternoon at Andre Reed Stadium.
Then, about an hour later and 60 miles away, Bloomsburg University lent a helping hand by upsetting previously unbeaten West Chester University on the road.
There is now a four-way tie at the top of the PSAC East Division between Kutztown (5-2 overall, 3-1 PSAC East), West Chester, Bloomsburg and Shippensburg all coming in at 3-1 in the division.
The Golden Bears offense started slow out of the gate. For the second straight week, they failed to score in the first quarter, and that has been a problem redshirt-sophomore quarterback Collin DiGalbo (Secane, Pa./Monsignor Bonner) knows they need to take care of.
“It’s been a problem for us since the West Chester game [two weeks ago],” said DiGalbo about the low-scoring first halves. “We just have to stick together and run the game plan and just take what’s given to us. I think we have just been trying to do too much and that has been hurting us.”
DiGalbo credited the KU defense for keeping them in games and winning the field position battle.
Kutztown’s defense, which came into the game ranked third in the PSAC in scoring defense (19.8 ppg) and first in interceptions (12), helped break a scoring slump late in the second quarter.
Leading just 3-0 with a little over two minutes until halftime and the Warriors (2-5, 1-3) driving, redshirt-junior cornerback Jake Perry(Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) intercepted a pass by Tim DiGiorgio and returned it 27 yards to position KU near midfield. It was Perry’s ninth career interception and fourth this season which is good for third in the conference.
Three plays later, DiGalbo found freshman wideout Amadou Barry(Upper Darby, Pa./West Catholic Prep) for a 42-yard touchdown. It was the first of two connections between the two on the day.
On ESU’s ensuing drive, the Maroon and Gold secondary was at it again. Ahkee Cox-Cowan (Harrisburg, Pa./Harrisburg) came away with an interception and took it back 50 yards to the Warriors 29-yard line, and allowed Alec Rosenfeld (Bensalem, Pa./Bensalem)to boom a 40-yard field goal as time expired in the first half and KU could headed to the locker room leading 13-0. Rosenfeld also kicked a 26-yarder earlier in the quarter to open up the scoring.
While Kutztown exploded in the third quarter offensively, it did not start out the way it wanted to.
On the first play of the second half, the Warriors forced a turnover with a strip-fumble recovery run back for a 35-yard touchdown for their first score of the game.
With momentum now on the side of East Stroudsburg, Kutztown could not continue to sputter.
And it didn’t.
DiGalbo picked apart the defense to the tone of three third quarter touchdowns each to a different receiver.
Conor Sullivan (Whitehall, Pa./Whitehall), Jack Pilkerton (La Plata, Md./La Plata (Golden West)) and Barry caught touchdown passes of 23, 6, and 79 yards respectively as the Golden Bears lead plummeted to 34-9 after three quarters.
Evan Culver (Hellertown, Pa./Saucon Valley) added a five-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter as the offense tallied a season-high 560 yards of total offense. It is the highest overall total since KU recorded 668 yards against ESU on Oct. 15, 2016.
Lost a little bit in the offensive numbers that were put up, the KU defense gave up just 185 yards of total offense and nine points. It is the second lowest yards total given up this season, the first coming last week against Bloomsburg (166 yards).
Redshirt-junior Tajier Jefferson (East Orange, N.J./Queen of Peace) led the way with 10 tackles (3 tackles for loss), one sack and a forced fumble. Jefferson also collected his 200th career tackle, becoming just the 23rd player in program history to accomplish the feat.
“I go out and play every game for my teammates and my school,” said Jefferson. “It’s a great honor, but I never think about individual accomplishments when all I want is for my team to win. It was a good performance by the guys today.”
Kutztown hits the road for its next game when it travels to Lock Haven Saturday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m.