It was another game to forget for the Kutztown Golden Bears’ defense; one that saw its past three opponents score at least 40 points per contest as KU fell to the West Chester Golden Rams Saturday 45-24.
Lack of pass coverage hindered KU for most of the game. After keeping the game close through the first three quarters, with KU trailing 17-14 after Chris Wortham opened the second half with a 98 yard kick-off return, WCU’s offense exploded, scoring 21 of 28 points in the second-half.
WCU quarterback Mike Mattei kept with the trend, lighting up the stat sheet with his first offensive possession of the second-half with a 47-yard pass to WCU wide-receiver Erick Brundidge. The drive would result in a Mattei touchdown pass to receiver Jim Dempsey, one of Mattei’s two touchdown passes.
Mattei completed 19 of his 26 passes for 318 yards, averaging 16.7 yards per completion. The KU defense failed to pressure the quarterback, sacking him only once.
After a kick-off return that put KU on their own 13 yard-line, quarterback Josh Luckenbaugh fumbled the ball after being hit in the pocket, resulting in a fumble recovery and a touchdown for WCU. From there, WCU would score two more touchdowns. KU could not recover, scoring only a touchdown and a field goal late in the fourth quarter.
The game was even offensively. WCU accumulated 406 total yards to KU’s 376. In his first career start at quarterback, KU freshman Luckenbaugh ran a conservative offense, completing 36 of his 53 passes for 306 yards and one touchdown, averaging 8.5 yards per completion.
Replacing starter Kevin Morton, who did not play due to an injury he suffered to his non-throwing shoulder in the previous week, Luckenbaugh filled in admirably, but he did have his share of mistakes. A tipped pass for an interception, along with a pick thrown in the end-zone for a touchback, which negated a possible field goal.
KU head coach Raymond Monica was pleased with Luckenbaugh’s play but still sees room for improvement.
“I can’t tell you much until I watch the film, but he did a good job with the short passing game. We’ve got to be able to stretch the field vertically, I will say that,” said Monica.
KU did see running back Curtis Wortham accumulate 264 all-purpose yards. Wide receiver Shahaid Smith led KU receivers in receptions and yards with 12 catches for 86 yards.
After a comment about the KU defense being a concern early on in the season, Monica smiled saying, “You think?” saying that his defensive squad has to continue to “play as hard as they can, don’t worry about mistakes, and do the best they can.”
So far this season, KU has been unable to find an answer defensively. They are ranked towards the bottom nationally, 121, in total defense. With 417.75 yards allowed per game and giving up 20 touchdowns in their first four games, KU ranks 12 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, which is out of 16 teams.
The team hopes they can turn it around soon, with a rematch of last year’s PSAC championship game, at Slippery Rock on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m.
By Ryan Beach