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Stagnant offense costs huskies in 23-7 loss to Kutztown

Jake McDonnell, Sports Editor

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     For the second year in a row, the Bloomsburg University football team scored just seven points and lost in double digits on homecoming weekend. West Chester accomplished this feat last year; the Kutztown Bears did it on Saturday, handing the Huskies a 23-7 loss in front of 5,122 fans at Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium. Both teams sport a 4-2 record following the meeting, and both hold 2-1 marks against Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division opponents. The loss snaps a four-game win streak for Bloomsburg.

     The Huskies did not get on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter. Through three quarters, Bloomsburg mustered just 66 yards of offense. Five of Bloomsburg’s nine first offensive possessions failed to produce 10 yards in gains. The game featured 13 punts, with eight of them coming from the boot of BU’s Kieron Smethers. BU also had three drives end on interceptions. Simply put, the Huskies could not move on Kutztown’s defense. When they did, it seemed to result in an interception.

     Prior to Saturday, the Golden Bears had lost 11 straight games against the Huskies at Redman Stadium. That streak ended on Sunday, and now Bloomsburg has lost two straight matchups against the Golden Bears.

     The second half opened just like the first half; scoreless. Both teams went the first 30 minutes without scoring a single point, but that changed after the intermission.

     The Huskies got the ball first after halftime, but punted after going three-and-out on a drive of -5 yards. A personal foul penalty against Bloomsburg gave Kutztown the football at midfield. The Golden Bears got down to the Bloomsburg 14-yard line in eight plays, featuring a 13-yard run by redshirt junior Craig Reynolds. The Huskies stopped the Golden Bears in the redzone, and Kutztown settled for a 31-yard field goal by redshirt junior Alec Rosenfeld. 35 minutes into the game, the first points had finally been scored, with Kutztown possessing a 3-0 edge.

     After much of the same from the struggling Bloomsburg offense, Kutztown added to their lead with a touchdown late in the third quarter. On the second play of the drive at the Bloomsburg 49-yard line, redshirt sophomore quarterback Colin DiGalbo connected with Reynolds for 38 yards, setting up the Golden Bears at the BU 13-yard line. Three plays later, DiGalbo found senior Josh Lee for the quarterback’s lone touchdown toss of the game.
Facing a 10-point deficit, over 16 minutes remained in the game for Bloomsburg to catch up, but the final quarter did not get any prettier.

     Before Kutztown took the game over, they slipped up early in the fourth stanza. Smethers had a ball go 44 yards, all the way to the Kutztown 13-yard line. Reynolds coughed up the football on a 2nd-and-12 play, and redshirt senior linebacker Scott Beltz recovered it right at the 1-yard line. On the ensuing play, redshirt senior quarterback Chris Palubinsky ran it in to trim the gap to three points.

     The Golden Bears could not get the ball past midfield on their next drive, and punted back to Bloomsburg to give the Huskies the ball at their own 24-yard line. The drive looked promising; on a 3rd-and-6 play, Palubinsky and redshirt sophomore Michael Allen hooked up for a big 49-yard play, putting the Huskies just outside of the red zone. But, on a 3rd-and-12 play, Palubinsky was intercepted by redshirt freshman Shawn Turber-Ortiz, who ran it back 50 yards to set up Kutztown on their own 48-yard line. Kutztown wasted little time to put the game away. On the first play of the drive, redshirt sophomore Abdul-Hassan Neblett dashed through the defense for a gain of 37 yards. On the next play, DiGalbo ran it in from 11 yards to put his team up 16-7 with 3:30 to go in the game. Rosenfeld missed the extra point, but it would not come back to haunt the Golden Bears.

     The same exact situation repeated itself seconds later. On the first play of BU’s ensuing drive, Palubinsky was picked off again, this time by redshirt junior Jake Perry. The turnover gave Kutztown the football at the 19-yard line of the Huskies, and all the Golden Bears needed to do was run the clock. The start of the drive featured multiple penalties, but those became a distant memory when redshirt freshman Evan Culver scored on a 21-yard run to give the Bears a 23-7 lead with just under two minutes remaining in the game. The Huskies did try to mount a comeback, but not nearly enough time remained on the clock for that to even be possible.

     In the game, Kutztown recorded 19 first downs, whereas Bloomsburg notched just seven. The Bears outgained the Huskies in both rushing (209-62), and passing (233-104). The total yardage difference on offense was 442-166. The time-of-possession war was also won by KU, 35:04-24:56.

     DiGaldo finished the game with 17 completions and a touchdown. Palubinsky completed 10 passes, along with his rushing touchdown. In the running game, Neblett led the Golden Bears with 67 yards on 12 carries; Reynolds racked up 60 yards on 13 carries. For the Huskies, redshirt sophomore Qmac Quiteh led the way with 50 rushing yards on 14 carries. Allen finished as BU’s top receiver with 91 receiving yards on seven catches.

     On defense, redshirt senior Ezra Ranco and redshirt junior Nate Monroe led the unit with nine total tackles apiece. Ranco and Monroe combined for a sack in the game. Redshirt sophomore Alex Annan and redshirt junior Jake Klinger picked up seven tackles each. Klinger also had a sack. Beltz and Annan had fumble recoveries. Redshirt junior Marquis Seamon broke up three passes. For Kutztown, sophomore Ahkee-Cox Cowan and redshirt junior Tajier Jefferson registered seven tackles. Ortiz picked off Palubinsky twice.

     The Huskies look to avenge this loss this Saturday, Oct. 14 with a 12:30 showdown at West Chester. Bloomsburg’s next two games will take place on the road, meaning that the next contest at Redman Stadium falls on Oct. 28 against Lock Haven.
 

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Stagnant offense costs huskies in 23-7 loss to Kutztown