AN HISTORIC run for West Chester's football team finally ended Saturday in Hickory, N.C.
The Golden Rams (13-2), who already had set a program record for victories in a season, lost to Lenoir-Rhyne (13-1) in the Division II semifinals, 42-14. The Bears, who haven't lost since their opener, will now play Northwest Missouri State (14-0) in the title game on Saturday in Florence, Ala. Northwest Missouri beat visiting Grand Valley State (12-3), 27-13.
Lenoir-Rhyne has never been to the NCAA final, though it did win an NAIA championship just over 5 decades ago.
The Rams scored first and led 14-12 early in the second quarter. But the hosts and their flexbone option would dominate the rest of the way. It was 26-14 at halftime, and the Bears added a touchdown in each of the last two periods.
Lenoir-Rhyne, which didn't throw a pass, finished with 451 yards rushing on 70 plays and held the ball for 36 1/2 minutes. Quarterback Josh Justice had 175 yards and three TDs.
The 42 points were the most West Chester has given up this season, and the 451 on the ground was the most by an opponent since FCS Delaware had 445 in 2000.
West Chester, which played its third straight away game, hadn't lost on the road since last season.
Running back Rondell White finished the season with 3,107 all-purpose yards, just the third D-II player to top 3,000. The only player to have more was Chadron State's Danny Woodhead in 2006 (3,159). For his career, White had 7,668.
Shawn Leo finished his career with 189 PATs, one shy of the all-time PSAC record.
The Rams, who were making their first playoff appearance in 5 years, were in the semis for the second time and first since 2002. Coach Bill Zwaan is now 8-6 in the tournament. Five of those were road wins. He also took Widener to the Division III semis in 2000.