BLOOMSBURG — After a football team looks back at its season and rehashes all of what should have been, what could have been and what would have been, the cold, harsh, stark reality is the record reflects that a team is what it is.
Following Saturday afternoon’s 31-15 victory over Clarion on Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium, Bloomsburg University is a 7-4 football team. That means the Huskies improved by one game over last season and finished their 19th consecutive winning season on a positive note.
Along the way they managed to be the only Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division team to defeat division champion West Chester – and on the road no less. Unfortunately, they also managed to be the only division team – other than winless Cheyney – to lose to Lock Haven – and at home no less.
Projected in the preseason poll of coaches to finish fourth in the division, that is where the Huskies finished with a 4-3 record. Still, they expected more of themselves and found it difficult to explain how they needed a victory over the Golden Eagle (1-10), who they defeated in Week 2 at Clarion 29-20, to finish 3-3 at home.
“There were some times when things didn’t go the way we wanted and some things were said about this team,” Chris Palubinsky, a redshirt senior quarterback from Shenandoah Valley, said. “No one knows what goes on in our locker room, and how this team came together week after week and gets ready to play.
“What people don’t look at is how young this team and how many underclassmen we have starting. There were just three seniors on offense and four seniors on defense.
“We wanted to go out with a statement game today for the way the season went. We also wanted to set a tone for next year and give those players coming back something to build on.”
Earlier this year Palubinsky set the school record for quarterback with 10 rushing touchdowns in a season, breaking the record of eight set by Dan Latorre in 2008 and equaled by Tim Kelly in 2015. In addition, Palubinsky moved into 10th place in career passing for the Huskies, and he added to his total Saturday by completing 11-20 passes for 161 yards to finish with 3,282 yards.
After Ryan Abbott put the Huskies on the scoreboard when he kicked his career-best field goal of 42 yards with 13 seconds left in the first quarter, Palubinsky passed for three consecutive touchdowns. His 30-yard pass to Michael Allen, who had five receptions for 94 yards, gave the Huskies a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.
With 3:26 left in the half Palubinsky completed a 23-yard pass to Aaron Allison for a 17-7 halftime lead. A 36-yard pass to Allen opened the lead to 24-7 in the third quarter, and Qmac Quiteh capped the scoring for the Huskies on a 14-yard run with 2:55 left in the third quarter.
Quiteh carried 21 times for 75 yards, giving him 979 yards for the season, but ending the seven-season streak of the Huskies having at least one 1,000-yard rusher. He and fellow running back Alex Gooden, who had 10 carries for 43 yards, are both redshirt sophomores.
“We always have high expectations, but unfortunately we just weren’t good enough to win in a couple of those games where we struggled,” head coach Paul Darragh said. “At the end of the day we showed we’re a pretty good football team, and I’m glad we were able to send our senior leaders out with a win and give the underclassmen something to build on.”
One of those building blocks is redshirt junior defensive tackle Jake Klinger from nearby Central Columbia. Against the Bald Eagles he was one of three Huskies with nine tackles, including two sacks for minus-16 yards and two other tackles for minus-20 yards.
Klinger finished the season with 22 tackles for loss yardage, the most since Justin Shirk finished with 21.5 in 2014. In addition, he recovered a fumble to set up a touchdown.
“All of us are aware of the numbers, but they aren’t something we look at or dwell on,” Klinger said. “Every week the only thing that mattered to this team was getting the “W,” and we put in a lot of work to make that happen.
“Win or lose, we would be in on a Sunday lifting and looking ahead to what we had to do in the next game. I’m sure we’re going to be looking ahead to next season, getting together for workouts and getting ready for the spring game.”
Which is why year-in and year-out the Huskies are who they are.