After two weeks, Kutztown University found itself 0-2 with graduate quarterback Donny Blaine out with an injury.
Three weeks later, the Golden Bears have completely altered the course of their 2023 season.
Kutztown has won three straight games, including victories over then-No. 13 Shepherd and East Stroudsburg — both of which were undefeated prior to playing to the Golden Bears — to begin its Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East schedule 2-0.
“We’re not even scratching (the surface) yet,” Kutztown coach Jim Clements said. “We still got a lot of potential. We’re a pretty good team right now if we stay healthy and play hard.”
After a 20-3 win over the Rams and a 34-27 comeback victory over the Warriors last week, the Golden Bears (2-0, 3-2) are in sole possession of first place in the PSAC East. Six teams are tied for second place with 1-1 conference records.
“We started out with a rough start, but we knew what our goal was,” team captain and running back Jordan Davis said. “We just know if we go 1-0 every week, then we’re going to be where we need to be.”
A big reason for Kutztown’s recent success has been its offense, which is averaging 33.7 points per game over the past three weeks. The Golden Bears are averaging 379.4 yards per game this season, which ranks fourth in the PSAC.
“We’ve got a lot more weapons and more explosiveness than we had in the past,” Clements said. “We’ve been able to take advantage of that.”
After Blaine went down with arm injury, redshirt freshman quarterback Judd Novak took over as the starter in Week 2 and has found success. A Manheim Central graduate, Novak has completed 60.19% of his passes for 940 yards and nine touchdowns with four interceptions over the past four games.
“Judd is doing a great job,” Davis said. “He’s stepped in.”
Novak is averaging 235 yards per game, which ranks fifth in the conference. While Blaine is back from his injury, Clements named Novak as the starter for Kutztown’s game at Bloomsburg (0-2, 1-4) on Saturday at 2 p.m. Clements said a decision has not been made regarding who will start beyond Week 6.
“He’s getting better every snap,” Clements said about Novak. “For us, it’s about who’s having the sharp practice during the week.”
Novak has helped ignite the Golden Bears’ newfound explosiveness, throwing for touchdowns of 28, 55, 68 and 72 yards in the past three games. Graduate wide receiver Kurtis Ravenel Jr. leads the team in receiving with 22 catches for 352 yards and three touchdowns.
“We’ve got a lot of guys on our team that have the ability to make big plays,” Clements said. “It’s our job to get those guys the ball in successful situations.”
Novak was named the PSAC East Offensive Player of the Week for Week 5 on Monday. While he is getting more comfortable with the offense, he and his teammates are not losing focus of their goals.
“(Confidence) is definitely riding high, but we’re still trying to go 1-0 every week,” Novak said. “Our mind stays on who the opponent is for the week upcoming.”
On the other side of the ball, Kutztown’s traditionally strong defense is off to a good start. The Golden Bears are allowing just 21.2 points per game and 275.6 yards per game, the second-fewest in the PSAC.
“The team is motivated,” Davis said. “Offense and defense, we’re playing complementary football.”
With the regular season at its midpoint, Kutztown is confident it can contend for the PSAC East title.
“We all just have great chemistry together,” Novak said. “I believe in this team.”
Source: Berkshire mont