The Lions 24-7 halftime lead wasn’t enough to hold off the LaSalle University Explorers for a third straight win.
The Explorers scored 21 second-half points to defeat the No. 24 ranked Division III Lions, 28-27.
The Lions (2-1 overall, 1-0 New Jersey Athletic Association) and the Explorers (1-2) have never met on the football field.
The Explorers offense was stellar in the second half as they scored 21 points while simultaneously holding the Lions to a 35-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Blake Abbott.
Abbott missed a 30-yard attempt in the fourth quarter which would have likely won the game for the Lions. Explorers’ freshman running back Josh Brumfield ran in two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, sealing the win for the Explorers.
His first run was early in the fourth from the 1-yard line. His second run was a more impressive 36 yards, with less than four minutes left in the game, giving the Explorers their first and only lead of the game.
“We didn’t play well in the second half, too many big plays, too many penalties,” Head coach Eric Hamilton said.
“We had chances to win and didn’t get it done,” Hamilton added.
The Lions offense was strong during the first half, in which all three touchdowns were scored.
Senior quarterback Bob Schurtz went 15-for-27 on the night and threw for 216 yards and one touchdown.
In doing so, Schurtz was able to overtake the complete pass record formerly held by Pete Harteveld (1995-1997). By the night’s end, Schurtz had 296 completions, 15 more than Harteveld.
Senior running back Jon Hedgepeth led the team in rushing yards with a career-high 130 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown.
Notably, his first 100-yard game was in the Lions season opener this year against Norwich University.
Sophomore running back Leeaire Brown added a second rushing touchdown for the Lions when he dashed 21 yards downfield and into the end zone.
Tight end Jeff Lebb caught a 19-yard touchdown reception as well. The other tight end, senior Joe Franzone, led the team in receiving yards with 71. Abbott had a 29-yard field goal during the first half.
The College’s defense held LaSalle to only one touchdown in the half, which was a 78-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver John Zabel from sophomore quarterback Ed Marynowitz.
Saturday’s game against LaSalle was a rare match-up because the Explorers are a Division I-AA team.
The Explorers football program is relatively new, beginning its I-AA status in 1998.
“We are in the same academic situation as the Lions because we have a non-scholarship football program too,” Explorers’ Head coach Archie Stalcup said. “We felt we were on the same level as the Lions because we also play scholarship programs.”
“Hopefully we can keep them out of the end zone and take advantages of some of our opportunities,” Hamilton said.
A power outage from Hurricane Isabel forced the College to reschedule the game from Friday to Saturday.
The Lions next game is at Southern Virginia University on Sept. 27, at 1 p.m.