Lions defeat Pioneers, remain atop NJAC standings

The Lions had a strong second-half effort to defeat the William Paterson Pioneers 21-0 in a key New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) game Friday night.

After leading by only one touchdown at the break, the Lions dominated both sides of the ball in the third quarter. Overall, the Lions gained 207 more yards than the Pioneers.

This weeks victory kept the momentum going from last week’s huge win over the Rowan University Profs.

“An NJAC win is a big win because you have to go undefeated to win the conference,” senior running back Jon Hedgepeth said.

It was the 10th win in a row for the College (5-1 overall, 3-0 NJAC) against the Pioneers.

“Scoring early and controlling the line of scrimmage defensively were the keys to our victory,” Head Coach Eric Hamilton said. “We didn’t play as well as we can offensively, but we controlled the ball.”

Fresh from his NJAC Player of the Week honors, senior quarterback Bob Schurtz completed five-of-five passes and rushed for the Lions lone score in the first half. Hedgepath carried the rushing load with 15 carries in the half for 51 yards and finished with 74.

“We could have done better,” Hedgepath said. “They were the last ranked running defense. We had a couple of mistakes.”

The Lions missed some opportunities in the second quarter as Schurtz was picked off twice at the goal line.

“We should have beat them 42-0,” sophomore running back Jim Dabrowski said. “They came to play and we made a lot of mistakes. A win is a win and we are happy to get it.”

The Lions came out re-energized after the half and stormed through the Pioneers defense, as Schurtz ran another touchdown in from one yard out with six minutes left in the third quarter.

Only minutes later, Schurtz passed to junior wide receiver Tony Sorrentino with a 36-yard touchdown strike, which put the Lions up 21-0. Schurtz finished the game with 162 passing yards on a 10-for-21 performance.

The Lions’ defense made the real difference, allowing the Pioneers only 63 yards of total offense.

“The rotation of our defensive line was important for us, and secondary is starting to play aggressive and confident,” Hamilton said. “Our linebackers probably played as well as they have all year.”

The defense made several outstanding plays to ensuring the Lions first shutout of the season. Junior linebacker Michael Sykes added to his NJAC leading sack total with two on the game and 11 overall. Sykes also had nine tackles.

“We stuck to our main defensive schemes and made a couple adjustments to their offense but other than that we just played our game,” Sykes said.

Junior linebacker Ray Bateman contributed six more tackles along with a sack, and junior defensive lineman Bryan Mulholland had a fumble recovery.

Upcoming Game

The Lions’ play George Mason University Patriots on Friday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. in Lions Stadium.

The non-conference match-up will be the first home game for the Lions in nearly a month. The Lions will look to improve on their 5-1 record and Top-25 Division III national ranking.

“After all of the traveling we have done lately, I feel good just to be home next week,” Hamilton said.