Football loses to rival despite strong first half

Everyone was hoping for a repeat of last year’s football game between the College and Rowan University on Friday night.

The scene looked quite similar – with parking lots full of tailgaters, extremely long lines at the ticket booth and a packed stadium complete with screaming fans, confetti and five guys painted blue with the yellow letters L-I-O-N-S on their chests. The difference? This year Lions fans were the dissapointed ones leaving their own stadium after a 35-20 loss to the Profs.

While the Lions led the Profs for the entire first half, they were unable to score in the second.

“Its always hard to lose such a big game at home, especially for some of the guys who will never get a chance to play Rowan again in front of a home crowd,” senior Clint Cappiello said.

Both teams now have overall records of 3-1, showing the Lions and the Profs were a good match-up.

“They are two good teams, two even teams,” head coach Eric Hamilton said.

The fans seemed to disagree, saying that there would be no way the Profs would win. “I think, actually I know we are going to beat Rowan tonight,” senior Danielle Fry said with a pom-pom in each hand.

Senior Pat Levin agreed. “The TCNJ running game will be on tonight, and they will have good protection for the quarterback to make completions,” he said.

Rowan won the coin toss, received the kick and went driving down the field. After nine plays and 44 yards the Profs were on the Lions 18, and that is when Lions senior defensive back John Sher stepped in.

Sher intercepted a pass from Profs’ sophomore quarterback Mike Orihel in the end zone for a run of 74-yards, bringing it to the Profs’ 26-yard line. This play turned the momentum of the game around. Lions fans, now 5-deep along the fence, were going wild.

A pass from junior running back Gregg Silvesti to senior wide receiver Joe Bergondo took the Lions 26 yards into the endzone for a touchdown.

Junior place-kicker Blake Abbot completed the kick attempt putting the Lions up by seven only four minutes into the game.

After the touchdown, the Lions couldn’t get the ball moving up the field and Bergondo was forced to punt. The Profs capitalized on the 33-yard kick and went driving down the field, eventually into the end-zone.

Orihel passed to junior wide receiver Phil Silva who completed the final two yards for a touchdown. A good kick attempt by sophomore place kicker Damian Shaddow tied the score at seven.

At the end of the first quarter the Lions found themselves on the Profs’ one-yard line after two nice passes from freshman quarterback Jeff Struble. Time ran out in the first quarter, leaving the score tied, but a one-yard rush by Struble and successful kick attempt by Abbot in the beginning of the second quarter put the Lions up 14-7.

The Lions then extended their lead to 20-14 with two successful field goals by Abbott. The first was a 23-yard field goal and the second was 43 yards.

However, the second half would be the Lions’ demise.

“The defense didn’t break,” Hamilton said. Struble continued to complete passes to junior wide receiver Alan Kotteles, Bergondo, sophomore running back Corey Schoonover and Silvesti. But the Lions’ efforts weren’t enough to overcome the mistakes that were made and the Profs managed to pull off two more touchdowns.

“The team came ready to play, but the mistakes hurt us,” Struble said. “But that’s how it goes.”

When the Profs scored their second touchdown of the half, extending their lead over the Lions to 15, fans began leaving. The Lions had beaten the Profs last year for the first time in five years and they had been hoping for a repeat.

“The punt game no doubt lost this game for us,” Hamilton said. “Special teams hurt the team.” He said he knows what the team needs to work on. “The game was a great learning experience, they will only get better from tonight.”

Hamilton hopes to use this game to prepare for William Paterson University, who he believes will play in a similar style.

The Lions will take on the William Paterson University Pioneers at home on Friday at 7 p.m.