Football suffers first shutout since 1996

The College’s football team was stunned 43-0 by the State University of New York (SUNY) at Brockport Saturday afternoon. It was the first time the College has been shut out since 1996.

“They were a good team,” head coach Eric Hamilton said. “They have a lot of talent and numbers. We went up there with every intention to win. They beat us in all three dimensions of the game. Sometimes you have to give credit to the bad guys.”

Senior quarterback Bob Darnley piloted the Brockport offense, passing for 254 yards and two touchdowns and also rushing for 125 yards and one touchdown. Five plays into the Golden Eagles’ final drive of the first half, Darnley, who is not usually known to be fleet of foot, broke free for a 66-yard touchdown run to put his squad up 19-0 at halftime.

“That might be the one that broke our back,” Hamilton said.

The Brockport offense was explosive all game, totaling 514 yards and needing just five plays or fewer to put the ball into the end zone on six of their eight scoring drives.

Darnley kept at it in the second half, this time with his arm, passing five yards to junior running back Brian Wise for a score that put Brockport up 29-0 in the third quarter.

Wise added a 49-yard touchdown run earlier in the period and junior running back John Brown added a one-yard touchdown run to cap Brockport’s 17-point third quarter. Brown’s touchdown was set up by a 50-yard run one play earlier from junior running back Dan Lopez, who collected 111 yards on 17 carries.

Darnley struck again in the fourth, going long distance to sophomore tight end Mike Bond for a 56-yard score. Sophomore place kicker Adam Lanctot, who successfully converted three field goal attempts of 22, 22 and 23 yards on the day, sent the point-after attempt through the uprights to give the Golden Eagles their 43-0 lead.

Defensively, the Golden Eagles picked off five passes from the Lions and held them to just seven first downs and 139 total yards with just 47 coming on the ground.

Junior running back Gregg Silvesti managed 33 yards on 14 carries to lead the Lions on the ground. He was also the Lions’ top receiver with three receptions for 21 yards.

Freshman quarterback Jeff Struble, who completed eight of 19 passes for 92 yards, was sacked four times and threw four interceptions. He entered the game having thrown just one interception all season.

Senior linemen Joe Ward and Justin Mannick each collected eight tackles to lead the defensive attack for the Lions, who entered the game ranked No. 37 in the latest Football Gazette poll.

The loss drops the College to 4-1 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), 6-2 overall and eliminates their chances at the playoffs via a NJAC championship.

A win in the Lions’ final game of the regular season against Kean University, however, would clinch second place in the NJAC and give the Lions hope for a possible NCAA or Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) playoff bid.

“Our goal right now has to be undisputed second place with only one (NJAC) loss,” Hamilton said. “Then, with a 6-2 record (overall) we’ll see if anyone wants us to play more.”

Playoff bids for non-conference champion teams are decided by a number of factors, most notably strength of schedule. Last season the Lions finished 7-3 but because the losses came to top teams, they earned an ECAC playoff spot.

If the Lions do clinch second with a win over Kean, their chances for a playoff bid may be increased by the fact that their one conference loss came at the hands of undefeated Rowan University, who has clinched first place in the NJAC.

The College took a 21-14 lead into the second half against the Profs on Oct. 1 but gave the game away with 21 unanswered points in the second half.

“This team deserves to keep playing,” Hamilton said. “They’ve had a good year. Take away that third quarter against Rowan and who knows what you’ve got. I would hate to have that be the kind of thing that decides the season. Our guys have represented the College pretty well this year.”

The Lions will host Kean on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Lions Stadium.