As opponents stall and stammer, blue and gold blurs fly past their defenders, and the Lions push one step closer toward crafting a season worthy of remembrance. The team has a slew of battles left on its New Jersey Athletic (NJAC) schedule, but so far for the College, starting strong would be an understatement.
The Lions’ offense broke its second school record in two weeks following its 67-34 massacre of Morrisville State College on Saturday at home, setting a new standard for single-game scoring. The offensive onslaught eclipsed the College’s previous record of 64 points set in 1921 against Cathedral College.
The Lions (3-0) tallied a staggering 172 total points in their three-game home stand, a statistic that will likely garner them the top spot on the NCAA Division III scoring leader board.
Head coach Eric Hamilton attributed the Lions’ early success to the on-field experience.
“Offensively our skill position starters are seniors,” he said. “The offensive line has been together as well and they have transitioned into this season. We have a team that understands this and they pick each other up. Offense and defense have complimented each other and special teams are the wild card.”
“What we are doing really goes back to our team chemistry,” quarterback Chris James added. “The offensive line has been doing a fantastic job, and how well the offense line does is ultimately how the offense does.”
The College provided James with plenty of time in the pocket against the Mustangs, as he connected with receivers for 323 yards and four touchdowns, as well as one rushing touchdown. James was clearly comfortable, completing all but four of his 23 pass attempts.
Three of the senior’s touchdowns came in the first half, each reaching their targets more than 25 yards. James credits not himself, but the College’s rushing attack for his performance.
“The difference this year is our running game,” he said. “Our average (gains) are way up and now we have that to compliment the passing game.”
The Lions’ ran the ball well on Saturday, as sophomore running back Justin Doniloski and senior running back Chase Misiura combined for 135 yards and three touchdowns.
“Our running game has been very effective with Chase, Mike (Yetka) and I rotating in and out during series,” Doniloski said. “We all have different running styles and I think that keeps the defense off-guard.”
The offense was again without senior wide receiver and 2008 second team All-NJAC member Cameron Richardson, who is recovering from a high ankle sprain.
The Lions also capitalized on defense and special teams against the Mustangs, as a blocked punt return and fumble recovery led to two more scores for the College.
Although the players are excited about their record-breaking win, they are more concerned with future foes.
“Putting up 67 points in a win for us is nice, but we’re just trying to take one game at a time right now,” Doniloski said. “We’re not worrying about who we’re playing two weeks down the road, we’re just trying to focus on the team we’re playing that week and working hard into winning the game.”
The Lions will travel to Kean University this Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff, a huge test according to Hamilton and James.
“Point production will be tougher versus tougher competition, we will see this Friday at Kean,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know what to expect playing away, other than a tough NJAC against a good team. It certainly would help to have a following, but either way we will give it our best shot. There is lots of season left in what has become a wide open NJAC race.”
“This is the make or break game of the year for us,” James added. “The home stand’s stats were special and nice, but this is the real test for us.”