Although the College fell short in its attempt to salvage a winning season, falling 34-37 to Western Connecticut State University on Saturday, a broken record and a strong rookie performance softened the blow.
In his first start at quarterback, junior James Donoghue helped the Lions eclipse their single-season scoring record previously set in 1989. The record of 295 points was overtaken in the second quarter when Donoghue dropped a 22-yard pass into senior wide receiver Colin Weber’s hands in the end zone, giving the Lions a 27-20 lead.
Donoghue finished the game with 194 passing yards, completing 22 of 28 passes for three touchdowns as a substitute for injured senior quarterback Chris James.
“Donoghue did a good job filling in for James,” head coach Eric Hamilton said. “He understands and was prepared when the opportunity came. He came off the bench versus Cortland in adverse conditions last week and then started and played well this week. However, no one is more disappointed than he is about not getting the ‘W.’”
The freshman’s only blemish was his lone interception on the Lions’ final drive, an errant pass intended for senior wide receiver Mark Gardner that the Colonials picked off, sealing the victory.
Donoghue cannot be blamed for the loss though, as an inconsistent Lions defense was the cause of the high scoring total from the 1-7 Colonials. In the first half, the College surrendered three passing touchdowns of 40 yards or more, including a 44-yard desperation pass into the end zone, which brought Western Connecticut within one point of the Lions to end the half.
“It was a game of two halves,” Hamilton said. “We gave up too many big plays in first half, especially when they put one second back on the clock and completed the ‘Hail Mary pass’ on last play. That broke our back and should have never happened. Our offense answered every big play in the first half. However, we were outscored 11-7 in second half because we weren’t able to convert when we had our chances on both sides of the ball.”
The Lions were able to answer the Colonials’ big plays with their patchwork running game, led by senior quarterback converted to running back/wide receiver Bill Picatagi and junior running back Michael Yetka. Both were filling in for injured runners sophomore Justin Doniloski and senior Chase Misuira.
“Picatagi has truly been our jack of all trades and is our wildcat guy — quarterback, receiver and running back,” Hamilton said. “He is leaving his mark in his last couple of games here at (the College). Yetka has been a consistent player for us his whole career — not flashy but consistent. Not the biggest back but certainly has the heart. Hopefully (Kevin) Brown will start to pick it up here at the end of the season.”
Picatagi finished the game with 15 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns, while Yetka finished with 117 yards on 20 carries.
The Lions will finish their season on the road at rival Rowan University Saturday at 1 p.m.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Nov. 10, 2009 at 10:17 p.m. to correct an error in quarterback James Donoghue’s name and class status. We regret the error.