Overtime letdown leaves College with loss

Sophomore quarterback Nicholas Tyson. (Photo courtesy of Sports Desk)

When a game ends on a missed field goal, or in the Lions’ case on Friday, a botched extra point, it is easy to blame the man standing behind the mistake.

Junior kicker Tyler Olsson was the first to accept responsibility for the College’s 24-23 overtime road loss to Farleigh Dickinson University – Florham despite less than ideal conditions.

“The snap was enough to influence the kick, but I still should have made it,” Olsson said. “There are no excuses for something like that. The ball was on the ground and I should have made the kick.”

Following the point after — and tied score — that could have been, head coach Eric Hamilton was sure to quickly emphasize the loss as a whole.

“(Hamilton) took me and the snapper aside and assured us that no matter what people say, it doesn’t come down to one play and it shouldn’t have come down to that,” Olsson said.

The veteran head coach had his own take on the situation.

“Even though the game ended on that note, and it was a glaring missed opportunity, there were many other situations during the course of the game where if we had made the play, the result might have been different,” Hamilton said. “It just happened that his was at the end; the life of a kicker. That is the pressure of the position, and it also underscores just how important every play is and why you practice them.”

The Lions reached overtime after a three-yard run by junior running back Justin Doniloski tied the score at 17 late in the third quarter. Doniloski and sophomore quarterback Nick Tyson were successful on the ground against the Devils, combining for 201 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

“The offense improved, especially in the second half because they are getting an understanding of what we are trying to do,” Hamilton said.

The College more than doubled its total offensive production from its opener against William Paterson University, netting 287 yards but the coach still isn’t satisfied.

“We have to do a better job of getting more people involved in the offense, we controlled the ball and clock and statistically it was an even game, but we have to put points on the board,” he said. “We need to find the way to end zone. We unfortunately got down early, compounding it by turning the ball over on the kickoff following their first score. The bottom line is we need to make more plays than we are when the opportunities present themselves.”

The defense made itself known in the first quarter when junior defensive back Shawn Brown returned an interception for a 30-yard score, the Lions’ first points of the night.

Following the loss, the College falls to 0-2 while FDU-Florham improves to 2-0. Despite two winless outings, Hamilton is ready to move onto the team’s next game — an away game at The College at Brockport on Saturday.

“All losses are all tough, but getting up this week shouldn’t be hard for two reasons,” he said. “First any competitive athlete hates to lose and should want to do anything possible to win the next game and second, (The College at Brockport) is an New Jersey Athletic Conference game — nuff said.”

Bobby Olivier can be reached at olivier6@tcnj.edu.