More than midway through the season, the Lions have finally found their stride through a potent rushing attack and an opportunistic defense.
The College showcased its ground game on the road on Saturday against Buffalo State College (1-6), pounding the Bengals for over 300 yards rushing in a 48-29 win. Led by sophomore running back Joe Falco’s 169 yards and three touchdowns, the Lions (3-4) poured on the offense in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 points to seal the team’s first back-to-back wins of the season
The Lions have gained more than 300 yards rushing in both wins, and head coach Eric Hamilton, now with 199 career victories, is content with the team’s success.
“The running game was solid due to a couple of factors,” Hamilton said. “Quarterbacks recognizing fronts and executing, the ability of the backs — especially Falco — to find the creases created by the offensive line and hitting them hard and our ability to spread the field and keep Buffalo State guessing.”
Junior quarterback Jay Donoghue only needed to throw four passes against the Bengals, and has no problem handing the ball off to his stocky running back.
“We honestly were so dominant up front this week that our passing attack wasn’t necessary,” Donoghue said. “I would like to throw it around a little more obviously, but they whole point is to move the ball, score, and win. And that’s what we did consistently this weekend.”
However, he doesn’t expect the trend to last against stronger teams.
“I have a feeling that in the coming weeks were going to need to throw to win,” Donoghue continued. “Teams will start stacking the line of scrimmage, forcing us to beat them through the air.”
Donoghue and Falco were not the only Lions handling the ball. The College’s defense capitalized on three interceptions and one recovered fumble, collecting 10 turnovers in the past two weeks.
“Winning the turnover game is one of our primary objectives,” Hamilton said. “We have a great turnover differential because we work on creating turnovers, as well as not having turnovers of our own.”
Senior defensive back Matt Kreider is ready to continue the trend.
“We’re taking advantage of offensive mistakes,” he said. “We’ve forced nine interceptions in the last two games and we want to up that number this weekend against (Western Connecticut State University).”
On Saturday, Oct. 16, the College was even more dominant on the defensive side, intercepting six Morrisville State (1-6) passes in a 30-6 win. Leading the Lions with two picks was junior defensive back Derek Goreczny.
Falco, as well as senior running back Michael Yetka and sophomore quarterback Nick Tyson found success on the ground, combining with Donoghue for 338 total rushing yards.
Heading into an away game against winless Western Connecticut State University at noon on Saturday Oct. 30, Hamilton – one win away from 200 — is not worried about his approaching milestone.
“The only number that counts is getting the W at West Connecticut and getting No. 4 on the season,” he said. “That would work us back to .500 on the season overall and on the plus side in the NJAC.”
Bobby Olivier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.