After four consecutive wins against New Jersey Athletic Conference foes, the College had a chance to play spoiler against rival Rowan University on Saturday at Lions’ Stadium.
The Profs, now 9-1, proved to be too much for the Lions, handling them steadily in a 27-7 loss in the team’s season finale. The Lions finish the season 5-5, and with at least .500 record for the first time since the 2007 season.
The College jumped out to an early lead, as senior defensive back and co-captain Matt Kreider returned a Rowan interception for a 55-yard score. It was Kreider’s second touchdown this season in his final game as a Lion.
Kreider commented on his final highlight in a College uniform.
“I recognized the out route from the slot receiver pretty early, so I was able to undercut it and pick it off,” he said. “My defensive linemen threw some nasty blocks downfield, and after I was able to zig-zag through them and I was free to coast into the end zone.”
After Kreider’s touchdown, untimely mistakes plagued the squad for the remainder of the contest. The Profs bounced back quickly, scoring twice within 90 seconds early in the second quarter. A Rowan seven-play drive following a fumble was capped off by a two-yard score by junior running back Steve Hevalow, his first of three touchdowns on the day. The Lions fumbled six times in the game, losing three.
“Rowans defense was just more physical than our offense, especially on the line,” head coach Eric Hamilton said. “That was the reason for the fumbles. All season we have done a good job with turnovers except the last game and it cost us.”
Only seconds later, Hevalow was in the end zone again following an interception thrown by junior quarterback Jay Donoghue.
Fourteen unanswered points came in the second half as Profs senior quarterback Tim Hagerty found senior wide receiver Justin Long on a short slant to the end zone. Another fourth-quarter Hevalow score kept the game out of reach.
Kreider was proud of his squad, despite being put in undesirable positions all game by offensive turnovers.
“Even with the field position we were given we still managed to force two picks, and a turnover on downs inside our ten yard line,” he said. “This defense fought until the final whistle, and I’m proud of the effort we put out on Saturday.”
For Kreider, and many other Lions, this was his final chance to play in Lions’ Stadium, but he takes it all in stride.
“It’s tough,” he said. “Football has been such a big part of my life. it’s going to be tough to give it up. But it’s been a fun ride…we’ve had our ups and downs, but I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to spend four good years here, and I’m excited to see our defense continue to improve next year.”
Although the College could not stop Rowan, the Profs will not move on, as a tiebreaker with SUNY Cortland — also 9-1 — has the Red Dragons moving on.
Bobby Olivier can be reached at email@example.com.