Lightning struck the College’s offense, evident in their igniting the scoreboard for 45 points and taking away their first victory of the season over Farleigh Dickinson University-Florham on a stormy night this past Friday.
Senior quarterback Dan Dugan led the Lions. After an eye opening performance in the home opener last week, Dugan came back and delivered another gaudy stat line. He not only passed for 308 yards and two scores, but within that, he broke the College’s single-game completion record with 34 successful throws.
“Dan is improving every day,” head coach Eric Hamilton said. “As he gains confidence, so does the offense. The staff has complete faith in what he can do and with this being his opportunity, improving every week will be key.”
The game started out eerily similar to last week, as the Lions were running on all cylinders in their opening drive. Senior running back Justin Doniloski culminated that with a one-yard touchdown run. He finished the game with 140 total yards on 33 touches.
“We didn’t start off this week well on either side of the ball, but as the game went on, we picked up momentum,” Hamilton said. “Our running game got a shot in the arm with Doniloski’s toughness.”
The Devils tied the game up with a goal- line run of their own, but the Lions countered right away with another solid drive that saw Dugan run the ball in from three yards out.
The second quarter was one to forget for the College. Their issues with the big play resurfaced as they gave up touchdown passes from 70 and 63 yards out. The Lions were able to add a 36-yard field goal from senior kicker Derrick Hughes as time expired in the half, narrowing their deficit 21-17.
“Big plays are our Achilles’ heel,” Hamilton said. “Defensive stops are becoming hard to come by, bending but not breaking. This week we hope to limit the big plays against us and hopefully make a couple ourselves.”
Despite the somewhat rough half, it appeared the Lions took a lot out of last week’s game, as they came out roaring in the second half and never looked back. They went off scoring three touchdowns in a row. The first came not too long into the half on a three-yard run by senior running back Nick Tyson. The other two were thrown by Dugan, a 37-yarder to junior wide receiver Fred Sprengel and a 17-yarder to senior wide receiver Matt Rosati. This put the College up 38-21.
The defense stiffened up and shut down the Devils in the second half, which certainly helped out the offense. Senior defensive back James Siracusa forced and recovered a fumble, showing why the College’s defense is based on turnovers. Senior linebacker Greg Burns led the squad with 11 tackles and he’s now 16 tackles away from breaking the school’s record of 284 tackles set by Carl Jones, a recent hall of fame inductee. Senior linebacker Michael Lambert and junior linebacker Nick Bricker chipped in with eight tackles apiece and senior defensive lineman Thomas Hoppe recorded an interception.
FDU-Florham scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter in an attempt to make the game interesting, but Tyson came right back with a nine-yard rushing touchdown, setting the final score at 45-28.
This was a great win for the Lions, as they exorcised demons from last week, showed that they’re a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball and, most importantly, played consistently. The College’s ability to play at a high level for the majority of the game limited mistakes and fueled the win.
The Lions will open up NJAC play at the College of Brockport on Saturday afternoon. They expect this win to springboard them to more success in the conference.
“Brockport has two big wins and are on a roll,” Hamilton said. “We always play well up there on the grass field so hopefully this win will give us some momentum. We will have to play a smart game because we can’t give them any help.”