Football ends year of progress with loss at Rowan

The Lions end their season against Rowan while staying above .500 in NJAC play. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Unable to end the regular season on a high note, the College dropped the season finale to Rowan University, getting hit hard by a score of 45-21.

The notoriously slow offense of the Lions (5-5, 4-3) was unable to put any points on the board until the third quarter. The Profs scored 31 before the College had any.

Rowan was able to convert for scores on the first two drives of the game, as long drives led to a 1-yard touchdown by Withier Marcelin and a 7-yard touchdown catch by Todd Guillaume.

It seemed like things were turning around when senior linebacker Nick Bricker got an interception, but Rowan’s Josh Popper returned the favor with a 63-yard pick six. A field goal later in the second quarter gave the Profs a 24-0 edge at the half.

After the struggles on offense, head coach Wayne Dickens tried making a quarterback change to create some sparks — something he’s done before. It worked, as freshman quarterback Mike Marchesano came in and threw a 6-yard touchdown to Fred Sprengel. The score was unfortunately canceled out after a 40-yard touchdown sprint by Khalil Pierce.

“When coach put me in the game, I was a little nervous,” Marchesano said. “After I had a couple plays, I felt comfortable, and I was able to help the team out.”

Marchesano showed some optimism as a freshman, but the growing pains came, too. At the end of the third quarter, he threw the game’s second pick six to put the Profs up 45-7.

Garbage time gave Marchesano a chance to show the coaching staff if he was a candidate for the starting job next year, and he certainly made his case. A 4-yard touchdown pass to freshman tight-end Chris Napoli was Marchesano’s second TD of the day. He went 23 of 29 for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Sophomore running back Brad Young ended the game with an 11-yard touchdown run. He wound up with 15 carries for 64 yards, while freshman running back Frank Fucello was able to show his stuff with 54 yards on only six carries.

Marchesano infused some life into the aerial attack, and that gave some pretty nice stat lines of the receivers. Sprengel had five catches for 61 yards and his score and freshman wide receiver Jeff Mattonelli nabbed six balls for 79 yards.

“I think if we just execute the plays that coach calls, we can get going right away,” Marchesano said.

The defense was not as sharp as it usually is, facing a tough Rowan offense, but it saw Bricker end a spectacular college career with 14 tackles, giving him 346 all-time — the second most in the College’s history. Junior linebacker Ryan Lowe added 10 tackles of his own.

It was an up and down season for the Lions, one which they did their best to establish a defensive identity but struggled on offense. After a slow start to the year, they remained respectable in the NJAC. Going forward, the team has a lot to think about for next season with 15 seniors departing.