Lions fall to nationally ranked Wesley

Senior linebacker Zack Vasilenko attacks Wesley’s offense. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Senior linebacker Zack Vasilenko attacks Wesley’s offense. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

By Anthony Caruso
Staff Writer

Three weeks out from their last game, the Lions returned to the field. However, the result was the same as they continued their winless streak this season on Saturday, Oct. 10, with a 45-14 loss at Lions’ Stadium to visiting Wesley College.

The Wolverines, who are ranked No. 5 in the country for Division III football, improved to 5-0 overall, while the Lions dropped to 0-4, a record that has since dropped to 0-5.

Early on, it looked liked the College was the better team on the field even though they were competing with a top five team in the country.

A few minutes into the game, the Lions had a 7-0 lead when junior quarterback Michael Marchesano hit Max Boersteol for a 38-yard touchdown down the middle of the field.

However, after the poor start, Wesley regrouped and dominated the rest of the game. The Wolverines scored 28 straight points to end the first half, then added an additional 10 points in the second half.

Lions coach Wayne Dickens says the team practices enough, but can’t finish on the field.

“We practiced every day and we didn’t sit around and eat bonbons,” he said. “We were able to come out and execute and early on, we executed sharply. Then, the bug-a-boos started to come along — with us making a mistake, or us getting a huge penalty at the wrong time.  When you’re playing teams that are ranked in the ‘D-III’ rankings in the nation, you can’t make those errors. It’s too hard to overcome it.”

Junior running back Jamar Baynard scored Wesley’s second half touchdown, while senior kicker Eric Speidel connected on a 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Early in the third quarter, the Lions’ defense came up huge with a goal-line stop. After the Wolverines got the ball to the one-yard line, senior quarterback Joe Callahan was stopped on two straight plays.

Then, on a fourth and one play, Wesley decided to give the ball to Baynard, who was also stopped with no gain. Lions senior linebacker Zack Vasilenko came up with the instrumental goal-line stop to force the turnover on downs.

That gave the Lions’ offense momentum, but the game continued to slip away.

“That was a huge stop for our defense,” Vasilenko stated. “That set the momentum for the entire second half. I wish we would have done it sooner, but I won’t say much more than that. It was a great stop.”

Just seconds into the second quarter, the Lions took a 14-7 lead when sophomore signal-caller Trevor Osler hit senior wide reciever Nick Craig for a huge 40-yard touchdown.

“It’s a play that we have ready and we practice from a consistent landmark on the field,” Dickens said. “We line up and we rep it. We were able to execute it when we needed it. We bought time with a play-fake and we had enough time and the ball was thrown where it was needed to be. It paid off for us.”

After that touchdown, the Lions’ offense didn’t produce another point for the rest of the game.

“We knew there were some opportunities and we were able to take advantage of them early,” Dickens said. “That set them up on their heels a bit and we had a chance. But the same old bug-a-boo comes back to get us in the end. When we were playing mistake-free football, it was an interesting game.”

New Jersey Athletic Conference newcomer Frostburg University continued the trend of every team this season on Saturday, Oct. 17, when the Bobcats defeated the College, 19-6, at Bobcat Stadium.

Junior Isaac Robinson started the game with a 32-yard field goal at 11:17 for the early 3-0 lead.

The Bobcats freshman signal-caller Conor Cox hit senior receiver Antonio Wood for a six-yard touchdown with 26 seconds remaining in the second quarter.  Sophomore quarterback Joe Beckford, who threw for 92 yards, hit junior wide receiver Austin Bosnail for a 20-yard touchdown, as the home team went up 16-0.

In the fourth quarter, junior Isaac Robinson kicked a 30-yard field goal to give the Bobcats a 19-0 lead.

Lions junior quarterback Michael Marchesano scored on a six-yard run with a little more than six minutes remaining in the game. Sophomore kicker Brian Nagy had his extra point blocked.

The Lions return home this Saturday, Oct. 24 for homecoming. They face Montclair State, who will look to damper the homecoming festivities.

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