Football falls to 1-1 in NJAC

By Matthew Shaffer
Staff Writer

The College’s football team earned its first victory of the season on Oct. 5, when it traveled to Wayne, New Jersey, and defeated William Paterson University by a score of 17-14. With the win, the team improved to 1-3 on the year and 1-0 in the conference. 

The Lions won the coin toss and confidently elected to receive. Four plays and 72 yards later, they found themselves on the board thanks to a 54-yard touchdown catch by junior receiver Ean Craig, the first of his career.

A couple drives later, William Paterson tied the game with a 10-yard rushing touchdown at the 4:41 mark in the first quarter. 

Graham moves for his third sack of the game (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk).

Things started to look bad when the College fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and William Paterson scooped it up for a touchdown return, making the score 14-7 after the first quarter.

Senior defensive back Xavier Santos came up huge with a timely interception just before halftime. However, the Lions went three and out, leaving the team down 14-7 at halftime. 

Santos struck again early in the third quarter with another interception, which led to a field goal. With just under six minutes left in the third quarter, senior defensive lineman Erik Graham came up with a huge fumble recovery around midfield, setting junior quarterback Andrew Donoghue up for an eventual four-yard rushing score to give the Lions the lead.

The Lions’ defense completely stifled William Paterson’s offense for the remainder of the game, as Santos came up with his third takeaway to seal the game near the end of the fourth, allowing the Lions to run out the clock and head to the locker room victorious for the first time this season.

The Lions traveled back home fired up, and took on Montclair State University in a conference matchup on Saturday, Oct. 12.  

While the score in this game was close, it wasn’t in favor of the Lions, who fell 10-7 and dropped to 1-4 on the year. 

On the opening drive, the Lions marched down the field with the help of a 35-yard catch by Craig. Two rushing plays later, Donoghue hit senior receiver Vinny Guckin on a fade route for a short touchdown, getting the College off to a fast start with a 7-0 lead.

Montclair State wasted no time marching right back down the field, getting the ball inside the 10-yard line for a first-and-goal opportunity. The College’s stout defensive line was able to hold Montclair State to a field goal, making it 7-3 just two possessions into the game. 

For the rest of the first quarter, the score remained unchanged due to stellar defensive efforts that resulted in six punts. Montclair State then drove down to the 33-yard line, only to get pushed back 10 yards on a holding penalty. The next two plays were sacks by Graham and junior defensive lineman Anthony Cortazzo, pushing Montclair out of field goal range.

The teams’ defenses continued to shine the second half, all the way until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. After a short punt, Montclair State found itself at midfield, leading to the eventual 10-yard desperation touchdown pass on fourth down, which gave it the lead 10-7. 

The Lions had two more chances to get within field goal range, but they couldn’t string together enough yardage in time. A win could have put the College in a first-place position in their conference, but they are now 1-4, while Montclair State improves to 2-3. 

In a highly anticipated matchup, as the Lions will face Kean University in their homecoming game at Lions’ Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19.

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