After a tough loss to Montclair State, the Rowan University football team is looking to bounce back in their upcoming game this Saturday against Christopher Newport University. This will be the eighth time the two teams face off, with Rowan having won six of those games.
Last season marked the first time in eight years that the Profs and Captains faced off; before that the schools had met six straight times from 2002-07. Even though the brown and gold won the last game, 14-9, they will face a Christopher Newport team that is 4-0 and hitting its stride as the season progresses.
The Captains are outscoring opponents, 130-62, and are dominating their competition with a passing attack that ranks first in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. They also have a high third-down conversion rate (41 percent) and have not allowed any points off turnovers this season.
On the flip side of that, the Captains have forced 11 turnovers on the year, returning three of those turnovers for touchdowns. Rowan will have to cut down on turnovers, seeing as they had five total against Montclair State.
Rowan head coach Jay Accorsi has used that game as an opportunity to help the team learn from their mistakes and move forward to the new challenge of the red-hot offense awaiting them.
“It’s more of just playing consistent football, we just didn’t do that enough Saturday to win the game,” Accorsi said. “We can’t afford to play so high at times and then so low. We’ve got to play more even-keel and just improve.”
If the brown and gold hope to defeat Christopher Newport, they will have to rely on their defense to make plays, especially in key situations. The Profs gave up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to Montclair State, including a late score with under a minute left which let the Red Hawks to go in front and secure the victory.
Rowan senior cornerback Kori Haggie, who started in just one game last season, should be a player to watch on Rowan’s defense this weekend. Haggie has made his presence known so far this year, recording 10 tackles and two interceptions in his last game.
The task at hand this week will be containing an offense that is averaging 12 yards per catch and has dominated each team they have faced this season in the fourth quarter, outscoring the opposition, 49-7.
A key factor in stopping the Captains will be preparing to take away big plays defensively.
“I’m focused on continuing to make this defense strong and to keep getting turnovers for us,” Haggie said. “It’s no surprise to me that they’re 4-0, they were good the year before. We just have to be up for the challenge on Saturday night.”
Another part of that defense to keep an eye out for is junior strong safety Shaquille Lee. Against Montclair State, Lee recovered a fumble and has forced three turnovers on the season.
Lee said that the success of the Christopher Newport football team thus far has allowed Rowan to step back and allow some of that pressure to be placed on its opponent.
With a win on Saturday night, the Profs would improve to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the NJAC. It would be their first 3-1 start since 2013, the same year that the team advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
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