Rowan football continues to struggle, stay on the road against #25 Salisbury University this weekend

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It’s safe to say that the Rowan football team has not played up to their potential over the last month.

The Profs dropped their fourth straight game to #14 Wesley College by a score of 34-3 on Saturday afternoon. The Wolverines improved to 6-1 overall and an undefeated 6-0 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), while the brown and gold fell to 3-4 overall and 2-4 in the conference.

Although it doesn’t reflect on the scoreboard, Rowan had their best offensive performance in the last four games, particularly in the first half. They were able to pick up first downs in five of their drives with the exception of the final drive of the half.

Rowan were without junior running back Anthony Diorio who was nursing a knee injury. According to head coach Jay Accorsi, he is expected to be back this weekend. Taking over the starting role was fellow junior running back John Mannion who had 25 carries for 107 yards. Freshman tailback Messiah Devine added seven carries for 46 yards.

“I thought I did [well] and I thought the offensive line blocked well,” Mannion said. “I’m happy with how we played, but it stinks that we lost.”

In his second collegiate start, quarterback Quinn Collins went 8 of 15 for 111 yards and an
interception, but was sacked six times. The inability to spread the ball around to other receivers seemed to plague the Profs in the loss.

“I thought Quinn played well,” Accorsi said. “He is going to get better and there are some things we have to work on with him in the passing game.”

The Wolverines more than doubled the Profs in total yardage, 444 to 214. Quarterback Khaaliq Burroughs went 22 of 29 for 269 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He connected with wide receiver James Okike eight times for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Okike is second in receiving yards and receptions per game in the conference through seven weeks of the season. The top rusher in the NJAC, E.J. Lee, had 19 carries for 113 yards and three scores. He’s over 1,000 yards on the ground for the year and has 11 more touchdowns on the ground than any other running back in the conference.

“We just have to get consistent defensively,” Accorsi said. “I thought we played well at times. I knew their speed and athleticism was going to give us a lot of problems. I thought we played better and are improving. We are young in the secondary, and against teams like Wesley, you’re going to be pressed.”

Rowan was also without starting sophomore defensive tackle Raph Jackson and starting defensive end David Gajderowicz. Although they were without some key players, defensive lineman Kristian Lewis continued his consistent work. He had six tackles, two of which were for a loss and one sack. As a senior leader on this team, he thinks unity can help get the brown and gold out of the funk they have been in recently.

“We got to stick together and keep grinding,” Lewis said. “We know we have a young team, so we are working on bonding together and getting the kinks out.”

It will not be an easy task, as the Profs are on the road again this week as they travel to #25 Salisbury University on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Seagulls are tied with the Wolverines in the race for a conference championship. Although Rowan now is posting a losing mark, Accorsi says it is not time to hit the panic button on this season.

“As a coach you do not want to panic and then have the players panic,” Accorsi said. “We haven’t been the same since we lost to Frostburg. To come back emotionally from that, you have to fight through it and do what you can. We need to keep staying the course and keep working hard.”

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