Don’t look now, but the Profs are on their way to another hot start to the season.
After a 3-0 start last year which led to a disastrous 4-6 finish, the Rowan football team has started this season undefeated through two games.
Hanging on to a 20-9 halftime lead, Rowan edged out Southern Virginia University 20-17 on the road for their first New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) game of the year.
Elijah Rehm, who has primarily been a kick returner, had another solid performance, this time on both special teams and offense. He accumulated 95 receiving yards, caught seven of quarterback Riley Giles’ passes and averaged 13.6 yards per reception. He also chipped in with an 81 kick return yards and two carries for four yards.
Despite only winning by a field goal, Giles had a phenomenal game and he completed over 70 percent of his passes with 20 completions and, like last week, zero turnovers. Just as impressive as his decision making and eventual victory was his accuracy. Compared to the opener at Widener University, he controlled his throws better and was more timely.
For the game, his quarterback rating was a respectable 89.6, connecting with six different receivers. According to head coach Jay Accorsi, Giles will remain the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.
“He was right on, he made some unbelievable throws, he was steady Eddie and he did a really good job,” Accorsi said. “[I was most impressed with] how he was able to touch the ball, [particularly] the one touch-ball he threw to Elijah down around their end zone, where he dropped it in the bucket. That’s a really hard throw to make.”
Accorsi also said he was most impressed with the team’s ability at the end of the game to win it, but noted that the team needs to play better defense moving forward before anything else gets improved. As for Giles’ performance, in just his second game as a Prof, Accorsi continued his praise of the young star.
“I’m impressed with his cool, calm demeanor and how he’s leading us offensively,” Accorsi said.
After starting the game five for eight on third-down attempts, the team converted only one out of its nine remaining attempts. They ended six of 15 overall on third for the game.
Despite the hot start like last year, Accorsi sees this Rowan team as completely different.
“Offensively, we’re playing more consistently,” Accorsi said. “I think the quarterback is playing at a really higher level. I think once we get set defensively and start playing more consistent, we’ll be more suited to handle more conference-type play.”
According to senior and team defensive captain Kevin Stokes, Rowan is a whole different team this year than in recent ones, strictly away from an X’s and O’s standpoint.
“We don’t give up on each other this year, [in previous years] we didn’t have the unity that the team does this year,” Stokes said. “Now that we’re all together, we know what to expect from each other. We’ve been with each other through the hard times and the good times.”
Playing their home opener Saturday at 6 p.m. versus fellow NJAC rival William Paterson University, Rowan will look to establish a second-consecutive 3-0 start.
Under Accorsi, Rowan is 86-34 all-time in conference play and is 15-1 versus William Paterson. At home, within those games, Rowan has outscored the Pioneers 335-65.
William Paterson hasn’t had a winning season ever since 1993.
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