In a packed house on a breezy fall night, the Rowan football team ended its home opener with a 22-6 defeat of NJAC opponent William Paterson this past Saturday.
Despite throwing an interception, sophomore quarterback Riley Giles had another solid performance, completing 33 passes and throwing a touchdown to senior running back John Mannion.
Mannion kept up his good work with 39 yards on 19 carries, but he found the end zone through the air in the first quarter, catching three passes for four yards and the score.
Rowan’s other touchdown came via an 8-yard Messiah Divine sweep in the fourth quarter. Three Alex Boyko field goals were wedged in between the two Profs’ scores. Eight different Profs caught a pass, including Divine and tight end Cody Madden, who both had eight catches for 72 yards. Mannion finished the night with 103 all-purpose yards.
Giles has made extreme amounts of progress over the past couple of weeks, trusting the spread offense and his teammates with the ball. In the game, the team implemented a lot of flat and screen passes, which Giles attributed to the team’s walk-through game plan in the days prior.
“We were just taking what the defense was giving us, whether facing their defensive line or whoever was in the box,” Giles said. According to him, the offense’s efficiency on the night was due to “the running backs making plays with the ball, which opened up other balls for receivers.”
While the Pioneers struggled all night on offense, going 3/14 on third down and 0/1 in the red zone, the Profs’ offense moved the ball effectively.
The brown and gold were a perfect 5/5 in red zone territory, scoring two touchdowns and knocking in three field goals.
However, head coach Jay Accorsi wasn’t satisfied with the offense’s red zone results due to the amount of field goals converted instead of touchdowns.
“I thought we played well at times, obviously discouraged in the red zone and not [being] able to get more points,” said Accorsi. “[As well as] giving up the touchdown at the end of the game.”
On defense, the Profs’ front four were able to sustain constant pressure on Pioneers’ quarterback Tracy Fudge throughout the game forcing him to make errant throws into traffic. Team co-captain Kevin Stokes arguably had his best game of the season, as he hurried Fudge all evening. He registered a sack, a pass defended and two tackles.
Fellow senior Chris Henchy also had a solid game with multiple hurries, a fumble recovery and a team-leading eight tackles.
William Paterson shot themselves in the foot due to mental mistakes, namely penalties. Through halftime, they had seven of them and finished the game with 11 total.
Rowan will head back on the road again, this time for a Saturday afternoon match at NJAC rival Frostburg, who’s also undefeated [2-0]. Kickoff is set for 1 o’clock.
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