The Red Hawks basked in a victory toppling the Rowan University Profs in Glassboro 13-3 on Saturday, Nov. 4.
That winning sensation evaded Coach Rick Giancola’s squad for nearly a month after succumbing to the most arduous portion of their schedule. The Red Hawks were dealt the unlucky hand of facing three of their most formidable opponents Salisbury, Frostburg State and Wesley in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) for successive weeks. They failed to notch a win. Now that they were in the clear, the Red Hawks were determined to put their misfortunes in the rearview mirror and finish the 2017 season strong.
Rowan won the toss and elected to defer, granting the Red Hawks the first possession of the game. Freshman running back Nick Sodano returned the opening kickoff 25 yards to the Red Hawk 41. On the second down from scrimmage, junior quarterback John Apicella jump started the drive by hooking up with sophomore tight end Brian Kowalczyk for a 32-yard completion.
The Red Hawks marched down the field into the red zone at the Profs’ 11-yard line, but Apicella was unable to connect with senior wide receiver Julanee Prince on a third and four situation, forcing the Red Hawks to settle for a 29-yard field goal attempt in which junior kicker Hunter Daly split the uprights on to put the Red Hawks on the board with a 3-0 edge. The Profs’ would wind up answering right back on their first series as kicker Tyler Knighton booted a 42-yard field goal to knot the score up at three apiece.
On their next two drives, Apicella, who completed 11 of 20 pass attempts for 95 yards and an interception on the day, and the Red Hawks’ offensive attack had a tough time generating offense consistently, muddling through in-completions or short rushing gains. The Red Hawks caught a break though, following senior linebacker Joshua Betts’ blocked punt off the foot of Rowan’s Mike Ragno. Montclair State’s sophomore Ralph McLean recovered the ball at the Profs’ 25-yard line, setting the offense up with prime field position for a go ahead score. After a three and out, Daly pushed his second field goal attempt from 35-yards out wide right. Both teams were unable to muster any points the rest of the way in the first half, resulting in a 3-3 tie heading into the locker rooms.
The Red Hawks dynamic defensive unit set the tone coming out of the gates in the second half. On the Profs’ first play of the third quarter, Betts came through with a forced fumble, jarring the ball loose from running back Anthony Diorio’s clutches. Three downs later, Betts wrapped up tight end Mika Graham for no gain at midfield. Sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Burdge sacked Rowan’s quarterback Brian Furlong for a loss of six yards on the ensuing play, pushing the Profs’ back to own 44. Discombobulated by the pressure created by the revitalized Red Hawks’ defense, the Profs’ were slapped with a delay of game penalty, digging themselves into an even deeper third and 21 hole.
Sitting at their own 34 following a Profs’ punt, the Red Hawks were poised to clampdown and take control of the contest. Motivated by the defense’s high energy, running back Anthony Travisano figured he had seen enough of both teams trading possessions back and forth that yielded no points by exploding for an exhilarating 66-yard rush for a touchdown at the 11:22 mark. After a successful extra point by Daly, the Red Hawks reclaimed the lead at 10-3 and would not relinquish it for the remainder of the game. Daly tacked on another field goal from 38-yards out early in the fourth quarter to bolster the Red Hawks’ lead and earn himself his third NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors of the year. The defense hunkered down, stifling the Profs’ attack the rest of the way while Travisano carried the bulk of the rushing load in draining the clock en route to a gritty 13-3 victory.
With the win, the Red Hawks improved to 4-5 for the season and 4-4 in NJAC competition. They look to cap off the 2017 campaign on a high note and attain a .500 record as they host their rival, William Paterson, at Sprague Field on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 1 p.m.