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Throwback Profs still driving

Withler Marcelin rushed for 217 yards on 41 carries in the season finale vs. TCNJ.
Rowan athletics photo

If the passing game and high-scoring outbursts are the rage in college football, Rowan coach Jay Accorsi is happy his team represents a throwback.

The Profs have ridden a strong running game, led by junior back Withler Marcelin, and a stout defense to a second straight NJAC conference championship and third consecutive berth in the NCAA playoffs.

"It always starts with your defense," Accorsi said. "We've always had, traditionally, great defenses here."

Rowan, which travels to play Centennial Conference champion Johns Hopkins this Saturday, last made three straight playoff appearances from 2004-06. But injuries and a brutal nonconference schedule threatened to end Rowan's playoff run at just two seasons.

The Profs played Widener at home, and Framingham State and Wesley on the road before opening conference play on the road against Cortland State. Widener and Wesley were both losses, and neither unexpected -- both the Pride and Wolverines finished a perfect 10-0 and qualified for the playoffs.

Rowan did defeat Framingham State -- handing the ECAC Bowl-bound Rams their only loss of the season -- and Cortland to emerge from the tough stretch at 2-2. The season was far from over, but for a team picked to win the conference and return to the postseason, it added pressure.

"As I always say, preseason rankings and those things, those don't win you any football games," Accorsi said.

Accorsi's team responded by winning six of its final seven, including this past Friday's game against TCNJ to clinch the NJAC's automatic playoff berth. And Marcelin, the main offensive driving force behind it all, was again front and center. Marcelin rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries, his sixth 100-yard game out of the nine games he's played in this season.

His 1,311 rushing yards rank ninth in the country, and that's despite a nagging ankle injury that caused him to miss a game.

`"He's very dynamic," Accorsi said. "He's strong, he's fast, he can catch the ball. I think we've used him too much, to be honest with you, but we've kind of had to with some injuries at that position."

And when it isn't Marcelin starring, it's the defense. When Marcelin missed the game against Kean two weeks ago, Rowan's defense pitched a shutout while holding the Cougars to just four first downs and 111 total yards. Rowan is allowing just 13.7 points per game (16th in Division III) and 267 yards per game (17th) this season.

Senior outside linebacker Tyler Jenkins leads the team in tackles (78), ranks second in sacks (3.5) and shares the team lead in pass breakups (7). Junior middle linebacker Darren Dungee, who has 77 tackles, has emerged as a playmaker this...

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Andrew Lovell

Andrew Lovell is an associate news editor for ESPN.com and a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has contributed freelance work to ESPN Rise and has been a regular contributor to D3football.com since 2007. Andrew has also written for a number of daily newspapers in New York, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal and Auburn Citizen. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with B.A. in Sport Media and a minor in writing. A native of Hyde Park, N.Y., Andrew currently resides in New Britain. 

2006-10 columnist: Adam Samrov 

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