EWING, N.J. — William Paterson (1-0, 1-0 NJAC) jumped out
to an early lead and then held off a late The College of New Jersey
(0-1, 0-1 NJAC) rally for a 15-7 New Jersey Athletic Conference
(NJAC) football victory Sept .3 at Lions' Stadium.
With the win, the Pioneers opened the season with a victory for the first time since 2007 (17-16 at No. 13/15 Wilkes, 9/1), started the year with a conference win for the first time in school history, and extended their win streak against the Lions to two games after losing 15 straight to TCNJ. The last time William Paterson won a game played in Ewing was 1992 (14-13, 9/18).
WP opened up a 15-0 lead midway through the third quarter but had to hold off a late Lions surge, one that saw them score a touchdown less than five minutes into the final period, and threaten with the ball inside the Pioneer 20-yard line during the final minute. A pass break-up by senior Chris Thomas (West Milford, N.J./West Milford) on third-and-five from the WP-16 meant that TCNJ had one last opportunity to keep its comeback hopes alive, but an incomplete pass inside the five allowed William Paterson to take over on downs and run out the clock with three kneel downs.
Sophomore Ryan Gresik (Newton, N.J./Newton) was very efficient under center, finishing 21-for-30 for 185 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Sophomore running back Dawys German (North Arlington, N.J./North Arlington) rushed 18 times for 106 yards and a score, his first career 100-yard rushing effort, while freshman Ray VanPeenen (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) had 14 carries for 40 yards.
Junior Joe Muraglia, Jr. (Belleville, N.J./Queen of Peace) hauled in seven passes for 70 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown. Junior Matt Reggio (Commack, N.Y./Commack) gained 59 yards on four receptions, while sophomore Chris Manfredo (Staten Island, N.J./Tottenville) added four catches and senior Derrik Rideg (Rochelle Park, N.J./Paramus Catholic) had three.
Senior linebacker Jim Hamill (Stanhope, N.J./Lenape Valley Regional) led William Paterson with nine tackles (three solo). Senior defensive lineman Dyon Moore (Brooklyn, N.Y./Hudson Catholic), had eight stops (1.5 for loss), and junior bandit Doug Dudek (Rockaway, N.J./Morris Hills) and sophomore safety German Decena (Union City, N.J./Emerson) each had seven. The Pioneer defense held TCNJ to just 135 yards of total offense, including 17 yards passing on 13 attempts.
The Pioneers fumbled to end the first drive of the game near midfield, but the WP defense came up with a stop on fourth-and-two on their own 34-yard line as Hamill and Dudek dropped TCNJ's Erik Smithman.
The Lions answered back with a goal-line stand, denying German on fourth down just inches shy of the end zone, but on the very next snap linebackers Brandon McNeil (Somerset, N.J./Franklin) and Jimmie Ray Ragland (Somerset, N.J./Franklin) brought down Kevin Brown for a safety. The defensive play gave the Pioneers the first points of the game (2-0) with 4:44 left in the opening period.
William Paterson got the ball back after the defensive score and advanced to the TCNJ-42 before German ripped off a run up the middle and found daylight, sprinting the rest of the way to record the first William Paterson touchdown of the season. Freshman Cory Mundt's (Rockaway, N.J./Morris Hills) extra point made it a 9-0 contest at the 1:33 mark of the first quarter.
The Pioneers were twice inside the Lions' five-yard line during the second period, but fumbles kept them off the scoreboard. However, the WP defense did its job, limiting TCNJ to 10 total yards and forcing a three-and-out on each of the Lions' possessions. William Paterson owned a 223-28 advantage in total yards, including a 91-0 edge through the air, while possessing the ball for 20:20 of the opening half.
After The College of New Jersey punted to start the third quarter, William Paterson got a break during its first drive when a potential turnover was called back. Gresik deflected a high snap and tried to cover it up, but the ball squirted away and the Lions recovered. However, the official had blown the play dead before Gresik had full control of the football, and the result was to replay the down.
That call would be an important one, as the Pioneers went on to put together a nine-play, 59-yard scoring drive. On second-and-nine, Gresik found Reggio, who broke up the left sideline for a 34-yard gain to the 13-yard line. A holding penalty, sack and rush for a loss of two yards backed William Paterson up to the 29, but a perfect pass and catch by Gresik and Muraglia for 20 yards gave WP a chance with the ball on the nine-yard line. A false-start penalty made it fourth-and-11, but a second spectacular play between Gresik and Muraglia, this one a pass that the receiver somehow managed to secure at the front-right pylon despite two TCNJ defenders blanketing him, resulted in six points. The PAT was wide, but William Paterson still owned a 15-0 edge with 6:34 on the clock in the third.
The Pioneers looked like they might immediately add to their lead when Ragland picked off a Nicholas Tyson pass and returned it two yards to the TCNJ-35. But, Gresik's attempt three plays later was tipped, kicked up into the air and snagged by the Lions' Kevin Allgood at his own 19-yard line.
TCNJ later took advantage of a short field, starting a drive on the Pioneers' 26 after a 21-yard punt return. On the third play of the drive, Tyson followed his blockers into the end zone from five yards out, and Tyler Olsson converted on the extra point to make it a 15-7 score with 10:41 remaining in the contest.
The Pioneers were able to bleed more than five minutes off the clock during their next possession, but a stop on fourth-and-inches gave the Lions the ball back at their own 30-yard line. The two teams traded three-and-outs before the final TCNJ possession that ended just shy of the end zone during the final minute.
Tyson was 1-for-8 for 12 yards under center, and rushed 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown for The College of New Jersey. Matthew Kreider led the Lion defense with 10 tackles (seven solo) and a fumble recovery.
William Paterson will enjoy a week off before opening its home slate Saturday, Sept. 18, against King's. Kickoff at Wightman Stadium will be at 1:00 p.m. The Pioneers will be celebrating Take a Kid to the Game Day (all children 12 and under admitted for free), and William Paterson students with valid I.D. will be eligible to compete at halftime to win a Wii gaming system.