UNION, N.J. (10/29/11) – The Kean University football team held on for a 13-6 win over Rowan University in a pivotal New Jersey Athletic Conference match-up played in blustery, snowy conditions at Kean's Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In the victory, senior Bekim Bujari made 10 tackles and added an interception return for a touchdown late in the game to help seal the win for the #18 Cougars (7-1, 6-1 NJAC).
For Rowan (5-3, 5-2 NJAC), Keith Corcoran carried the ball 40 times for 170 yards.
Rowan scored on its first drive of the day, as the Profs posted the game's longest drive of 64 yards. Corcoran broke the game's longest play with the 61-yard rush to move the Profs inside the Kean five-yard line. Two plays later, Steve Hevalow carried the ball down to the one-yard line, where Kean's Richard Esdaile forced the fumble, however Kevin DelleDonne recovered the ball in the endzone for the Rowan touchdown. The extra point attempt by Tom Wilczynski went straight into the line, as Rowan held the 6-0 lead just 4:21 into the game.
The Cougars, who were forced to punt on their first four possessions, got on the board late in the first half. After taking over on downs near the Rowan 40-yard line, senior Chris DiMicco and junior Darius Kinney combined for four rushes for 16 yards to open the drive. Kinney then caught a 15-yard pass from senior Thomas D'Ambrisi (pictured left) to move inside the 10-yard line, before D'Ambrisi found senior Chris Suozzo in the front corner of the endzone with the eight-yard touchdown pass. The extra point by senior Billy Daniels gave the Cougars the 7-6 lead with just 20 seconds left in the half.
In the second half, both teams battled for field position, as neither team was able to put together a drive of longer than eight plays or 36 yards.
With less than 2:15 remaining in the game, a Daniels' 39-yard punt was downed inside the Rowan five-yard line. On the first play of the ensuing Prof drive, Bujari intercepted the Louie Bianchini pass inside the Rowan 20-yard line and returned it for the touchdown with just under two minutes left in the game. The Daniels extra point was low, as the Rowan line was able to block it to keep the score at 13-6 and have one last chance at tying or winning the game.
Rowan started the final drive of the game at its own 43-yard line and Bianchini completed three straight passes, including an 18-yard completion to Dan Reed and a 13-yard pass to Eddie Eisenhart to set-up a fresh set of downs at the Kean 23-yard line. A two-yard completion to Corcoran would move the Profs to the 21-yard line, however that would be as close they would get, as Bianchini's final two passes fell incomplete.
The Cougars, who kept the ball on the ground for all but eight of the team's offensive plays, managed 121 yards rushing on 47 attempts. DiMicco led the Cougars with 81 yards rushing on 26 attempts, without losing a yard. Kinney (pictured right) carried the ball 17 times for 45 yards.
Defensively, senior nose tackle Ray Wegrzynek with eight tackles, including three tackles for a loss of eight yards. Collectively, the Cougar defense had 10 tackles for a loss of 49 yards. Freshman Reginald Hodge-Grant had three tackles and his third interception in the last two games.
For Rowan, Bianchini finished 13-of-30 for 119 yards, despite having a hard time on snaps at the line of scrimmage due to the conditions. Eisenhart caught five passes for 55 yards.
The Rowan defense was led by Dean Hammel, who had 14 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Patrick Ruley had 10 tackles and one forced fumble.