Rowan football stand strong in conference, face Frostburg State in tough NJAC matchup

Sophomore quarterback Naldy Tavarez looks to avoid a defender last week in Rowan's home matchup against Southern Virginia University. The Profs return home this Saturday to face Frostburg State University. Photo Editor/Nicole Mingo

Rowan continues their flight to the top of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) standings after capturing their third-straight win to begin the 2017 season.

The Profs defeated William Paterson 41-14 on Saturday, keeping them in a three-way tie for first place in the conference.

It was a shut out of the Pioneers for the first 36:23 of the game as the score reached 34-0 until the first William Paterson contribution to the scoreboard. A combination of great field position and solid special teams play helped the brown and gold solidify an overall great performance against their NJAC rival.

“It was great to play well on offense, defense and special teams,” said head coach Jay Accorsi. “We played well in all aspects of the game and we made a few mistakes, but I was impressed with how well we played.”

Junior running back Anthony Diorio put on another show, posting 153 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Accorsi says the junior is not just a fantastic player, but a great student as well.

“Anthony [Diorio] is just a great kid,” Accorsi said. “He puts in the work in practice and in games, but also in the classroom as well. He is one of our best students on this team, and we are just happy to have him on our team and not on the other teams.”

Sophomore quarterback Naldy Tavarez threw his first touchdown of his college career towards the end of the first half on a 39-yard connection with junior wide receiver J.J. Kulcsar. Tavarez went 10-for-17 with 94 yards and the score. Kulcsar reeled in a career-high seven catches for 75 yards and a score.

“It felt really good to throw that first touchdown,” Talvarez said. “When you have guys like Anthony [Diorio] and J.J. [Kulcsar] around you, I just feel really good and try to stay comfortable. Those guys can make plays.”

Senior wide receiver Jamel Smith was named the NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week. He returned a punt 47 yards for a touchdown, and averaged 28.5 yards on two punt returns and returned a kickoff for 20 yards. He is only the second player in the New Jersey Athletic Conference to have a punt return for a touchdown this season.

One of the teams that the Profs are tied with for the conference lead is their opponent this week, Frostburg State University. The Bobcats used a late touchdown to propel them to a win at Christopher Newport University 33-30 on Saturday. This matchup serves as a vital game so early in the season, as both teams try to do their part in claiming sole possession of first place.

The key matchup to watch will be Rowan’s running game against the Bobcats’ top-run defense in all of Division III football. The Profs are averaging 170 yards per game which is good enough for third in the conference. However, Frostburg State has only given up an average of 11 yards per game through the first three weeks. That statistic can be countered, as the brown and gold have the best scoring and total defense in the conference.

“We match up with each other really well,” Accorsi said. “They have a dynamic quarterback over there which we will need to keep an eye on. But, it is a game in which we are going to have to go out and play well and limit our mistakes.”

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Coach Richard Wackar Stadium in Glassboro. 

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