Rowan Football Comes out Strong Against Widener University in Season Opener

Mike Husni hands off the ball. Husni led his team to victory on Saturday and earned himself weekly NJAC honors. Saturday, September 4, 2021. - Photo / Joey Nicolo

Rowan football opened their 2021 season with a disappointing loss to the Widener Pride that painted the picture of how the rest of the year would go. This time around, in 2022, the Profs flipped the switch and put forth a dominating effort, defeating Widener University 42-20 in their season opener on Saturday, Sept. 3.

“The offense played really well,” Head Coach Jay Accorsi said, following the win. “We talked about that being the more experienced side of the ball for us, an experienced offensive line, senior quarterback, John Maldonado a senior wide receiver, CJ Barrett a senior tight end… Just a lot of players back who have played a lot of football for us.

“They really set the tone early… In the run game, they didn’t really stop us at any point in the game… just a really dominant performance out of the offense.”

The previously mentioned John Maldonado and quarterback Mike Husni had their connection on point in Saturday’s game. During the first half, Maldonado reeled in five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. How Maldonado and the rest of the offense attacked the young Widener secondary was a big part of the game plan coming in.

“Our game plan was to physically dominate them, whether that was running the ball or throwing the ball, and I feel like that’s what we did,” Maldonado said. “Up front, our big guys did a hell of a job. [They] won the line of scrimmage almost every single play, and that opened up everyone else on every play for the offense.”

Despite Maldonado dominating, the Profs offense was run-heavy for the entire afternoon. James Fara handled 18 carries for 72 yards and had two total touchdowns, Jajuan Hays ran nine times for 79 yards, and Kyrin Rhone ran six times for 36 yards and a touchdown. Husni got in on the action as well with six runs for 47 yards and a touchdown.

Coach Accorsi claims that opponents and fans can expect a run-heavy approach from the offense more often than not moving forward.

“You always want the player to be productive, but you don’t wanna overuse them,” Accorsi said. “We have a lot of players and you have to be able to use them all… You have to think about the nine games that follow this game.”

Husni had a great season debut, completing 12-16 of his passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The performance earned him New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Offensive Player of the Week honors.

“It’s a great honor. It’s not just me, though,” Husni said. “When a quarterback gets an award like that it’s more of an offensive effort, I wouldn’t be able to do it without them… I’m happy I got the award, it’s an honor– but now it’s time to focus on Springfield.”

Springfield College is a much different opponent than Widener, especially on the offensive end, with Springfield running a triple-option attack. Accorsi and Maldonado explained how they have been preparing for their upcoming opponent.

“Springfield’s secondary is a little bit more experienced,” Maldonado said. “They’re guys that played against us last year, so they know how our team operates. They’re gonna be a little more savvy out there, a little more on their toes knowing what we’re going to give them. They’re a little more physical, they like to get more hands-on. I think we can use that against them.”

“You have to treat it differently, it is a different type of offense that you don’t normally see,” Accorsi added. “And the reason we got Springfield was so that we could be prepared for Salisbury down the road in conference, so there’s always other reasons why you do things than what people see in the immediate future.”

It was a strong start to the season for Accorsi and company, but the marathon is just beginning. The Profs will look to tackle the second hurdle of their season when they head to face the Springfield Pride on Saturday, Sept. 10, at noon.

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