Rowan Football Gets Their Revenge Against Springfield College

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John Maldonado makes a touchdown catch. Maldonado caught the winning touchdown pass this past weekend against Springfield. Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. - Multimedia Editor / Lee Kotzen

Fresh off of a big, week-one win for Rowan Football against Widener University– a team that got the best of the Profs last season– Head Coach Jay Accorsi and company faced off against Springfield College on Saturday, Sept. 10, who also defeated the Profs in the 2021 season.

For the second straight week, this year’s result was much different. Behind a dominant offensive performance, the Profs bested the Pride, 38-35.

Although Rowan ultimately won the game, the beginning of the contest felt much like we were taking a trip back to last season. The Profs did not back down, however. After falling into an early 14-0 hole in the first quarter, the Profs continued to fight and stay in the game.

“You gotta play four quarters of football,” Coach Accorsi said. “Obviously, on special teams, we made some critical mistakes to put us in that situation. Luckily, we were able to rebound. Special teams are going to be critical for us.”

Coming into this contest, one of the main storylines was how the Profs defense would be able to stop Springfield’s run-heavy, triple-option attack. While allowing 35 points, Springfield also ran for 360 yards.

Both Coach Accorsi and defensive tackle Ahmad Gantt, who led the Profs with ten total tackles in this game, chimed in on the defensive effort against the Pride.

“At times, we slowed them down, we got some stops when we needed to,” Accorsi said. “They’re really good at what they do, they got out to a quick jump start… Overall, not bad. Obviously, much better than we did last year. There’s still work to be done, but I thought it was a good, overall effort defensively.”

“We came back collectively, as a team,” Gantt said. “We just played as one. We didn’t stop no matter what they did. Big plays, penalties, no matter what, we still came out there and did what we had to do to get the win.”

As previously mentioned, Rowan’s offense put on a clinic in this one. Reigning New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Offensive Player of the Week, Mike Husni, threw for a career-high, five touchdowns to go along with 316 passing yards. Running backs James Fara and Jajuan Hayes rushed for a combined 155 yards on 22 carries (7.0 YPC) and the Prof’s top receiving weapon, John Maldonado, had a career day, as well, tallying nine catches for 115 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.

Tight end CJ Barrett also chipped in with four catches, 71 yards and a touchdown. Fara dipped his hand into the receiving game, hauling in a screen pass from Husni and taking it 95 yards to the house.

“Going into the week, we knew they were a two-high team. We were expecting them to play over the top on us, but we were able to get a lot of one-on-one looks, especially to the field side,” Maldonado said. “Their safeties were staying in the box and we were just able to take advantage of that, getting one-on-one matchups with their corners.”

Overall, there were not as many rushing opportunities for Profs running backs as there were against Widener in week one. Coach Accorsi claims that this is because Springfield gave the Profs some different looks compared to Widener.

“Their safeties were in the box, trying to stop the run,” Coach Accorsi said. “Any time they do that, they’re going to leave us open to be able to throw the ball. That’s the game we’re going to play all year long. The nice part is we can go in and win in a variety of different ways. We can run the ball, throw the ball, mix it up. We can go up-tempo, we can go slow-tempo. You just have to see what a defense tries to do and what their game plan is.”

Late in the fourth quarter, Springfield held a 35-31 advantage on the Profs. That was until Husni marched his team down the field and threw the go-ahead touchdown to Maldonado with 1:02 left to go in the game.

“Leading up to that, we had run the ball for good ten, five-yard pops, so I think they were anticipating us to just punch it in,” Maldonado said. “I gave myself a lot of room, lined up to the field side on the hash to give ‘Hus’ [Husni] a lot of room to throw the ball out there… I could just feel that he was gonna throw the ball up and let me make a play on it. Really exciting because it was a hard game, 14-0 early, and then we were down late during that drive, so it was just a relief that we finally got over the hump of a comeback win.”

The game was not under wraps after Maldonado’s big play, however. The Profs’ defense needed to come up big with Springfield getting the ball back and they did not disappoint, icing the game after an AJ Kirvin interception.

“It was just about getting to the ball, and getting there fast,” Gantt said in reference to the team’s final possession on defense. “Just doing what we had to do to stop them from getting even a first down. We made them just collapse at the end.”

Looking ahead for the Profs, an early bye week is on its way. Even with the time off, Accorsi is looking for his team to keep their foot on the pedal during the upcoming week.

“They were talking about Salve right after the game against Springfield,” Accorsi said. “It’s not an off week, it’s a work week. We have another opportunity in two weeks to play a team that we lost to last year, similar to our first two games. So that’s our goal, to come in and be prepared.”

Gantt echoed his coach’s statement.

“Definitely staying fresh, staying focused,” Gantt said. “There’s no stop no matter what. 2-0, that doesn’t mean anything to us. Right now, we’re still 0-0 every week, every game.”

When the Profs return to the field, it will be on Saturday, Sept. 24, against Salve Regina. This will mark the first game at Coach Richard Wackar Stadium of the season.

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