Rowan Football defeats final NJAC opponent of the season

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James Fara runs the ball. Fara ran for 124 yard against Montclair State. Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. - Staff Photgrapher / Tyrese Williams

Revenge was on Rowan football’s mind on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 5, competing against Montclair State University exactly one week after the Profs dropped their battle against Salisbury University. This was also a game that completed a six-game stretch of New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play for the brown and gold. They ended on a good note, defeating the Red Hawks by a final score of 27-7.

Montclair State came into this one with a 2-6 record while also riding a five-game losing streak. Head Coach Jay Accorsi’s team was able to put last week’s tough loss behind them and take care of business against the Red Hawks.

“We were just trying to get back on track,” Coach Accorsi said. “Get that feeling of disappointment out, create new memories. I thought the guys did a great job, that’s the most dominant we’ve played in a really long time. It couldn’t have come at a better time, I know we’re all extremely disappointed about last week, but last week is over. I couldn’t be more proud, we played really well in all facets. Their record doesn’t show it, but they’re a really good team. I’m just really proud of how the players came out and played.”

Coming into this one, the Profs had endured some struggles against Montclair State in recent years, including a five-game losing streak dating back to 2016. Coach Accorsi claims the team used that as fuel to come out and dominate on their home field.

“We talked about that with Salisbury, not playing well against them for several years, and we talked about the same thing with Montclair,” Coach Accorsi said. “We haven’t played well against them in many years, and we needed to get back on track and play good-solid-tough-hard-nosed Rowan football. I thought we did that today.”

One of the main differences between this week’s and last week’s game is the Profs’ efficiency in the run game. After being bottled up for just 69 yards and a 3.7 average yards per carry against Salisbury, running back James Fara exploded for 125 yards on 19 carries, while also finding the end zone against Montclair State.

Even though Fara had a big bounce back game, he doesn’t believe establishing the run was a main part of the game plan in this one.

“I think more of a point of emphasis was to throw the ball,” Fara said. “When we throw it more, the run opens up. Lately, except for last week, but before that we were probably throwing it 13 times, which you can’t really do. But we had a really good gameplan coming in, but they sucked, so it wasn’t really that hard.”

Fara got off to a hot start in this one, ripping a 50-yard run on the game’s first drive, kickstarting what would be a huge day for him. That run gave him all the confidence he needed for the rest of the game.

“It definitely helps,” Fara said. “Especially since the first couple runs of the game are slower, looking at reads and just getting used to the game speed. But, again, they suck so it was pretty easy after that.”

The one big play that swung the momentum completely in the direction of the Profs occurred on the defensive end early in the second quarter, when defensive back Eric Bryant jumped a route, picked off a pass from Mason Murdock and took it 80 yards all the way to the end zone. 

Bryant dedicated his first collegiate touchdown to someone very special.

“For my hometown, number one,” Bryant said. “For my dad, my dad passed away during the COVID year. So I scored that touchdown for him. And my team, nobody’s gotten a pick-six this year, so I felt like I had to be the first one.”

Overall, the Profs defense looked elite yet again, something that’s become a theme for the unit in recent weeks. After a bit of a rough start to the season, Bryant spoke about what the biggest difference is in the defense now compared to the start of the year.

“The beginning of the season, we were just getting started,” Bryant said. “We knew each other from last year, so we knew how to play with each other. But then, towards the end of the season, we started to groove, know our scheme, know everything we had to do. Coach Dawkins [Defensive Coordinator Cedric Dawkins] tells us, we gotta win our one-on-one matchups. Whatever we do, we have to win that matchup.”

Coach Accorsi backed up his player’s statement and had high praise for the defensive unit.

“They’re just more experienced, they understand their roles, they understand what the coaches are asking them to do,” Coach Accorsi said. “I think the coaches have done a great job of really guiding them along. We knew the offense was going to be ahead, and we had to try and guide the defense and hopefully, we’d pick up at some point, and it did today. They’re just playing at a really high level. Today was a statement game for us.”

The Profs now sit at a healthy 6-3, including a 4-2 clip in conference play. They will look to keep the momentum rolling under the Friday night lights on Nov. 11, when New England College comes to town for Rowan’s last regular season game of the year. That game will also be senior night and military appreciation night at Richard Wackar Stadium in Glassboro.

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