The Rowan football team ended their season with a 38-20 victory over the University of New England Nor’Easters on their Senior Night last Friday, Nov. 11.
It was a tale of two halves for the Profs, as the team was able to establish the ground game early and averaged nearly six yards a carry for 256 yards as a result, but besides an opening drive touchdown, the team struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first half. Despite this, Head Coach Jay Accorsi wasn’t concerned about the team’s early performance.
“We knew we were going to be in for a big challenge,” Coach Accorsi said. “We knew they were going to be really good and sometimes you have to give the other team credit.”
With the offense struggling to find a rhythm, it was up to the defense to preserve a 10-3 lead. After a 22-yard passing touchdown on a fourth and seven, the game was tied up at 10-10 with 6:30 left in the second quarter.
“It was a good throw, but it was also part of what we weren’t doing. They definitely caught us off guard a little bit,” senior linebacker Mike Mascioli said. “I could have gotten back in my drop a little bit more, I was kind of getting after myself with that one. The quarterback did make a good throw, credit to him.”
Overall, the Profs’ first half could be described with one word — frustrating. The team had a golden opportunity to break the tie after a first and goal from inside the five-yard line with less than two minutes to go in the half, but a four-down goal line stop from New England kept the game knotted up at ten.
“Yeah of course it is [frustrating], but you don’t come here to tie,” Coach Accorsi said. “I just thought three points wasn’t going to win the game. I wanted to score and it didn’t work out, but sometimes those happen.”
It felt as if momentum had swung towards New England after that stop, but sophomore defensive back John Perez made the play of the game by picking off the Nor’Easters quarterback on the third play of the second half to swing it back to the Profs, who never looked back.
“When John Perez caught that ball, it was a little roller coaster of emotions that play,” Mascioli said. “I thought we had the sack at first and then he somehow got out of it and he threw the ball right behind me, and as soon as I turned around, John caught it, but I think that kind of brought us back.”
“It was awesome. That was awesome,” Coach Accorsi added. “John [Perez] made the nice pick and then we got the quick score. I thought that was huge, and again, our defense has played really well at the end of the year and they played really well today. That was the turning point in the game.”
After the interception, it was all Profs, as senior quarterback Mike Husni would end up throwing for three of the Profs’ four second-half touchdowns, two of which went to senior wideout John Maldonado.
“I throw it up, I know he’s coming down with it. The last big third-down conversion, John’s [Maldonado] an All-American type of player so if they want to guard him one-on-one, I don’t care what the down is, I don’t care what the situation is, we gotta give him a shot because honestly, ten out of ten times he’s coming down with it just like he did to get us in the end zone one last time to put the game away,” Husni said. “You can’t leave John one-on-one. You see teams putting three guys over him, so when we get that, we just have to take advantage of it and tonight we did.”
The Profs would end up getting the ball back with 13:30 left in the fourth, up four, and looked to Husni, Maldonado and James Fara to put the game away. The trio delivered and marched 75 yards on 11 plays to go up two scores and, more importantly, take seven minutes off the clock, which was Coach Accorsi’s main goal.
“Going into the wind, don’t give them many possessions,” Coach Accorsi said. “Try to chew the clock, try to get first downs and your playmakers are going to make plays.”
With the emotions of Senior Night and their final game running high post-game, Husni is grateful for his years in the yellow and brown, while his coach is thankful for all of the seniors’ efforts.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group and I couldn’t be more proud to be a Prof,” Husni said.
Now after following a disappointing 2021 season, the Profs have shown their ability to bounce back and build off last year, finishing with a 7-3 record in 2022 and leaving Coach Accorsi excited for the future of the program.
“I think we’re back,” Coach Accorsi said. “I think the program is building, we’re still really young. When you look at the roster, we’re still a lot of sophomores and juniors and freshmen, not a lot of seniors, so we’re still trying to get there from COVID and all that we had to face.”
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