Offense explodes for Rowan Football’s first win of the season

Nick Cerulli gets ready to make a play. Cerulli recorded a 47 yard pick six in Rowan's win against McDaniel. - Photo / Rowan Athletics

On Saturday, Sept. 9, the Rowan Profs traveled down to Maryland for a game against McDaniel in hopes of bouncing back after a disappointing 20-17 loss to Stevenson University in Week 1.

The Profs responded to last week’s loss with a big offensive explosion, ending the first half up 35-7 and winning the game 49-28 against McDaniel, earning their first win of the season and improving to an overall record of 1-1.

“We tackled better, blocked better, and played better overall compared to last week,” Head Coach Jay Accorsi said. “McDaniel tried sending heavy pressure, which you’re gonna do to a young inexperienced QB but Thomas made sure to make them pay.”

The aforementioned sophomore quarterback, Thomas Goldsborough, looked like a seasoned vet in his first start, completing 11 of his 16 passes for 252 yards and three touchdown passes, all of which occurred in the second quarter.

Goldsborough was dicing up McDaniel’s defense all day with passes such as a 38-yard pass to junior wide receiver Issac Jean-Baptiste and a pass to junior wide receiver Kevin Degan who took off for a 97-yard touchdown to end the first half for the profs. 

This performance awarded the sophomore quarterback with the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Player of the Week award, but to Goldsborough, the focus for him is not on individual awards.

“It’s definitely a great accomplishment for me but I try not to focus on it too much. I’m more worried about the win than anything” Goldsborough said. “ I feel like self-accolades are a bonus… I’m trying to move on and play like this every week.”

Even with the Profs’ success of moving the ball in the air, Coach Accorsi wanted to establish the ground game and with the Profs being without their senior running back, James Fara, for the game, he called on the young backs to step up in Fara’s absence and they delivered.

The freshman duo of Nunes Bukula IV and Tyshawn Bookman ran rampant on the ground against McDaniel’s defense with Bukula IV racking up 62 yards and two touchdowns and Bookman recording 54 yards and a touchdown of his own. The performance by Bukula IV awarded him with the NJAC Offensive Rookie of the Week honors.  

“Nunes and Bookman did a great job… It was very encouraging that even though we were missing our All-Conference First Team running back James Fara, we were still able to run the ball well with the young players,” Accorsi said.

While the Profs’ success on the ground eventually helped lead to points, Goldsborough says that it helped take their air attack to a new level, and emphasized the importance of establishing the run game early.

“For any team to have a good run game it opens up the passing game and the offense as a whole,” Goldsborough said. “Being able to have multiple backs come into the game and produce at a high level, opens up so many opportunities for me.”

The defense for the Profs had a really big first half in this game. Despite a 69-yard touchdown pass from McDaniel QB Grinwis Eric to WR Marsh Logan in the first quarter, McDaniel struggled to get anything going after and only had that one touchdown to show at halftime. 

McDaniel however did get it going in the second half, at one point cutting the score from 35-7 to 35-22.

“I think we had some lools offensively and defensively in the third quarter,” Accorsi said “However it was the second week in a row we’ve had a pick-six and this time by a different player.” 

This time it was linebacker Nick Cerulli who recorded the Profs’ fourth interception of the game, returning this one 47 yards into the end zone to extend Rowan’s lead to 49-22 and ultimately put the game out of reach. Junior defensive back Jason Blanks, freshman defensive back Bryce Kramer, and junior linebacker Cody Young also had interceptions of their own for the Profs.

In addition to a strong day from the secondary, freshman Carter Williams had himself a career game with three total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and a forced fumble. This performance awarded Williams with NJAC Defensive Rookie of The Week honors. 

The Profs will look to build off this momentum as they return to Richard Wackar Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 16, where they will hope to win their first home game of the season against the visiting 2-0 Bears of Ursinus College.

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