Football Upends TCNJ in NJAC Finale, 37-27
KEAN UPENDS TCNJ IN NJAC FINALE, 37-27
UNION, N.J. (11/10/07) - Senior quarterback A.J. Roque (Matawan, N.J.) threw five touchdown passes and became the New Jersey Athletic Conference all-time passing leader to lead the Kean University football team to a 37-27 victory over NJAC leader The College of New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.
The Kean victory (5-5 overall, 3-4 NJAC) hands the Lions their only conference loss of the season and forces TCNJ into a share of the NJAC Championship with SUNY Cortland. The Lions (8-2 overall, 6-1 NJAC) earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tourney by virtue of the 30-0 TCNJ victory over Cortland earlier this season.
Kean records back-to-back non-losing seasons for first time since 1992 through 1994 and for just the second time in program history.
Roque finished the game with 272 yards giving him a school-record 2,463 yards this season and 8,448 career passing yards to break the NJAC record of 8,408 yards set by Ed Collins of Montclair State University from 1999 through 2001.
The Cougars took an early lead on the game's opening possession, as senior Jon Robinson (Brick, N.J.) capped a nine play, 72-yard drive with a 27-yard field goal less than three minutes into the game.
After the two teams exchanged punts, TCNJ took the ball 52 yards on six plays as sophomore wide receiver Cam Richardson (Burlington, N.J.) had a five-yard touchdown reception from sophomore quarterback Christopher James (Brick, N.J.) with 6:29 left in the opening quarter to take the 7-3 lead.
Kean regained the lead for good on its next possession when Roque completed the 11-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Durell Dukes (Elizabeth, N.J.) with just under four minutes left in the first quarter. Senior Brian Williams (Pleasantville, N.J.) set the scoring drive up with a when he returned the ball 51 yards to the TCNJ 35-yard line.
After TCNJ turned the ball over on downs to open the second quarter, Kean junior wide receiver James Felton (Plainfield, N.J.) had a 58-yard touchdown reception from Roque just four plays later to extend the Cougar lead to 17-7.
Kean added another touchdown later in the half for the 23-7 advantage, when senior defensive end Brian Cilento (Dunellen, N.J.) intercepted a James pass and returned the ball 46 yards to the TCNJ 21-yard line to set-up the 17-yard touchdown pass from Roque to Williams with 5:41 left in the second quarter.
The Lions looked to shift momentum in their favor just two plays into the second half, when they cut the deficit to 23-14 on the 49-yard touchdown pass from James to Richardson only 50-seconds into the third quarter.
Neither team managed to find the end zone for the remainder of the third quarter, as the two teams combined for three turnovers. Two of the turnovers were costly to TCNJ, as Kean senior Ryan Staton (Mays Landing, N.J.) recovered a fumble forced by senior Clarence Goodman (Old Bridge, N.J.) at the Kean 14-yard line and rookie Chuck Core (Mays Landing, N.J.) intercepted the James pass at the Kean five-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, Roque completed the 34-yard pass to Williams on the first play of the fourth quarter to cap the 13-play, 95-yard drive that consumed more than seven minutes of game time spanning the final two quarters for the 30-14 lead.
TCNJ cut the deficit to ten points at 30-20 following a James 20-yard touchdown run before Kean pushed the lead right back to 17 points on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Roque to Dukes with 9:08 remaining in the game for the 37-20 lead. On the play, Roque also broke the NJAC career passing record and gave the senior his school record fifth touchdown of the game and 65th touchdown of his career.
The Lions added one more touchdown in the game when senior running back Dan Dornacker (Jersey City, N.J.) punched the ball in from the one-yard line with just under six minutes remaining to put the final score at 37-27.
Dukes finished with 125 yards and two touchdowns, while his five receptions give him a school-record 53 catches this season. On the ground, sophomore running back Jared Chunn (Tinton Falls, N.J.) had 80 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Defensively, Goodman finished with a game-high 10 tackles, including seven solo stops, while Cilento added three tackles, an interception and his sixth forced fumble of the season. Coming into today's game, Cilento led the nation with five forced fumbles in nine games.
Junior outside linebacker Jake Pew (Vernon, N.J.) had six tackles and one fumble recovery, while Core had three tackles and a pair of interceptions.
For TCNJ, James completed 12-of-38 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns and added 68 yards rushing. On the receiving end, Richardson had four receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore Austin Misiura (Holmdel, N.J.) had four receptions for 65 yards.
Senior defensive back Andrew Larkin (Hamilton Square, N.J.) had a team-high seven tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss, while senior defensive lineman Joe King (Mountainside, N.J.) had six tackles, including one and a half tackles for a loss of six yards. As a team, the Lions finished with 11 tackles for a loss of 51 yards.
The Lions await the NCAA tournament selections tomorrow afternoon to find out their next opponent, while the Cougars are eligible for a possible ECAC bowl bid and await the announcement of those match-ups on Monday.