Football Falls to Delaware Valley in Opener

 Football Falls in Season Opener to Delaware Valley

UNION, N.J. (9/12/09) - In a rematch of last year's Eastern College Athletic Conference South Atlantic Bowl Championship, the Kean University football team opened the 2009 season against Delaware Valley College.  The Aggies were once again victorious, defeating the host Cougars, 30-17, on a wet Saturday afternoon at Kean Alumni Stadium.

A much closer game than the final score indicated, the Cougars had a potential game-tying drive in the final minutes of the game, however senior defensive back Charles Squitiere (Philadelphia, Pa.) ended the threat with a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown with under a minute to go to put the Aggies up by two scores.  Last season, the Aggies defeated the Cougars, 16-7, to capture the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl Championship.

Junior running back Matt Cook (Selinsgrove, Pa.) finished with 151 yards rushing on 28 carries and sparked the Aggies with 43 yards rushing in a key fourth-quarter drive that put Delaware Valley ahead for good.

For the Cougars, sophomore quarterback Thomas D'Ambrisi (Eatontown, N.J.) completed 15-of-30 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore Jamahl Williams (Passaic, N.J.) (pictured right) had a team-high 13 tackles and one interception.

Trailing 10-0 after a sloppy first half, the Cougars scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter to take the lead at 14-10. 

On the kickoff to start the second half, senior Derric Harris (Freehold, N.J.) returned the ball 23 yards to give the Cougars good starting field position near midfield.  Three plays later on third and 14, D'Ambrisi connected with sophomore wide receiver T.J. Denehy (Monroe Township, N.J.), who raced down the sidelines for the 59-yard touchdown reception to trim the Aggie lead to 10-7 after the extra point less than two minutes into the quarter. 

The Cougars took advantage on special teams on the next Aggie possession, when Delaware Valley was unable to get the punt off and a host of Cougars tackled punter Corey Heard (Saylorsburg, Pa.) at the DVC 18-yard line. 

It took Kean just four plays to find the endzone, as D'Ambrisi completed the eight-yard pass to senior tight end Alex Cade (Galloway, N.J.) and sophomore Billy Daniels (Ridgefield, N.J.) converted the extra point for the 14-10 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

After neither team was able to do anything with their next possession, the Aggies gave the ball to Cook who opened up a drive with back-to-back runs of 18-yards and 16-yards to move the ball into Cougar territory.  Later in the drive, senior quarterback Mike Isgro (Galloway, N.J.) found a wide open Dan Heilan (Willow Grove, Pa.) along the Aggie sideline for the 21-yard touchdown reception, capping the seven-play, 75-yard drive that regained the lead for the Aggies at 17-14 with 1:13 to go in the quarter after the extra point by freshman Jake Sobchak (Whitehall, Pa.).

The Cougars responded with a 13-play drive of their own to tie the game.  D'Ambrisi connected with Cade (pictured left) on a pair of pass completions on the drive, including a key 17-yard completion on third and 10 to keep the drive alive, and the Cougars had first-and goal from the five-yard line before settling for the Daniels 19-yard field goal to tie the game at 17-17 with 9:31 to go.

Delaware Valley answered right back on the next possession, as Cook carried the ball five straight times for 39-yards to give the Aggies a fresh set of downs at the Kean 15-yard line.  Two plays later, sophomore running back Tyler Neal (Hershey, Pa.) scored the go-ahead touchdown on a three-yard run and the Sobchak extra point gave the Aggies the 24-17 lead with 5:26 remaining in the game. 

On the ensuing kickoff, Chunn returned the ball 19 yards to the Kean 38-yard line and a 12-yard pass completion to junior Matt Puorro (Point Pleasant, N.J.) on the first play of the drive gave the Cougars the ball at midfield. 

After an Aggie sack pushed the Cougars back into their territory, D'Ambrisi connected with Cade on third and 16 with a seven-yard completion to move the ball back into Aggie territory.  The Cougars went for it on fourth down, and D'Ambrisi again found Cade, this time for a 17-yard reception to give Kean a new set of downs at the Aggie 32-yard line. 

Chunn had a pair of rushes for 11 total yards and Cade had another 15-yard reception to help set-up a first-and 10 at the DVC 20-yard line with about 70 seconds remaining.  On the next play, Squitiere picked off D'Ambrisi and returned the ball 90-yards along the Aggie sideline for the touchdown with just 54 seconds remaining to seal the Aggie victory.   

In the first quarter, the Aggies looked to put the first points on the board on two separate occasions, however the Cougars escaped the threat after a dropped pass and a botched field goal attempt resulted in no points for Delaware Valley. 

The Aggies were finally able to put points on the board early in the second quarter, as Sobchak capped a 6-play, 19-yard drive with a 35-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead just 94 seconds into the quarter.

On the ensuing drive, Kean moved the ball into DVC territory on a 23-yard pass completion to Harris (pictured right), however a holding penalty later in the drive was too much to overcome and the Cougars were forced to punt.

Cook had three straight carries for the Aggies to open the drive and Isgro followed with a 62-yard pass completion to senior wide receiver Brandon Fox (Laureldale, Pa.) down to the Kean seven-yard line.  Two plays later, sophomore Isaiah Hall (Long Branch, N.J.) punched the ball in from five-yards out for the 10-lead.

On the kickoff, Harris returned the ball 25-yards near midfield and an Aggie penalty set the Cougars up with a first and 10 at the DVC 36-yard line.  After an incomplete pass on the first play of the drive, the Cougars handed the ball to junior transfer Jason Gwaltney (North Babylon, N.Y.) on back-to-back plays.  On the second rush, Gwaltney went 14 yards to give the Cougars a first down at the DVC 16-yard line, but left the game with an injury.  The Cougars were unable to get points on the board on the drive after a 33-yard field goal attempt was wide left. 

Cade finished with six receptions for 74 yards, while Harris added four catches for 39 yards.  On the ground, Chunn managed 41 yards on 17 carries.  Gwaltney  had 37 yards on eight carries before leaving the game with the second-quarter injury.

Defensively, junior Jordan Cagle (Mount Holly, N.J.) had 12 tackles, including a team-high eight unassisted tackles.

For Delaware Valley, Isgro finished with 133 yards passing on 10-of-20 completions.  Sophomore linebacker Chris James (Philadelphia, Pa.) led the Aggie defense with a game-high 15 tackles, while sophomore Ken Fowlkes (Voorhees, N.J.) added 10 tackles. 

The Cougars open New Jersey Athletic Conference play on Saturday, September 19, when they travel to Western Connecticut State University.  Kickoff is set for Noon.