Football Opens NJAC Slate With Win Over WestConn, 31-24

Football Opens NJAC Slate With Win Over WestConn, 31-24

DANBURY, Conn. (9/19/09) - Sophomore quarterback Thomas D'Ambrisi (Eatontown, N.J.) completed 15-of-26 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns, as the Kean University football team won its New Jersey Athletic Conference opener over Western Connecticut State University, 31-24, at the Westside Athletic Complex on Saturday afternoon. 

Senior tight end Alex Cade (Galloway, N.J.) had six receptions for a career-best 126 yards and two touchdowns for the Cougars (1-1, 1-0 NJAC), while sophomore Jamahl Williams (Passaic, N.J.) led the defense with eight tackles and his second interception in as many games this season.

The Cougars opened the scoring midway through the first quarter when D'Ambrisi found junior Matt Puorro (Point Pleasant, N.J.) (pictured right) from 22 yards out and the extra point by sophomore Billy Daniels (Ridgefield, N.J.) put Kean up 7-0. 

Just 26 seconds later, after the Cougar defense forced WestConn (0-2, 0-1 NJAC) into a three and out, Kean took the two touchdown lead when senior Chris Aquino (Somerville, N.J.) blocked the punt in the endzone and senior Jason Liberti (Cherokee, N.J.) recovered the ball for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead after the extra point conversion by Daniels.

WestConn trimmed the lead in half in the final minute of the first quarter, as junior tailback Wayne Neal (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) scored on a four-yard run to cap an 11-play, 69-yard drive with just 42 seconds remaining.

D'Ambrisi connected with Cade on back-to-back 17-yard touchdowns, the second of which came on the first play of the third quarter and gave the Cougars a 28-10 lead after a Williams 68-yard kickoff return put the Cougars in excellent field position at the WestConn 17-yard line.

With less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Neal scored on a two-yard run and the Colonial extra point would pull WestConn to within 28-17.

A Daniels' 40-yard field goal halfway through the final quarter extended the Cougar lead back to two touchdowns at 31-17, before WestConn senior quarterback James Williams (Wolcott, Conn.) scrambled in from eight yards out with just over four minutes left to put the final score at 31-24.

WestConn had one final drive starting at its own 43-yard line with 91 seconds remaining, and Williams completed four of his next passes, the last of which gave the Colonials a first-and-goal at the Kean six-yard line.  Two plays later, Kean junior linebacker Victor D'Arrigo (Staten Island, N.Y.) sacked Williams for a 13-yard loss to push the Colonials back and help seal the Cougars' first victory of the season.

Williams completed 20-of-35 passes for 182 yards, while freshman Tyler DeRosa (Miller Place, N.Y.) led the ground attack with seven carries for 29 yards for WestConn.  Steve Griffin (Old Tappan, N.J.) led the WestConn receivers with seven receptions for 55 yards. 

Junior defensive back Chris Lauda (Staten Island, N.Y.) (pictured left) finished with six solo tackles and three pass breakups, while sophomore Richard Esdaille (Neptune, N.J.) finished with seven tackles, including a sack for a loss of 10 yards. 

Kean remains on the road next week and heads to defending NJAC champs SUNY Cortland for 1 p.m. start.