WAYNE, N.J. (11/5/11) – The Kean University football team blanked William Paterson University, 45-0, in New Jersey Athletic Conference action on Saturday afternoon behind a balanced offensive attack and a defensive effort that limited the Pioneers to less than 100 yards of total offense.
The #16/17 Cougars (8-1, 7-1 NJAC) will face #17/20 Montclair State University in the regular season finale next week with the NJAC title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line.
The Cougars built a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, as senior quarterback Thomas D'Ambrisi and senior wide receiver Chris Suozzo (pictured left) connected on 21-yard and 39-yard touchdown passes and senior Billy Daniels connected on a 42-yard field goal following a Jerelle Peay interception at the WPU 31-yard line.
In the second quarter, the Cougars extended the lead to 24-0 when junior Darius Kinney capped a seven-play, 49-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run early in the period. On the ensuing Pioneer drive, freshman quarterback Joe Salame was sacked by freshman outside linebacker Matt Clerk on the third play of the drive, as Clerk forced the fumble that junior Brett Yajcaji recovered and ran it back 32-yards for the touchdown at the 31-0 lead with 10:36 remaining in the half.
Kean scored once more before halftime, taking advantage of a 45-yard punt return by junior T.J. Denehy to the Pioneer 29-yard line. The Cougars kept the ball on the ground, as senior Chris DiMicco went the final three yards for the touchdown and the 38-0 lead at the break.
The Cougars closed out the scoring in the final minute of the third quarter on the four-yard reception by Denehy for the 45-0 advantage and the team's first shutout in NJAC action since defeating the Pioneers 20-0 two years ago.
Kean scored on its first six possessions and did not punt the entire afternoon. The balanced Cougar offensive attack totaled 370 yards of total offense, with 236 coming on the ground.
Suozzo had four receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns and added a pair of rushes for 23 yards, while Denehy added four catches for 51 yards a touchdown. D'Ambrisi completed 9-of-15 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Sean McKee led seven rushers with at least 20 yards apiece, as he finished with 50 yards on eight carries. Kinney had a team-high 10 carries for 50 yards and a score.
The Cougar defense held William Paterson to just 98 yards of total offense, as they had 82 yards of rushing and 16 yards passing.
Junior Brad Higgins made a team-high nine tackles, while Clerk (pictured right) finished with four tackles, including two sacks for a 12 yard loss and the forced fumble.
For the second time in the last three seasons, the Cougars and Red Hawks square off in the regular season finale for the NJAC title and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Kean travels to Montclair State next Saturday, November 12, for a 1 p.m., kickoff.