UNION, N.J. (10/19/13) – The Kean University football team fell to William Paterson University 21-20 in a classic homecoming duel at Kean Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Kean racked up 341 yards of offense and averaged over 30 yards per completion on the day.
Kean kicker Bill Cullen opened the scoring with 3:51 to go in the first quarter after a seven play/49 yard drive. The kick was set up by a 51-yard pass from quarterback Robert Meade III to Tahj Hammary down to the William Paterson 17 yard line. The kick was the only scoring of the opening corner.
The Cougars began the second quarter driving, and after nine plays and 52 yards had pushed the ball to the Pioneer one-yard line. Meade took the keeper and plunged into the endzone for the game's first touchdown that gave the hosts a 10-0 lead.
The Pioneers answered back with a touchdown of their own on their next drive, however, and cut the Cougar lead back down to three; Ryan Gresik hit Julian Frazier in the endzone for an eight-yard TD to cap the drive.
Late in the first half, Cougar running back Sean McKee broke a 29-yard run that set up another Cullen field goal with 21 seconds remaining in the second quarter, and Kean took a 13-7 advantage into the locker room.
After the break, the Cougar defense stopped WPU's opening possession and Kean took over at its own 20. Another long pass to Hammary – this one was 57 yards – put the Cougars back in the red zone. Kean used a well-executed halfback pass from Damian Corredor to Prince Stewart to punch the ball in and extend its lead to 20-7.
William Paterson answered again with a touchdown of its own; Gresik threw to Mike Vannucci for the score that kept the Pioneers in the game. On their next possession, Gresik and Frazier hooked up again for a go-ahead touchdown that made the score 21-20 with 14:20 to go in the fourth quarter.
Kean had a chance to re-take the lead in the endgame. Again, the opportunity was set up by a bomb to Hammary for a gain of 47 yards. The freshman would finish the game with 155 receiving yards. But the drive stalled at the WPU seven-yard line, and William Paterson's Kell'E Gallimore blocked the go-ahead field goal attempt with 4:42 left on the scoreboard. The Pioneers earned a pair of first downs to run out the clock and earn the nail-biting victory.
Linebacker Bob Klecha (pictured left) was all over the field for Kean and made 10 tackles, including eight solos to lead the Cougar defense. Stephan Lewis and Dwayne Brown had six tackles each, and Matt Jamison had the only sack for Kean on the day.
Punter Nicholas Fuentes (pictured right) had a remarkable day for the Cougars; he downed three punts inside the 20-yard line (two inside the 10), including a long of 67 yards that was downed at the WPU 3-yard line.
There were a slew of penalties called in the contest; the teams combined for 20 flags and 175 penalty yards. Kean is now 1-5 and 0-3 in the NJAC, while WPU raised its record to 3-4 and 1-3 in the league.
The Cougars will hit the road for an NJAC contest against The College at Brockport next Saturday at 1 p.m.