September 30, 2011

#10 Kean Hangs on for 7-6 Win Over TCNJ

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UNION, N.J. (9/30/11) – Kean University blocked a field goal with less than a minute remaining to preserve a 7-6 win over The College of New Jersey in New Jersey Athletic Conference action on Friday evening.

The #10/13 Cougars (4-0, 3-0 NJAC) remain undefeated, as they hand TCNJ (3-1, 2-1 NJAC) its first loss of the season.

Senior Chris DiMicco scored Kean's lone touchdown with a two-yard run in the first quarter. 

With less than three minutes remaining in the game, TCNJ took over at its own 37-yard line following the Cougar punt.  A face-mask penalty moved the Lions into Cougar territory, before back-to-back carries by quarterback James Donoghue set-up first-and-10 just inside the red zone.  Running back Joe Falco then carried the ball three times for 11 total yards, the last of which gave the Lions fourth-and-five at the Kean 8-yard line.  On the ensuing 25-yard field goal by Tyler Olsson, the Cougars tipped the ball at the line to seal the win, as Kean took a knee on the game's final play. 

After the two teams traded turnovers on each of their opening possessions, the Cougars would score their only touchdown of the game on the ensuing drive.  Senior quarterback Thomas D'Ambrisi carried the ball 10-yards on the first play of the drive, before connecting with junior Matt Pitarresi on the 16-yard reception for a first down at the TCNJ 26-yard line.  A D'Ambrisi seven-yard rush moved the Cougars into the red zone and a 17-catch by junior T.J. Denehy set-up first-and-goal at the two-yard line, where DiMicco capped the drive with the two-yard scoring run one play later. 

The extra point by Billy Daniels gave the Cougars the 7-0 lead and moved Daniels into a tie as the program's all-time leader in PATs made with 70. 

Kean and TCNJ would punt a combined seven times on the next eight drives, with TCNJ taking over at their own 39-yard line midway through the second quarter. 

The Lions would follow with their longest drive of the game, with Donoghue completing four passes for 36 yards and the Lions taking advantage of a pass interference call against the Cougars to set-up first and goal at the Kean five-yard line.  Three plays later, junior Matthew Rosati carried the ball in from six-yards out for the touchdown, however the Lions went for two following a low snap on the point after attempt and Kean junior Will Evans stopped holder Matt Della-Croce just outside the goal line to keep the score at 7-6.

The Cougars looked to extend the lead twice with a pair of 47-yard field goal attempts by Daniels, however the first one at the end of the second quarter was blocked as the half ended and his third quarter attempt fell short. 

TCNJ had another red zone scoring opportunity late in the third quarter after Donoghue completed three passes for 21 yards and added 25 yards rushing, however Kean junior Brett Yacjaji intercepted the Donoghue pass at the 10-yard line to end the drive.

After the Cougars were forced to punt following a three-and-out on their next drive to start the fourth quarter, TCNJ again had a red-zone opportunity.  This time, 18-yard field goal from Olsson was wide right and the Cougars took over at their own 20-yard line. 

TCNJ and Kean posted nearly identical numbers on offense, as TCNJ had 95 yards rushing and 250 yards of total offense.  The Cougars had 89 yards rushing and 241 yards of total offense, but were penalized 14 times for 166 yards. 

D'Ambrisi completed 14-of-28 passes for 152 yards, while DiMicco led the ground attack with 50 yards rushing on 17 carries. 

Defensively, senior linebacker Richard Esdaile made 10 total tackles, including five tackles for a loss of 13 yards.  Esdaile now has 27 tackles for a loss in his career, moving him into fourth place in program history.  Junior Jerelle Peay and senior Bekim Bujari each added nine tackles.

For the Lions, Donoghue completed 21-of-33 passes for 150 yards, with junior wide receiver Brian Mills catching nine passes for 83 yards.  Falco gained 40 yards on 14 rushing attempts.

On defense, sophomore linebacker Nick Bricker, junior linebacker Greg Burns and senior defensive end John Kinzel each made 10 stops and a combined six tackles for a loss of 19 yards.  Strong safety Shawn Brown made a pair of interceptions, including a diving pick on the first play of the game. 

The Cougars return to action on Saturday, October 8, when they host Buffalo State College in NJAC action at 1 p.m.

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