UNION, NJ – Running back John Mannion scored on a two-yard run with one second remaining to give the Rowan University football team a 28-27 win at Kean University in the season finale on Saturday.
The Profs had the ball at their own 39 with 1:42 on the clock. On third-and-19 from the Rowan 45, quarterback Naldy Tavarez (so. North Bergen, NJ/Union City) hit wide receiver Jamel Smith (sr. Trenton, NJ/New Egypt) for a 13-yard gain to the Kean 42. Tavarez then found tight end Mika Graham (sr. Fords, NJ/Woodbridge) for a seven-yard completion on fourth down to move the sticks.
Rowan had a third-and-10 at the Cougars' 35-yard line and Tavarez connected with Smith again, this time for 28 yards. Kean was then called for pass interference on an incompletion, moving the ball to the two and setting up Mannion's winning score. The Profs end the season at 4-6 with a 3-6 mark in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). The Cougars finish with a 4-6 record and they went 4-5 in the NJAC.
Mannion (jr. Verona, NJ/James Caldwell) finished with 58 yards on 19 carries. He also made four receptions for 23 yards and a TD. Tavarez was 9-of-14 for 78 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Quinn Collins (so. Elk Twp., NJ/Delsea Reg.) also threw a TD pass. Smith caught five passes for 49 yards and a trip to the end zone.
Linebacker Chris Noesges (sr. Freehold, NJ/Manalapan) and defensive back Cory Hardy (so. Irvington, NJ/Columbia) each tallied nine tackles. Defensive back Joe DiBari (so. Cedar Grove, NJ/Cedar Grove) recorded five stops and an interception. Defensive back Nate Lanier (so. Sicklerville, NJ/Woodbridge) and linebacker Anthony Morisi (fr. Ramsey, NJ/Suffern (NY)) also picked off one pass apiece. The Rowan defense forced five turnovers in the contest.
Kean running back Damian Corredor (sr. Weehawken, NJ/Weehawken) rushed for 192 yards on 31 attempts and also made five catches. Quarterback Charles App (sr. Staten Island, NY/New Dorp) went 14-for-21 for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver David Patterson (so. Lakewood, NJ/Lakewood) had two touchdown receptions and wideout Ben Guarino (sr. Caldwell, NJ/James Caldwell) caught one TD.
Linebacker Darin Hungerford (sr. Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) totaled a game-high 10 tackles and one fumble recovery. Linebacker DeShawn Reed (so. Jersey City, NJ/Hoboken) produced nine stops, 2.5 for a loss, and a forced fumble. Defensive back Louie Zambardino (jr. Suffern, NY/Suffern) registered eight tackles, one fumble recovery and one interception.
The Profs had the ball in Kean territory on their first drive. Rowan threw an interception but the Cougars fumbled it back to the Profs. Kicker Tyler Knighton (sr. Gibbstown, NJ/Paulsboro) followed with a 31-yard field goal to put Rowan ahead, 3-0 (8:56). The kick gave Knighton his 37th field goal of his career, which is a school record.
The Cougars were forced to punt on their opening drive and linebacker Greg Cooper (so. Byram, NJ/Lenape Valley Reg.) blocked the kick to set the Profs up on the Kean two-yard line. Running back Anthony Diorio (jr. Medford, NJ/Shawnee) ran it in on the first play and Rowan led 10-0 (6:36).
Lanier picked off App on the Cougars' next possession and the Profs capitalized with a 14-play, 56-yard drive. Collins found Mannion for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The extra point attempt failed and the score was 16-0 with 13:39 left in the second quarter. Kean benefitted from a Rowan fumble for its first points. The Cougars went 60 yards on six plays, culminating in a nine-yard TD from App to Patterson, and cut the deficit to 16-7 (6:44).
After a punt by the Profs, Kean needed just four plays to reach the end zone. Corredor had a 33-yard run and App tossed a 30-yard scoring strike to Guarino, making the score 16-14 (2:45) heading into halftime.
The Cougars took the lead on their first drive of the second half. They went 62 yards on 12 plays and kicker Marcin Zadlo (fr. Elmwood Park, NJ/Memorial) converted a 33-yard field goal attempt to put Kean ahead 17-16 (8:30). Zadlo increased the Kean lead (20-16) with a 34-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Rowan punted on its next possession and the Cougars added to their margin. App hooked up with Patterson for a 24-yard touchdown and Kean had a 27-16 advantage (10:32). The Profs responded with a 16-play, 76-yard drive to close the gap to five (27-22) with 3:24 on the clock. Tavarez found Smith in the end zone from four yards out and the two-point conversion failed. The Rowan defense forced a Cougars' punt on the next drive, setting the stage for the Profs' final possession.