EWING, NJ — The College of New Jersey turned back the time.
But this Lions team was nothing like the Lions teams of the past few years. The much improved Lions were able to beat the Red Hawks, 27-21, yesterday afternoon at Lions Stadium.
“We knew No. 7 or not, they are one of our biggest rivals,” said Lions senior quarterback James Donoghue. “We are in the game almost every time that we play them. We had a disappointing loss last week, so we figured we could come out after our strong week of practice and shock them.”
With the win, the Lions were able to beat the Red Hawks for the first time since 2007. In that year’s game, the Lions won 19-9.
“I’ve been waiting for this one,” said Donoghue. “It has been a long time since 2007, which was the last time we won the NJAC, so hopefully, if we win the rest of these games, we have a shot.”
After the 1998 season, the Lions have only beat the Red Hawks three times. They won in 2004, 2007, and yesterday’s contest.
From 1994 to 1998, the Lions had a four game win streak against the Red Hawks.
It was also the first time since the 2009 season that the Lions scored in their homecoming game. They were shut out 37-0 last year by SUNY-Cortland.
In the loss, the Red Hawks suffered their first loss of the season. They will likely drop from the No. 7 ranking in the American Football Coaches Association poll.
The Red Hawks are now 6-1 on the season, with Western Connecticut State University coming to Montclair next week. The Lions are 5-2 on the season, with a game vs. SUNY Cortland next week in Cortland, New York.
“We knew the conference was going to be a dog fight,” said TCNJ head coach Eric Hamilton. “And the way we played last week, we played ourselves out. But after this win, we played ourselves back in. You have to take it one-game at a time mindset into every game. Next, we have to go to Cortland – and they’re very good.”
Both teams traded punts for much of the fourth quarter, but just a few minutes into the quarter, the Lions scored. Donoghue hit senior Joe Falco for a 7-yard touchdown pass.
The Lions took the lead on the play. The Lions went up 27-21, the final score.
The third quarter was the dominated by Chris D’Andrea, the Montclair State running back. He gave the Red Hawks a one- point lead on a two-yard touchdown reception from Drew Cathey, who started in place of Tom Fischer, who is injured, to make it 21-20.
Minutes earlier, he broke lose from the TCNJ defense. Once he broke away from the Lions defense at the line of scrimmage, D’Andrea rushed down the sideline untouched into the end zone.
The 58- yard rushing touchdown made it 20-14.
“We didn’t execute,” said Hamilton. “Everybody has to do their job, but when they don’t, he gets lose for a big run. But when they do their job, we stop him three straight times on the goal line.”
The Lions led at halftime, 20-7.
Right before halftime, Falco rushed 11 yards to increase the Lions lead to 20-7.
Lions kicker Tyler Olsson also added a 21-yard field goal in the second.
At 4:41 left in the first, Donoghue struck again. Instead of throwing a touchdown pass, he used his legs to score a 1- yard touchdown. The Lions went up 10-7 after the touchdown.
Shortly after the Lions field goal, the Red Hawks took their first lead of the game. D’Andrea broke through the Lions defense and rushed 58-yards into the end zone.
The Red Hawks went up 10-3 at that point in the game.
“He’s the best or one of the best players in the conference right now,” said Donoghue. “I think he’s third nationally in rushing yards. He’s a great player, so we knew we had to key on him.”
The Lions scored the first points in the game. Olsson kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Lions a 3-0 lead.
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Anthony Caruso III by The Capital Sports Report is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License. Based on work at www.thecapitalsportsreport.com
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