By Anthony Caruso III
The Capital Sports Report
Owner/Managing Editor/ Sr. Writer
Ewing – Lions Stadium has been on The College of New Jersey’s campus for 30-years.
And for the first time since the stadium opened, there is a new head coach walking the sidelines this season for football season. Wayne Dickens coached his first game at the venue since being named interim head football coach in late July.
Dickens coached the Lions, as they fell against the FDU-Florham Devils, 18-12, last night at Lions Stadium.
“It’s disappointing to lose a game when you could have easily won the game if we didn’t have self-inflected wounds,” said Dickens. “We can’t afford to make mistakes, especially the mistakes that we made [last night]. When you make those kinds of mistakes, they come back to haunt you. We made way too many turnovers – and we can’t make stupid penalties against us.
This is the sixth straight year that these two teams have played in the second weekend of the season. Yet, in that time, the Lions are just 3-3 in the series against them, as they dropped to 12-3 all-time in the series.
“I wasn’t here for the previous two defeats,” said Chris Spellman. “When you play a team every year, you want to beat them. It’s an out of conference game, but it’s still a rivalry between sides. These schools are from New Jersey, and you still want to beat them. No matter who you play, you want to beat them. It sucks that we beat ourselves, or the result would have been different.”
Besides this loss, the Devils two other wins have been by one point. In 2010, they won 24-23, while in 2008, they won 42-41.
In addition, this is the first time since the 2010 season that the Lions lost the first two games of the season. TCNJ would only finish 5-5 that season, but this season the team received a new head coach just two weeks before practice started.
“We have to get more consistent. We have been practicing well on the practice field, but it’s not translating to the games. That becomes the biggest difference. When the lights go on and you are playing for real, it’s a different atmosphere. It’s a different set of emotions going on, and no one can predict how they are going to react.”
Each team’s punter and the defense spent more time on the field than their offense. There was 13 punts and 4 turnover on downs, as each team turned it over on downs twice, that stopped the respective offenses.
“It’s the kind of game, if we didn’t turn the ball over that much, we could have easily won this game,” said Dickens.
FDU-Florham added a 31-yard field goal by Sean Gavin to increase early into the 4th quarter, as they went up 18-12.
The Devils also had four interceptions, including two by Joe Mancini, while the Lions had just one. But TCNJ’s lone interception was returned for a 45-yard touchdown by Ryan Lowe to get the Lions within 3 points at 15-12 with 1:01 left in the third.
“That was a great interception, as he dropped back and got underneath the throw,” said Dickens. “What usually happens, and happened to us on the play, the quarterback never saw him, and hopefully, the defender can catch it. He made a really nice run afterwards, as he avoided a defender on the run. It was a heck of a play.”
Craig Kimbrough would not allow the Devils to settle with an 8-6 halftime score. He caught a 17-yard pass from Santos to increase the FDU-Florham lead with 22 seconds left, as his touchdown put the Devils up 15-6.
The Lions struggled in the first half, as only one drive resulted in a touchdown. However, Evan Costello missed an extra point.
Lions sophomore quarterback Chris Spellman threw a 47-yard touchdown to Kyle Jansczek. Then, Costello missed the extra point resulting in a 8-6 score at the time.
“Jansczek is an athlete,” said Spellman. “I threw the ball to him and he caught it, then made a play en route to a touchdown.”
FDU-Florham was up 8-0 before the Lions scored. Santos scored on a 1-yard touchdown at 9:56 in the second quarter after a team safety in the first quarter to make it 8-0.