With November’s arrival, the College was hoping to break free of its losing streak and start the new month off with a fresh win. So, the Lions football coaching staff decided to change things up, putting freshman Trevor Osler on the field as the starting quarterback, his first career start.
Typically coming into games late during the five-game losing streak, Osler impressed in the starting position, going eight of 16 for 88 yards and earning two touchdowns. In effect, Osler helped the College overcome cold, rainy conditions and defeat the Kean University Cougars 20-10. It was the Lions’ first NJAC win of the season.
“(Osler) played a whale of a game,” Coach Wayne Dickens said. “We needed him to step up and play for us this week. That’s why you have three — when a couple are dinged up, you can play somebody else and play effectively. He did a great job for us.”
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Lions (2-6, 1-4 NJAC) that began with a 48-0 shutout to No. 1 ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater on Saturday, Sept. 20. This was the team’s first win since Friday, Sept. 12, when they won 17-13 over FDU-Florham in Madison, N.J.
The College used a strong defensive effort and forced five Kean turnovers. The defense had three sacks, as well.
“Defense played lights out,” Coach Wayne Dickens said. “If you win the turnover battle, you often win the football game, and that’s what we did.”
Matthew Fleck, a senior outside linebacker, had two of the four interceptions, and junior Zack Vasilenko had a game-high of 13 tackles for the Lions.
“Our defense played unbelievably,” Osler said.
Sophomore Kean signal-caller Robert Meade III went 12 of 24 for 126 yards. He also had three interceptions and two sacks, before being replaced by freshman Charles Vellis. He went zero for three with an interception and a sack.
Kean’s Quadir Johnson, junior wide receiver, had five receptions for 59 yards, while senior running back Will Ingram had four receptions for 34 yards. Senior wide receiver Brandon Robinson had a reception for 26 yards, while junior tight end Jonathan Schmitt had two catches for 10 yards.
Lions junior wide receiver Conor Mulholland had three receptions for 54 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Jeff Mattonelli and junior tight end Andrew Lachawiec had 12 yards each. Junior tight end Chris Spellman had six yards, while freshman tight end Chase Vena had four yards.
Freshman running back Khani Glover had 19 yards for 101 yards. Sophomore back Frank Fuccello had 14 carries for 54 yards, while junior back Brad Young had five carries for nine yards.
“Glover is a really good football player,” Dickens said. “He gives us another dimension with his speed.”
Ingram had 20 carries for 109 yards, while senior back Kevin O’Connor had 10 carries for 37 yards. Freshman receiver Abe Sanchez had 12 yards, while Meade III had five yards and Robinson had four yards.
Cougars’ freshman kicker Steve Ferlisi made a 34-yard field goal to put Kean up 3-0 at 7:28. Then, Spellman, the College’s former quarterback, caught a six-yard touchdown from Osler at 3:57 in the first. The Lions went up 6-3 at this point.
Fleck had a 64-yard interception at 0:46. He picked off Meade, as the defense made it 13-3.
Lions junior wide receiver Mulholland caught a 27-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Osler, allowing the Lions to increase their lead to 20-3 at 12:45 in the fourth.
“It was really nice to play with a lead,” Osler said. “Unfortunately, we’re not always able to do that, but it was nice to do it (on Saturday).”
Cougars’ sophomore OL/DL Tom Winters recovered a fumble in the end zone. The play at 2:33 made it 20-10, but the Lions would hold the score and end up on top. The Cougars (2-6, 2-3 NJAC) have now dropped their past two games.
“I think the kids were having fun,” Dickens said. “We’ve been mired in this (losing streak) for a number of weeks, and it’s really tough on them. They had a great time, and they got a great win. We really needed this.”