By Anthony Caruso
On Saturday, Nov. 7, senior running back Victor Scalici left everything on the field in his final home game at Lions’ Stadium. In fact, he produced a career-high yardage that will go down in the record books.
Scalici helped the Lions defeat the visiting Southern Virginia University Knights, 23-12. The win is the Lions’ third straight after going winless in the start of the season.
The Lions’ record is 3-5 overall with one game left in the season. The Knights fell to 0-9 this season and remain in the lower end of the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
“It was big to get this season turned around,” Scalici said. “It’s big, and we want to end the season strong. We’ve wanted to win out (the season), and we have Rowan (next). They’re a very good team and we have to work hard to come out with a W.”
Scalici was a huge factor for the Lions’ victory, as he ran for 222 yards on the ground on 35 carries. He also had two of the team’s three touchdowns.
In the third quarter, he scored on a 11-yard touchdown, as the College went up, 14-6. Minutes later, he scored again on a two-yard play, moving the score up to 21-6.
“It’s just a great game,” Scalici said of his performance. “They were grinding up front. We keep talking about hunger and the offensive line was hungry. Have to give the offensive line big props. It was everyone, the wide receivers blocked and the defense was off the charts.”
His previous career-high, 134, came during the Halloween game against the William Paterson Pioneers. Scalici’s 222 yards is a record within the top five of the College’s history, coming close to Joe Clifton in 1987 who had 300 yards against the Ramapo College Roadrunners.
Scalici has also played in every game this season, and has 153 carries for 681 yards and six touchdowns. Last season was a different story for the running back as he was bothered by injuries and played in just two games.
“The injury bug was flying around,” Scalici mentioned of his season last year. “Sophomore year, toward the end of the year, I tore up my shoulder. Last year, in our first game, I hurt my foot. I wanted to come back strong and my teammates were pushing me hard. I have to thank them for everything.”
The Lions had 381 offensive yards with Scalici making up a big chunk of that yardage. The two quarterback system combined for 139 passing yards.
Junior quarterback Michael Marchesano threw for 85 yards, including a six-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Conor Mulholland. The other half of the quarterback duo, sophomore Trevor Osler, threw for 51 yards.
In the onset of the game, Osler threw an interception into the hands of the Knights’ sophomore middle linebacker, Tristen Burnett. He then returned it 54 yards for a touchdown, which gave SVU an early 6-0 lead.
The Knights other score came early in the fourth quarter when they also scored off of another Lions turnover. Scalici was rushing the ball, before he fumbled it at the two-yard line, where freshman defensive back Morgan Smith scooped up the ball and then returned it 98 yards for a touchdown.
“I’m disappointed,” coach Wayne Dickens said. “We gave them both touchdowns. If it wasn’t for those mistakes, we could have had our first shutout of the season. As we’ve done all season, we’ve made mistakes, but we’ve been able to overcome them as of late.”
On the extra point attempt by Southern Virginia, they attempted a fake like they did earlier in the game. However, this time around, the ball was fumbled and it was recovered by Lions’ sophomore defensive lineman Shane Kelley.
“We had a mindset that we were going to stop it, and we did,” Dickens said. “Kelley scooped it up, and in college football, you can take it the other way and score. It’s something that we practice, but we don’t ever really expect it to come into play.”
He returned it for a 98-yard two-point conversion, which put the Lions up, 23-12.
The Lions return to the road for their last game of the regular season against the against the Rowan University Profs on Saturday, Nov. 13.