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BREAKING NEWS: Zucconi captures 3rd NJAC Specialist Award

October 11, 2009

Surprise, surprise.

Reported in the wee hours of the morning after his team’s deceptively close 48-34 win over The College at Brockport, Lions‘ kicker Marc Zucconi captured the conference’s weekly award for its top special teams performer.

The D1 transfer from Louisville earned honors as the NJAC Special Team’s Player of the Week for the third time this season, finishing with a pristine kicking resume Saturday afternoon.

Zucconi converted his first of two successful field goal attempts with 12:21 remaining in the second-quarter, capping a 10-play 60 yard scoring drive to overcome his squad’s only deficit on the afternoon, 10-7. The Lions’ defense forced a punt five plays after Colin Weber‘s 40-yard equalizing touchdown in the waning minutes of the game’s opening period, permitting what finished as a run of 17 unanswered TCNJ points (RB Kevin Brown 1-yd TD rush; 3:08 remaining in 2Q).

Last year’s All-NJAC performer added a 28-yarder to widen the Lions’ margin–then to 20-14–ensuring points on TCNJ’s first offensive possession of the second half, following another stingy defensive stint that limited the Golden Eagles to 27 yards on five plays.

Zucconi’s reliable right leg wasn’t utilized early in the first half of the Lions’ 28-7 road loss at Kean University a week ago, during which the Lions’ walked away empty-handed on two first-quarter red-zone trips. He was also perfect on all six of his point-after tries, in addition to bolstering a shaky red-zone offense whose efforts yielded points on only one of its four opportunities distance a week ago (4/4 vs. Brockport; 2 TDs 2 FG).

His performance manifested in the field-position battle as well, recording touchbacks on all but one of his kickoffs, while dropping his only punt of the afternoon inside the Golden Eagles’ 20-yard line. Zucconi’s prowess in both facets of the TCNJ’s special teams sits him atop the conference in kick scoring (7.8 ppg) and individual punting average (41.5 ypp).

Rowan signal-caller Frank Wilczynski earned NJAC honors as its top offensive performer in only 30 minutes of football. Given the second half of the Profs’ 72-14 NJAC win on the road at Western Connecticut State, the senior completed 66.7% of his 18 pass attempts, accruing 216 yards.

He also averaged 16.1 yards per carry on his nine rushing attempts on the day, adding 145 yards on the with his legs.

Wilczynski scored six touchdowns (3 rush, 3 pass) in his limited performance–three in game-breaking excess of 50 yards (68, 53-yd rush TDs; 59-yd pass TD). The lengthier of the two he earned on the ground set a school record as Rowan’s longest run from scrimmage as a quarterback.

At week’s end, he leads the conference in quarterback rushing (avg. 110.8 rush ypg).

For his individual contribution during a defensive battle in which his Pioneers emerged victorious, William Paterson University defensive lineman Keith Sayball snatched conference acclaim as its brightest defensive star of Week Six.

In a marginal 14-2 win over Morrisville State, the senior tallied a career-high 13 total tackles (7 solo) wrangling Mustang ball-carriers behind the line six times for losses totaling 35 yards. Sayball’s personal effort that also included 2.5 sacks (-22 yds) and a forced fumble fortified his defense’s outing–one that blanked the Mustangs’ scoring offense and left its rushing totals in the red (finished -2 tot. rush yds).

On the season, Sayball shares the NJAC’s third slot in tackles for loss with Cougars’ utility player Richard Esdaile (Kean) and Profs’ defensive lineman Matt Hoffman (Rowan). Each  have recorded 8.5 stops behind the line on the season (1.70 TFL/gm).

Perpetuating the early trend of Rowan youngsters seizing conference limelight, freshman running back Tariq Gaines gained an economic 143 yards in the Profs’ afore mentioned beat down of the Colonials, compiling his day’s work in only four carries (35.7 ypc).

Gaines, well, gained 19 yards on his season’s only attempts entering the contest–a less efficient four.

He joins a list now four players long of NJAC Rookie of the Week winners from Rowan University, also wedging his way into its history books. Gaines’ first collegiate touchdown, a 61-yard dash to paydirt, added to the Profs’ ten trips to the end zone–most in program history.

Freshman safety Phil Bossman‘s seven tackles (4 solo) in his Red Dragons’ losing effort earned him recognition as the conference’s top defensive rookie–in only his second taste of action. His four pass breakups added to a resume that  made him Cortland‘s second NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Week in 2009–in the aftermath of its season-devastating 16-7 road loss at Montclair State.

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