Rowan def. TCNJ 39-0 — Game gives Profs record the W, fight tarnishes everything else
You could argue the 60 minutes of regulation during “TCNJ vs. Rowan: 2009” about summed up the past two decades of the rivalry.
But after watching tons of chippy extra-cirriculars between plays and a brief fight after the game, there just wasn’t a whole lot of leeway to describe this continuation of a historically heated series.
More so than not, Saturday was chaos.
Unprecedented and inexcusable.
After owning the Lions in 15 of the series’ past 20 installments, this latest meeting between the two programs ended after a 39-0 rout—advantage Profs. The deficit tied the margin from last year’s finish (TCNJ, L 42-3), both of which represent the largest single-game disparity in series history.
But long before scoreboard indicated the game had gotten out of hand, officials had lost complete control of its order—if they even had any in the first place.
The bitter mutual sentiment fueled a majority of the yellow laundry raining in Coach Wackar Stadium Saturday, which saw a combined 25 flags thrown (NCAA record-39, happened 4 times; offsetting fouls not counted).
There were a few infractions—holds, pass interference and others—that were actually related in some way the game’s limited moments of civilized competition. The rest, a combined 19 unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, had more to do with a collective lack of self-control than anything else (TCNJ 8, Rowan-7 PF; Rowan-4 unsportsmanlike conduct).
When officials finally had enough and tossed two players, both seniors, from their last game as collegiate athletes, it seemed as if the afternoon had sunk to its deepest trough. Not only did the skirmish–ignited while teams exchanged post-game handshakes–outdo those quid pro quo ejections. But it smudged any brief glimmers of a ride-off-in-the-sunset picture for which anyone could have hoped.
What instigated the altercation remains uncertain. No one was seriously injured.
Its uneven finish and saddening tone throughout made everything else seem moot. But, somewhere in between the madness, a football game was actually played.
After forcing a defiant three-and-out during the Profs’ opening possession, TCNJ players watched quarterback Frank Wilczynski deconstruct its defense from then on, himself accounting for 378 of his unit’s 541 yards of total offense (140 rush, 238 pass). The senior was in some way involved in each of Rowan’s five touchdowns (3 pass, 2 rush), capping its offensive scoring with a 2-yard carry near the end of the third quarter (Rowan led 28-0 at half).
Unfortunately for TCNJ’s offense, the conference’s No.1 D wasn’t as gracious.
The most potent attack in school history never seemed to establish a rhythm throughout the entirety of the contest, finishing with only 52 yards of positive gains (2009 team broke record for pts. in season last week).
It wasn’t clear whether the Lions offensive line was out-matched by Rowan or under-manned on account of injuries (two starters out). But the protection it provided—or couldn’t—made way for the Profs’ 15 tackles behind the line for 96 yards of losses.
Offensive coordinator Bobby Acosta dialed up his distinguishing array of screens to take advantage of their aggression, but nothing worked against the Profs’ D-line.
Starting for the second-consecutive week in place of injured four-year letterman Chris James, quarterback Jay Donoghue was sacked 4 on four drop backs, hit on countless others. Profs’ linebacker Andrew Yezzi recorded his career’s two last sacks at the youngster’s expense and intercepted a frenetic pass (also FF).
Even the few plays when he had enough time to get it out of his hands, a blanketing Rowan secondary only offered tight spaces for the sophomore to fit the football—slimmer throwing lanes to get it there.
The lone exception was an electrifying catch-and-run for 46 yards by wide receiver Cam Richardson, one of only three successful completions on the afternoon (Donoghue 3/13, 66 yds, INT). Three other players took snaps from the position, though none of them completed a pass.
Utility play-maker Bill Picatagi received a few direct snaps from shotgun, putting forth undiscouraged effort on runs from the team’s Wildcat formation (2 rec., 20 yds). True quarterback Nick Tyson was used with hopes of adding a similar dynamic, though the hard-nosed freshman wasn’t any more successful with the rock.
Both players gained nine yards on their respective seven carries. Kevin Brown’s 27 yards was the most picked up by any Lion ball-carrier.
The lopsided victory snapped a two-game skid for Rowan (7-3, 6-3 NJAC), though it also capped a winless second-half for TCNJ (4-6, 3-6 NJAC).
It might have padded stats and had regular season implications, but there wasn’t a winner Saturday.
Not after that.
***Rowan University policy prohibits on-field interviews after games. Once TCNJ players and coaches had left the playing field, they changed in the locker room and boarded buses shortly thereafter.***