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Profs’ Yezzi earns NJAC award after shutout

November 15, 2009

Closing weekend for New Jersey Athletic Conference competition encouraged iron-willed efforts from all its fourth-year performers—two in particular manifesting statistically.

Fittingly, conference selections for Week 11’s most outstanding included two seniors.

Given the nod as the conference’s most exceptional defensive performer after its weekend finale, linebacker Andrew Yezzi became the second honoree among Rowan’s collectively stout D this season.

He recorded double-digit tackles in the Profs’ shutout victory over TCNJ (W 39-0), including 4.5 for a loss (12 total). The Franklinville, NJ native accounted for half of the unit’s 4 sacks in the win, during which the NJAC’s least lenient group allowed all of 52 yards of Lion offense.

Yezzi’s contribution included two glimmers of opportunism, complete with a forced fumble and an interception. Neither resulted in turnovers—the Lions safely recovered its own cough-up earlier, and later fell on an unforced fumble during Yezzi’s 33-yard return.

All the same, it seemed every aspect of his afternoon’s collaboration disrupted an already struggling TCNJ offensive attack (-25 rush yds in first half).

Upon the conclusion of the conference’s regular season—and several careers—Yezzi’s 18 tackles for loss stands as the NJAC’s best.

***

The College at Brockport’s opponents may have owned the team and its regular season record (finished 4-6, 3-6 NJAC). But after dicing his final opponent of 2009, Golden Eagles quarterback Jake Graci captured two of the school’s single-season marks for his three-month body of work.

And his third NJAC Offensive Player of the Week award.

Leading the program to a 48-20 victory during the latest installment of its storied rivalry with Buffalo State, Graci produced 404 yards through the air through 25 completions on 39 attempts.

After 10 games, the local product from Farnham, NY now holds the school record for most passing yards in a season, finishing his senior campaign with 2,668.

Graci’s five touchdowns during this year’s I-90 Bowl bolstered his season’s total to 23—a Brockport single-season school record. His afternoon’s scoring total—which capped gains of 88, 7, 20, 66 and 14 yards—also tied the program’s single-game mark.

At season’s end, Graci ranks No. 1 among NJAC quarterbacks with 266.9 yards per game.

***

Since he’s still only a sophomore, Montclair State University can look forward to two more years of production from punter Steve Layden, the lone underclassman listed on the conference’s Week 11 release.

But for those that won’t be coming back, the youngster  helped detract some bitter from senior farewells, compensating with a whole lot of sweet.

Layden dropped two kicks inside the Cougar 10 (downed at 1-yd line, 6-yd line) during the league’s unofficial championship match, breaking a tie between the NJAC’s two No. 1 programs (Kean, MSU entered 7-1 NJAC). Both primed Montclair State’s only offensive touchdowns in a predominantly defensive bout, one that ended 14-6.

A notable contributor to the Red Hawks’ 2009 NJAC championship, Layden’s 11 punts helped the program revisit its first taste of glory since 2003—its 18th all-time.

***

No offensive or defensive rookies were selected.

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