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Pioneers drop home finale against Christopher Newport, 26-7

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)


Saturday marked an emotional day for the William Paterson Pioneers with 13 seniors playing their final home at Wightman Stadium in Wayne, New Jersey. The Pioneers were looking to snap their four-game losing streak against Christopher Newport.

“It’s always emotional when seniors graduate and some have been here 2, 3, 4 or 5 years as part of the program,” Head Coach Jerry Flora said. “It’s disappointing but you have to get ready for the next group of guys, that’s how it works.”

The Pioneers offense got off to a solid start on their first possession of the game bolstered by a 48-yard screen pass from junior quarterback James Waldron to junior running back Aqeel-Daniels Lundy. Moving the ball inside the red zone and down to the Christopher Newport 8-yard line the drive stalled out at that point. Attempting a 25-yard field goal William Paterson was flagged for delay of game. From 30 yards out sophomore placekicker Nick DeAngelis kick was partially blocked.

Despite the setback William Paterson’s defense stepped up to the plate with freshman defensive back Ra’Keem Bennett picking off quarterback K.J. Kearney and returning the ball to the 11-yard line. Facing a 3rd and 19 at 20, the Pioneers would catch a break on a pass interference call keeping the drive alive. On 2nd and goal from the two-yard line, Daniels-Lundy plowed ahead for the score with 8:10 left.

“We did some good things early and put together a couple of drives,” Jerry Flora said. “A couple of 3rd down conversions we missed and a 4th down play. We’re really banged up right now and a lot of injuries but these guys played their hearts out. I give them a lot of credit because they fought and especially after last week we talked about the defense doing one job and stop them and offensively having to take care of the ball.”

However after a fumble by Daniels-Lundy, the Captains seized upon the opportunity thanks to a trick play with wide receiver Khiry Weaver taking the handoff and heaving the ball 40 yards down the field to wide receiver Taylor Loudan. On 2nd and goal from the one-yard line Kearney sneaked across the goal tying the game up at 7-7 with 1:40 left.

In the second quarter, Christopher Newport got the ball back near midfield and marched in precise fashion down the field. Big plays during the drive Kearney gaining 8 yards on a QB keeper on 3rd & 4 at the Pioneers 38-yard line and Kearney completing a 15-yard pass to Loudan. Facing a 2nd and 1 at the 36, Loudan took the handoff and dove into the end zone giving the Captains a 13-7 lead. William Paterson junior defensive lineman Omar Mahmoud came up with a big defensive play blocking the extra point.

After a Pioneers punt with 9 minutes left in the first half, Christopher New port chewed up over 6 minutes of the clock culminating in Kearney dumping a pass off to Loudan who did the rest rumbling down the left sideline and hurtling over defenders into the end zone extending the Captains lead to 19-7.

“They scored and it was 7-7 and a game at the half,” Flora said. “They didn’t score the 25th point until the end of the game. The turnovers didn’t hurt as much today and at the end of the day they made one or two more big plays and more than we did. Interesting thing we were banged upfront and moved some guys around and able to run the ball. You got a much better chance to run the ball because it controls the clock and first downs.”

Next Saturday the Pioneers (2-7, 1-7 NJAC) wrap up the 2016 regular season at Wesley College (7-2, 7-1 NJAC) with kickoff at 1:00 p.m.

“We’re playing a really good team to finish the season as we did last year and their defense is playing like they did last year,” said Flora. “We have to have a similar game plan by running the ball, controlling the clock, holding on to the ball and a couple of big plays here and there.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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