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William Paterson Pioneers Looking to Rebound Against Kean

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)


William Paterson suffered a  tough 31-0 defeat at Rowan University last Friday. The Pioneers offense amassing just two first downs and 68 total yards while the defense yielded 385 yards. Despite all that, head coach Jerry Flora took many positives out of the game. The Pioneers were only down 7-0 at halftime before Rowan put the contest away with 17 fourth quarter points.

“Our defense played very well against a very good Rowan team as we expected and the first half was a battle of field position,” Jerry Flora said. We punted 15 times and they must have punted 10 or 11 times. We put together one drive that stalled. A couple of missed tackles from it being 0-0 at the half.”

“The QB (Dante Pinckney) from Rowan made a great throw on a post route and we thought the coverage was excellent,” continued Flora. “It changes the face of the game and we know how tough their defense is and probably one of the tougher ones we have seen based early in the season.”

Flora said the team played very hard and with relentless effort in the second half, pointing to the two late fourth quarter scores. “The score is not indicative of that and playing in front of a packed house on a Friday night, I was rather delighted with our young defense because we only have three seniors.”

Freshman linebacker Taheem Jackson earned his second consecutive NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Week honors after registering 10 tackles. “Taheem is an exceptional player and is not very big but very quick, tackles and from a very good football system at East Orange and one of our four freshman starting on defense right now,” said Flora. “He is a tackling machine and playing next to Charles Faulkner, who had 14 tackles, and can build off Charles confidence and being a captain. I know what Taheem can do and he did it against good sized running backs and receivers.”

“One of the goals going into the game was to control the clock, especially playing against a team that is a little bit better in better size ability like Rowan,” he continued. “We had 27 minutes of possession to 33 for them and we only had two first downs. If we had converted half of the other first down we would had more time of possession than them.”

Flora said unlike last year, when the team turned the ball over four times, this year there was not a single turnover that helped the defense in the first half. “A telling stat for a defense and pretty impressive is to hold them to five three-and-outs and we held them to six. We’re not making wholesale changes and I said to the team afterwards it’s the same team that won two weeks ago and put up 43 against Alfred State.”

On to the matchup this weekend, an NJAC conference game, Saturday at Wightman Stadium against Kean University at 1:00 p.m. Kean, a team who was ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll and won the 2015 ECAC Bowl Championship, returns six All-Conference players.

Last season the Pioneers lost a close game to the Cougars 27-24. Senior wide receiver Malcolm Robinson tallied 113 receiving yards. “A tough team also and their starting QB got hurt in week one and probably done for awhile as well as their starting tailback but their backups are quite capable,” Flora said of Kean. “We’re familiar with Charles App (258 yards) who played in the second half against us last year.”

Kean’s leading rusher is Brian Matthews with 318 yards.

“Their offensive line is the strength and Robert Meade is the anchor of their defense,” said Flora. “Last year we came up short but two years ago we beat them at their place on homecoming. Of all the teams we play this is the most evenly matched as our guys know theirs.”

“If we bring the same energy as we did last Friday night, play with a relentless effort, can give the ball to our athletes with space make some of the corrections we have to make we can be victorious. It’s going to come down to who makes the least mistakes.”

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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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