Football Takes Season Opener In Double Overtime, 41-34 At Widener
CHESTER, PA – The Rowan University football team won in a double overtime thriller against Widener University, 41-34. After both teams kicked a field goal to end the first overtime, Rowan started with possession in the second. After a stopped run, quarterback Riley Giles (so. Deptford, NJ / Deptford Twp.) connected on a 13-yard pass to tight end Cody Madden (jr. Hightstown, NJ / Hightstown) to set up a first and goal. Two plays later, running backAnthonyDiorio (sr. Medford, NJ / Shawnee) cut to the outside on a run to score the go-ahead touchdown. Widener had one last chance to tie the game and force a third overtime, but fell short as it threw an incomplete pass on fourth and goal. The Prof's defense was tested early, as the Pride's offense scored on their second drive of the game, to take a 7-0 with 9:00 in the opening quarter. Rowan responded seconds later as wide receiver Elijah Rehm (jr. Clayton, NJ / Clayton) returned the following kickoff 83 yards to tie the game, 7-7. Rowan slipped over the next five minutes of action, as Widener notched back-to-back touchdowns to pull away 21-7. The Profs buckled down and scored on the first play of the next drive, as running back Messiah Divine (so. Trenton, NJ / Montgomery) cut free an 80-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 21-14 at the end of the first. The Profs started strong in the second quarter, as running back John Mannion (sr. Verona, NJ / James Caldwell) broke off a 45-yard run to the Widener 16. Rowan could not use that momentum to punch the ball into the end zone, as the Pride defense stopped Diorio on a fourth and two run to change the possession. The Brown and Gold stumbled on the following drive, as Widener strung together a 93-yard drive to score and take a 28-14 advantage. The Rowan offense continued to fight but found no luck in successfully moving the ball down the field. After a defensive stop by the Profs, Widener lined up on a following punt. After the snap, Divine broke through the offensive line and blocked the punt giving them excellent field position with 1:28 left in the half. Giles eventually capped off the 29-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Madden to now trail, 28-21 heading into the break. Rowan came out hot in the second half as Rehm carried the kickoff 71 yards to the Widener 29. The Brown and Gold could not capitalize on the good field position, but kicker Alex Boyko (so. East Brunswick, NJ / East Brunswick) chipped in a 35-yard field goal to trail, 28-24. The Profs defense shut out Widener for the entire third quarter. Defensive back Travelle Curry (sr. Paterson, NJ / Passaic County Tech.) broke up a pass on the following drive in the end zone on fourth down, to keep the score the same. The final quarter was a battle from start to finish. Rowan fell behind as Widener converted a field goal grow its lead to 31-24. The Profs special teams stepped up all night and they did in a crucial moment during game. On the following kickoff, Rehm returned the ball 100-yards for a touchdown to tie the game up at 31, with 5:38 left in the final quarter. With 31 seconds left, the Pride lined up for the game winning field but kicked the ball short to keep score tied. Mannion started the final drive with a 24-yard run, which was followed by a 14-yard reception by Nick Grosso (jr. Sewell, NJ / Washington Twp.). Giles attempted one last final run to the end zone but fell short as the score remained the same and headed into overtime. Rowan dominated on the ground tonight as they rushed for 328 total yards. Mannion was responsible for 177, while Divine was good for 100 and a touchdown and Diorio tacked on 37 and a touchdown. Giles had a debut for the Brown and Gold, as he was 11-15 for 88-yards and a touchdown. Rehm was unstoppable on the kick return team unit, as he was responsible for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Henchy (sr. Galloway, NJ / Absegami) led the Rowan defense tonight with 14 tackles, while Jayson Gonzalez(sr.Roselle Park, NJ / Roselle Park) added 10. David Gajderowicz (sr. Medford, NJ / Shawnee) led the team with 2.5 sacks and also added eight stops. The Rowan football team stays on the road as it travels to Southern Virginia University next Saturday, September 8th, with the game set to start at 7 p.m.