Today: Jun 17, 2024

Unsuccessful first game of the season for Owls football

Aaron JohnsonGeneral Assignment Reporter

NEW HAVEN – On a crisp, breezy day on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University, the  Owls football team took the field against a nationally ranked opponent in the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Crimson Hawks. The new season opened with a hard-fought loss to #10 Indiana University of Pennsylvania at Jess Dow Field on Saturday by the final score of 20-30.

“It was a great test for us,” said junior wide receiver Gary Williams. “It’s just minor things we need to do to get better.”

The Owls — who never led during the contest — fell down early after IUP running back Erik Finklea rushed from 45-yards out for the opening touchdown. But the Owls defense would hold strong for most of the game including forcing an interception by IUP quarterback, Mike Box, a transfer from UCONN.

“On defense we came out angry. We knew that a 3-8 record from last year didn’t define us last season. But we wanted to come out today and shock the world against the 10th ranked team in the nation,” said sophomore defensive lineman Tywan Jenkins.

In the second quarter, the Owls finally got on the scoreboard tying the game up after a one yard run by John Moscatel. Moscatel finished with 91 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns for the Owls. IUP was lead in rushing by De’Antwan Williams who finished with 135 yards on 18 carries.

The Owls tied the game up before the half after a big catch and run by Williams — who finished with four catches for 88 yards — but that was as close as they would get. Williams said that despite the loss he feels that the bond with his teammates has never been stronger.

“I’m still happy. We played together as a unit,” said Williams. “We’re a brotherhood and this is the closest a team has been since I’ve been here.”

Senior quarterback Jacob Jablonski had a rough go of things throwing three interceptions including one that led to the go-ahead IUP touchdown. Jablonski — who finished 15-29 for 236 yards one touchdown and three interceptions — tried to lead the Owls back in the fourth quarter. An impressive eight play, 75-yard touchdown drive was capped with a 22-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Vito Fornarelli — who finished with five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown which led the Owls — bring the score to 23-20.

“There were a lot of positive things,” said head coach Rich Cavanaugh. “Offense moved the ball and defense played well.”

The key play of the game came late in the fourth as IUP lined up for a critical fourth and one in Owls territory. In a surprising play call, Box dropped back to pass and hit junior wide receiver Drew Carswell — who transferred from the University of Pittsburgh — who made a spectacular one-handed driving catch with an Owl defender draped all over him for the first down. The drive and the game was capped off by a two yard touchdown run by Israel Green a few plays later. Despite the outcome of the game, Cavanaugh said he was pleased with the way his team performed.

“We played very hard. The effort was there,” said Cavanaugh.

The Owls defense was lead by both linebacker Brian Wilcox and safety Jonathan Balcacer — who finished the contest with 10 and seven tackles, respectively. The Owls will regroup and prepare for next week as they will travel to Long Island to play LIU in the first road game of the season.

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