Kean Cougars lose NJAC title at home
By Dan Canova
The 2011 Kean Cougars football team were New Jersey Athletic Conference champions. The 2012 Kean Cougars football team, “just fell short.”
At one point in the very important NJAC conference game, Kean led the Cortland State Red Dragons 17-3. Before long, the Red Dragons scored 23 points to blow past the defending NJAC Champion, Kean Cougars, with a 31-17 victory.
“Our players and coaches put a lot of time, effort and energy to try and be the absolute best we can be each and every week”, said head coach Dan Garrett. “After starting 0-2, this team showed tremendous resiliency and resolve. We were as ready as we could have been to defend our title and you never want to experience that feeling of losing at home and have someone else celebrate winning the NJAC title on your homefield.”
The Cougars suffered key injuries early on in the game to two of its best offensive linemen, Matt Kiefer and Bobby Swercheck.
Darius Kinney was held in check throughout the ball game, which led to multiple Kean turnovers, ultimately making it harder for them to move the ball consistently down the field.
Another key point in this game were the referees, with questionable penalties called against Kean throughout the game, including an inadvertent whistle call during a huge Kean punt-return.
“I am one to never point at those officiating in any football game, but this game got ridiculous,” Garrett said. “The refs wanted to let everyone know that they were there.
There was one stretch where we had five plays in a row, there was a flag thrown on us. I never in all my years have seen anything quite like the officiating in that game. It was awful.”
Because of Hurricane Sandy’s impact throughout the tri-state area, Kean’s next football game against Rowan University was cancelled.
The following week after the devastating storm, Kean fell just short against archrival Montclair State University, 10-7 at Kean Alumni Stadium. A revenge game of sorts for Montclair State after the Cougars defeated them for the NJAC championship last season at their campus.
Kean finishes the season with an overall record of 5-4 and a 5-2 record in conference play.
The Red Hawks held Darius Kinney to 66 rushing yards, his lowest total of the season. Montclair also intercepted quarterback, Christian Bailoni, twice on the day and forced a fumble late in the 4th quarter. This unfortunately led to a field goal with very little time left for the Cougars to answer back.