Football Falls in ECAC Bowl Championship, 16-7

Football Falls in ECAC Bowl Championship, 16-7
Kean Athletics

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (11/22/08) - The Kean University football team closed out the 2008 season falling to Delaware Valley College, 16-7, in the Eastern College Athletic Conference South Atlantic Bowl Championship on a blustery Saturday afternoon. Senior Durell Dukes (Elizabeth, N.J.) closed out his record-setting career with three more program marks, as he finished with seven catches for 93 yards and one touchdown, breaking the single season and career records for receiving yards and tying the single season touchdown reception record.

For Delaware Valley, senior defensive back Anthony Byers (Lansdale, Pa.) earned ECAC Most Outstanding Player honors after making three interceptions and finishing with a team-high seven tackles in the win.

Turnovers proved costly for the Cougars, as Kean turned the ball over five times on the afternoon, including twice in the fourth quarter deep in Aggie territory.

Playing into the wind in the first quarter, the Cougars were forced to punt on each of their four first quarter possessions.

Delaware Valley got on the board late in the first quarter, as the Aggies capitalized on a fourth and long conversion with a 21-yard completion from Isgro to junior Chad Peterman (Hatboro, Pa.) to set-up first and goal at the 10-yard line. After an eight-yard rush by sophomore Matt Cook (Selinsgrove, Pa.), Cook took the ball again and scored on the two-yard run for the 7-0 lead after the extra point.

The Cougar defense prevented Delaware Valley from extending the lead in the second quarter, holding the Aggies on fourth down on one drive and intercepting a pass inside the 20-yard line on another drive.

After a Cougar punt, Delaware Valley took over at its own three-yard line and marched downfield to the Kean seven-yard line. On the 16th play of the eight minute drive, the Cougars held Delaware Valley on fourth and one to take over on downs with just 2:41 remaining in the half.
On the ensuing drive, the Cougars got unlucky when D'Ambrisi was intercepted by Byers when Dukes, the intended receiver, slipped and fell to the ground.

The Aggies took over with 1:05 remaining in the half at the Kean 13-yard line after the 25-yard return by Byers. On the third play of the drive, Kean junior defensive end Darnell Butler (Rahway, N.J.) picked off Isgro and returned the ball to Kean's 38-yard line with just 16 seconds left on the clock in the half to head into the half trailing just 7-0.

After a Delaware Valley field goal extended the lead to 10-0 with the only points of the third quarter, the Cougars got on the board on the first play of the fourth quarter when D'Ambrisi connected with Dukes on a 21-yard touchdown pass in the endzone. With the catch, Dukes tied Anthony Robinson (1994) for the single season record with his 11th touchdown reception of the season.

On the eight-play, 61-yard drive that spanned three and a half minutes of the third and fourth quarters, D'Ambrisi completed 4-of-5 passes for 60 yards, including three to Dukes for a total of 50 yards.

The Aggies extended the lead to nine points on their next possession, taking advantage of a Cougar penalty and a big fourth down conversion. The Cougars looked as if they had forced the Aggies to punt after pressuring Isgro to throw the ball away on third down, but Kean was penalized for the late hit on the quarterback to move the ball into Cougar territory and keep the drive alive.

On the same drive, the Aggies converted a fourth-and-four when Isgro connected with senior Matt Mariano (East Brunswick, N.J.) for the 20-yard completion along the Kean sideline to give the Aggies a first down at the KU-15. Cook went the final 15 yards for the Aggies, first carrying the ball seven yards before scoring on the eight-yard run with 8:40 remaining in the game for the 16-7 lead after the extra point attempt was missed.

Sophomore Louis Haynes (Tinton Falls, N.J.) returned the kickoff 33 yards into Aggie territory to give the Cougars good field position on the ensuing drive. D'Ambrisi completed a 16-yard pass to senior James Felton (Plainfield, N.J.) on the first play of the drive and the Cougars eventually earned a fresh set of downs after Haynes caught a 14-yard pass from D'Ambrisi to move the Cougars inside the red-zone to the Aggie 16-yard line.

On the next play however, D'Ambrisi was sacked for just the fifth time of the season, as sophomore Kyle Gesswein (Williamstown, N.J.) sacked him from behind and forced the fumble that was recovered by Aggie defensive lineman Dustyn Seifert (Quakertown, Pa.) to end the Cougar threat.

The Cougars got the ball back after forcing Delaware Valley to punt after three plays, and Kean again was in good field position after Dukes returned the ball into Aggie territory with an 11-yard return to the 39-yard line. Unfortunately, Byers again intercepted D'Ambrisi at the eight-yard line three plays later to essentially seal the Aggie victory.

Delaware Valley kept the clock moving on the ensuing possession, keeping the ball on the ground before being forced to punt with 26 seconds remaining. The Cougars got the ball to midfield, before D'Ambrisi's pass to Dukes fell incomplete as time expired to end the 2008 season.

Dukes fell 15 yards shy of becoming the first player in program history to finish with 1,000 receiving yards, as he finished the year with school-records of 68 receptions, 985 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns scored. In just three seasons in a Kean uniform, Dukes closed out his career with a program-mark 2,684 receiving yards, breaking the record of 2,659 held by Kevin McGuirl (1985-88).

D'Ambrisi completed 19-of-34 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown in his first season under center. The 2008 New Jersey Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year ended the season with 2,054 yards and 17 touchdowns, the third highest totals in single season history.

On the ground, NJAC Offensive Player of the Year Jared Chunn (Tinton Falls, N.J.) carried the ball just 12 times and finished with 30 yards, increasing his own single-season rushing record to 1,405 rushing yards.

Defensively, the Cougars held Isgro, the Middle Atlantic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, to just 134 yards passing, as he completed 10-of-22 passes.

Butler finished with a team-high 10 tackles with the one interception for Kean , while senior Maurice Ginyard (Cape May Courthouse, N.J.) had a career-high eight tackles, including six solo stops.

For the Aggies, Cook carried the offense with 154 rushing yards on 37 attempts, while Byers led the defense with the seven tackles and tied the school-record with his three picks.

In a twist of irony, the two teams had never met prior to today's game. However, they had already agreed to battle in week two of the 2009 season, as the Cougars host Delaware Valley in their season-opener on September 12, 2009.

This game was also the final game in the careers of the team's 12 seniors, Matt Ali, Markal Ginyard, James Felton, Durell Dukes, George Williams, Maurice Ginyard, Tony Olamiju, Jake Pew, Chris Gould, Andrew DuPoux, Matt Dempsey and Rodney Holliday, as they posted three straight non-losing seasons for just the second time in school history and became the first class to advance to two ECAC Bowl Championships.