Collegeville, Pa … The College of New Jersey football team staged a late-game rally, but fell short 28-20 to Ursinus College in its season opener in Collegeville, Pa on Friday night.
Down 28-6 entering the final quarter, a 22-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Christopher Spellman (Mt. Laurel, NJ/Bishop Eustace Prep) to junior Kyle Janeczek (Allenwood, NJ/Wall) cut the deficit to 28-20 with 8:17 to play. But a 12-play, 37-yard drive eliminated 7:15 from the clock as the Bears secured their first victory of the season and spoiled the opener for new Lions’ head coach Wayne Dickens.
TCNJ sophomore running back Victor Scalici (Freehold, NJ/Colts Neck) rushed for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the night. Janeczyk caught five passes for 45 yards and a TD, and senior Nick Bricker (Middletown, NJ/Middletown South) led the defense with a game-high 17 tackles.
Spellman completed 10-of-23 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate start behind center.
The Lions (0-1) opened up the game exactly how they had hoped. They drove the ball 72 yards on 10 plays over a span of 4:48 that culminated with a touchdown. Scalici punched it in from four yards out and TCNJ held a 6-0 lead.
TCNJ’s defense held the Bears in check on their first possession, but on the ensuing possession, Ursinus defensive back Kyle Adkins picked off a pass and raced 37 yards for a touchdown.
The Bears maintained the momentum as they drove 74 yards on seven plays capped by a pass from Chris Curran to Jason Golderer for an eight-yard TD score. The extra point gave the host a 14-6 advantage. They drove 51 yards on their next possession, but a field goal attempt from 34 yards was blocked to keep the deficit within striking distance.
A 10-yard touchdown pass from Curran to Josh Williams stretched the Ursinus lead to 21-6 at the intermission.
Defense dominated the third quarter as each team denied the opposing offense on four consecutive drives. Sophomore Evan Costello (Sparta, NJ/Sparta) launched a 57-yard punt to put Ursinus on their own 26-yard line with 9:46 remaining in the period. Curran proceeded to lead his unit on a 16-play, 74-yard scoring drive that ate up 9:29 on the play-clock to increase the lead to 28-6.
TCNJ showed its grit in the final quarter. Scalici dashed into the end zone from the five-yard line to cap off a nine-play, 65-yard drive with 9:30 remaining. After the defense forced a three-and-out, Spellman hit sophomore Max Boerstoel (Boonton, NJ/Mountain Lakes) with a 20-yard completion that put them at the Bears’ 22. Janeczek then broke free from his defender and Spellman hit him with a pass in the end zone to close the gap to 28-20.
Three first downs by the Ursinus offense drained the clock as the Lions got the ball back deep in their territory with under a minute remaining. The Bears held on to snatch the opening game victory for the second straight year.
Curran was 13-of-22 for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Running back Jason Golderer rushed for 105 yards.
Junior Ryan Lowe (Howell, NJ/Howell) had a solid game on defense, sacking the quarterback for an eight-yard loss and finished with nine tackles. Senior Patrick Kimball (Sea Girt, NJ/Ocean City) also registered a sack along with junior Jeff Adubato (Lincoln Park, NJ/Butler). Senior Erik Trost (East Windsor, NJ/Notre Dame) intercepted a pass and returned it 14 yards.
TCNJ will return to Lions’ Stadium for its home opener next Friday night. They will square off against FDU-Florham at 7 p.m.