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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SCSU getting ready for AIC

Despite some anxious moments, things seem to be headed in the right direction for the Southern Connecticut State football team. Defensive end Ikponmwosa Igbinosun intends on keeping them there.
The Owls, currently in second place in the Northeast-10 Conference, visit American International College on Saturday with their playoff hopes still very much alive. Southern (5-2, 4-1 NE-10) trails rival New Haven by a game in the conference standings.
SCSU rallied from another shaky start to defeat Bentley in a breath-taker last week. The Owls trailed 17-7 at the half and scored the next 24 points to take control of the contest with just a minute left to play.
But Bentley quarterback Bryant Johnson completed two Hail Mary passes in the last minute, but failed on the two-point conversion as Southern posted a 31-29 victory.
“We need to come out with more emotion,” Igbinosun said. “We were lucky to come out on top. It got crazy at the end. I think we might have lost a little focus and it has to start with the (defensive line).”
The victory kept the Owls clearly in the NCAA Division II playoff picture. The first regional poll will be released after Saturday’s games and it appears that if the Owls can run the table, they should be among the top six slots and earn a playoff berth.
AIC becomes the first of three straight crucial contests, and the game also completes the road portion of the Owls’ schedule. Southern has played just twice at Jess Dow Field this season.
“It almost seems like we’re never home,” SCSU coach Rich Cavanaugh said. “But that’s just the way it is. I’m pretty happy right now the way our guys have responded playing so many games on the road. Hopefully we’ve got one more good game in us.”
Igbinosun, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive end from Rahway, N.J., said he’ll be glad when the road trips end.
“I’ll be glad to end the Peter Pan bus trips,” Igbinosun said. “But this last one is big. AIC is a great rivalry. We know they’re going to be ready to hit and coming at us.”
Igbinosun is a big reason why Southern ranks eighth in the nation in rushing defense. The senior leads the team with five sacks and six quarterback hurries despite being double-teamed much of the year.
“This is a very good conference for defensive linemen and Ike is right at the top of the list,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s had a great year all year and I don’t think he’s even had a bad practice. I can’t believe there’s not more flags thrown for holding on him because he is just playing awesome.
“He’s definitely falling right into line with any of the great defensive players we’ve ever had here.”
Cavanaugh is just as impressed with Igbinosun’s leadership on and off the field.
“This season has been almost picture perfect,” Igbinosun said. “I’ve worked as hard as I can and I’ve got some leadership over the team and I know that a lot of them are looking to play more than 10 games this year.”
Igbinosun will have his hands full this weekend. AIC leads the conference in rushing, averaging 189.6 yards a game. Southern leads the conference in rushing defense.
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