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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stonehill sends SCSU to second loss to start season

EASTON, Mass. — A day of frustration could be summed up on what appeared to be the Southern Connecticut State football team’s most promising drive.

SCSU moved the ball to the Stonehill 4-yard line with 5 minutes to play, threatening to cut into a 13-0 deficit. But once there, the Owls’ normally potent offense imploded. SCSU committed two penalties and quarterback Bobby Lippincott was sacked, leaving the Owls facing a 4th-and-21.
SCSU QB Jake Jablonski (above)
missed the game with an upper chest injury.

The drive, and Southern’s comeback hopes, ended with an incomplete pass to tight end Jerome Cunningham in the end zone, sealing Southern’s fate in a 13-0 loss to Stonehill in the Northeast-10 Conference opener for both teams Saturday at Coughlin Field.

It was a day of firsts for the Owls, and none proved positive. Stonehill posted its first win in 16 contests against Southern. It was also the first time SCSU was shut out since Sept. 9, 2000, a span of 128 games.

“I’m not shocked we got shut out,” SCSU coach Rich Cavanaugh said. “It all comes down to execution and making plays. At times we did, and at times we didn’t.

“At times we ran the ball well and at times we threw the ball well. Stonehill played well. They had a good defensive plan against us, and the turnovers were a factor.”

Lippincott threw three interceptions for Southern in his first collegiate start. Lippincott was subbing for Jake Jablonski, who did not make the trip after suffering a chest injury in the Owls’ season opener a week ago.

“It’s easy to put the blame on the quarterback, but we have access to the film, and I’m sure we’re going to see other reasons other than him,” Cavanaugh said. “Maybe he’s hurried. There are a lot of other reasons. It’s also his first start and his second game.”

Lippincott, a redshirt freshman from Barkhamsted, finished 15 of 33 for 163 yards. He was also sacked six times. Vaughn Magee was the lone offensive bright spot for SCSU, rushing for a career-high 151 yards on 31 carries.

Southern scored just six points in its season-opening loss at Indiana (Pa.) last week. The Owls, who typically feature a high-octane offensive unit, have been shut down due to youth and inexperience.

“This was a learning experience,” SCSU linebacker Jack Cooper said. “We played hard on both sides of the ball. We win as a team and lose as a team. We just didn’t make enough plays.”

Stonehill took the lead on a 37-yard field goal by Stephen Grzywacz with 3 seconds to play in the first half. The drive began on the SCSU 38 following Lippincott’s second interception of the half. The staunch Southern defense got a big sack from A.J. Marsiglia, his second of the game, but Grzywacz, who hit the crossbar on a 38-yard attempt in the first quarter, knocked it through. It proved to be all the offense the Skyhawks (1-1, 1-0 NE-10) needed.

Grzywacz missed a 28-yard attempt to the left with five minutes to play in the third quarter as Southern’s defense stood tough. But turnovers continued to haunt the Owls, and when they marched to the Stonehill 18-yard line in the third quarter, Lippincott was again picked off to end the threat.

That proved to be the backbreaker as Stonehill marched 80 yards on six plays on the ensuing drive for the game’s only touchdown. The scoring march was highlighted by a 39-yard pass to John Gomes, who set the Stonehill record for career receptions on the play (126).

“We had some breakdowns schematically in the fourth quarter,” Cavanaugh said. ”The difference between last week and this week is that we showed up, we were excited and we played hard. We made mistakes that were costly, but everything we did wrong today could be corrected.”

Gomes then finished the drive by snaring a 5-yard touchdown pass from Logan Meyer to make it 10-0.

Grzywacz added a 25-yard field goal with seven minutes left in the game. Meyer finished 9 of 22 for 141 yards.

“I never felt we were out of the game,” Cooper said. “We all kept playing hard. We’re a young team who’s definitely going to learn from this. In previous years we’ve started 0-2 and we’ve ran the table. We open up at home next week and we’ve got to come out and get a win.”

Contact Bill Cloutier at 203-789-5653. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillCloutier. To receive breaking news first, simply text the word nhsports to 22700. *Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.

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