Homecoming: Pioneers football shutout by Kean

The Pioneers football team (0-5, 0-4 NJAC) was shutout for the second-straight week in a 16-0 loss to the Kean Cougars (1-4, 1-3 NJAC).

During William Paterson University’s Homecoming festivities at Wightman Field, the Pioneers offense struggled to gain momentum against a winless Cougars team. William Paterson totaled 156 yards of offense while turning the ball over twice.

Pioneers head coach Dustin Johnson wanted to get another look at the film before he broke down the issues with the offense, but he did mention how long it took for plays to develop.

“One of the things we talked about was triggering the ball early, getting it out of the quarterback’s hand,” Johnson said. “And I don’t think we did a good job of that.”

Starting quarterback Tracy Fudge took five sacks on the day, and the offense failed to sustain many drives. The offensive struggles for the Pioneers are no secret, averaging a mere 6.0 points per game.

When the Pioneers did strike for a big play, junior wideout RaeQwuan Bridgeman was the recipient, hauling in a pair of passes for 51 yards. Senior, kick returner Matt Olivo was also a factor as he averaged 33 yards on a couple of kick returns that set the Pioneers up in solid field position.

Defensively, it was a different story for the Pioneers. William Paterson allowed Kean quarterback Ryan Pangborn to throw for just 89 yards. The Cougars rushing attack was equally unfit as it averaged 2.7 yards per carry.

With its back against the wall multiple times on Saturday, Kean found little success on offense. The Cougars had great field position on nearly every drive and managed a meager 16 points. It was enough to take down the Pioneers, but the defense did its job on Saturday.

Chozen Davis was named NJAC Rookie of the Week, after his two-sack performance against Salisbury. Davis followed that up with 1.5 sacks and six total tackles.

“The sky is the limit for [Davis],” Johnson said.

The young star was flanked by the talented Pioneers linebacking corps. Mahkye Boswell, Jonathan Jackson, Charles Faulkner, and Corey Anthony racked up 9-plus tackles each.

The youth on the Pioneers defense has flashed, but the veteran leadership of players like Anthony and Faulkner has kept the team in check despite the losing.

“Coming into the season we knew we had a few more seniors on that side of the ball,” Johnson said. “We are a little bit more stronger physically on that side of the football.”

William Paterson hasn’t won a football game in over a calendar year. But Johnson preached to the players that they are on the cusp of breaking the streak.

“These guys are getting better,” Johnson said. “Although the score wasn’t the way we wanted it they are improving week-to-week, they just have to stay the course.”

Staying the course will be key for William Paterson. The Pioneers still have powerhouse schools like Montclair State and Frostburg State on their schedule.

The Pioneers will take on the aforementioned Frostburg team on the road, on Oct. 13.