Playoffs in jeopardy as Wesley falls at Rowan

Chip Knapp

GLASSBORO, N.J. — Of all the big things that Wesley College’s football program has accomplished over the last decade and a half, the Wolverines’ streak of playoff appearances may have been the biggest.

So it was a difficult thing for Wesley when that streak apparently came to an end on Saturday.

There’s no reason to think the Wolverines will make a 14th-straight NCAA Division III playoff appearance after their second one-point loss in three weeks, this time a crushing 28-27 loss to Rowan at Wackar Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

No. 8 Wesley (4-2 NJAC, 5-2 overall) couldn’t hold a 27-14 third-quarter lead, as the Profs (4-2 NJAC, 5-2 overall) snapped a four-game losing streak in the series, beating the Wolverines for the first time since 2013.

It’s also only the third time since 2003 that Wesley has lost two regular-season games.

“It was just a missed opportunity by our guys to play good football,” said Wolverines coach Chip Knapp. “We win as a team and we lose as a team. It’s very frustrating and very disappointing that we didn’t put our best foot forward.

“It’s hard to win a football game. We needed to bring more energy to the game. We needed to bring more execution and we just didn’t do it. … It’s going to be tough because we have such high expectations for this program. To lose to Rowan — a team we should beat — makes you want to evaluate everything we do.”

Just like in their 35-34 loss to Frostburg State, it was a missed extra point — this one after the Wolverines’ fourth touchdown — that ultimately cost Wesley.

But Wesley made plenty of other mistakes.

On the first play after the Wolverines went up 27-14, Rowan’s John Mannion broke off a 77-yard touchdown run that got the Profs right back in the game.

Then, after an interception set up Rowan again at the Wesley 11, Mannion (19 carries-156 yards) scored again on a four-yard run. Ethan McCarren’s PAT kick after the TD gave Rowan its first lead of the game with 8:09 left in the third quarter.

Wesley had four possessions after falling behind but never seriously threatened to score again.

Rowan outgained Wesley, 449-330 in total yards and finished with a decisive 38:28-20:57 advantage in time of possession.

Quarterback Khaaliq Burroughs completed 18-of-29 passes for 234 yards with a pair of scoring passes but also threw an interception and lost a fumble. E.J. Lee ran for 54 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Ruhann Peele and Corterris Simpson both caught TD passes.

Defensively, the Wolverines did force a pair of interceptions. They also recovered a fumble at the Rowan one to set up their first TD.

Cappadonna Miller and Isiah Mitchell both had interceptions for Wesley.

The Wolverines host Montclair State next Saturday at 1 p.m. for homecoming.

“Like Coach (Mike) Drass said and I’ve always said, the most important play is the next play,” said Knapp. “I told our guys, the program … we’re at a crossroads, What we do next is going to determine how this program is going to move into the future — for years to come, I say. This week is going to be a real big week for us. Our guys have to make decisions, our coaches have to make decisions to be all-in and to put our best foot forward. It’s just very disappointing.”

Facebook Comment