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Stevenson football opens 2023 season with comeback 20-17 win over Rowan

Mustang defense shuts down Professors in second half, while fifth-year senior kicker Brody Campbell provides the winning margin for Stevenson on a Thursday in Jersey

In the season opener Thursday night, Stevenson football came from behind to beat Rowan University 20-17 at Richard Wacker Stadium in Glassboro, New Jersey.  

Despite the close score, the Mustangs dominated the statistics and provided evidence of their second-place rank in the MAC Commonwealth coaches’ preseason poll. 

After a last-second touchdown pass by Rowan put the Professors up 17-14 at halftime, the Mustang defense stifled Rowan in the second half, holding the Profs to just 52 second-half yards.  

The SU offense did just enough in the half to set up Mustang senior kicker Brody Campbell, who kicked a game-tying 38-yard field goal in the third quarter and the game-winning 30-yarder with 10:58 left in the game. Campbell praised his defense for the work they did to give the Mustangs a chance to take home a victory.  

“The defense played well all camp, so I knew once it came down to it they would perform,” Campbell said. “They are a deep group with a good mix of experience and youth.” 

The Mustangs started off slowly, with early mistakes allowing Rowan to score off of an interception in the first quarter. The first two Rowan offensive drives ended in field goal attempts — one make and one miss for the Profs, with the miss being a major help for the Mustangs later in the game. Still, Rowan led 10-0 before Stevenson woke up. 

The defense played well all camp, so I knew once it came down to it they would perform

— Senior Brody Campbell

Junior Tashan Fitzgerald made a big tackle for a 7-yard loss for the Profs at the end of the quarter. This play helped the Mustangs gain momentum in the second quarter, where they came up with two scoring drives.  

The first scoring drive began with junior quarterback Nyaire Wilson completing a pass to sophomore wide receiver Makhi Walker for a 25-yard gain. Elijah Marquez and Pat Gorman added to the drive with a run for Marquez and a reception for Gorman. The scoring play was made by junior tight end Tylor Blake off of a flat pass from Wilson. That narrowed Rowan’s lead to 10-7. 

A big 69-yard, second-quarter Stevenson drive put SU ahead for the first time with just 1:52 left in the first half. 

During the drive, Gorman and Marquez were, again, key components. Gorman made a 21-yard catch to put the Mustangs into scoring position, and Marquez rushed 4 yards for the touchdown, making the score 14-10.  

Rowan, however, was quick to respond to the Mustangs newfound momentum. Junior Demetrius Salley sacked Rowan quarterback Noah Brunatti for a loss of 8 yards in an effort to contain the Profs. However, Brunatti responded with a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jake Schicke to put the Profs up 17-14 going into halftime.  

After the halftime break, the Mustangs had complete control of the game, starting off the second half by holding the Profs to a -4 yard drive. During their next offensive drive, Wilson, Gorman, and Marquez worked efficiently down the field, with sophomore Kevin Smitson also contributing a crucial first-down catch.  

The strong drive ended with Campbell’s first field goal with 5:54 left in the third quarter.   

Kicker Brody Campbell prepares to kick the game-winning field goal for Stevenson. (Sabina Moran)

Stevenson continued to dominate defensively, with an early sack from sophomore Thomas Fisher. The turn of the game came from junior linebacker Clarence Travis, who intercepted a pass and ran the ball into scoring position for the Mustangs. With Campbell’s second clutch kick, the Mustangs held the lead they wouldn’t relinquish. 

It was a gutsy win, and Campbell knows that there are still things that the Mustangs need to clean up before their home opener this Saturday. 

“[We need to] eliminate the little stupid penalties,” he said. “We had plenty of plays that were left out there because of fixable things. I think once we do that then we will be on the right track to have a good season.” 

Stevenson opens its Mid-Atlantic Conference season Saturday, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. against Lebanon Valley College at Mustang Stadium. 

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About the Contributor
Ava Treakle
Ava Treakle, Sports Reporter
Ava is a freshman business administration major on a sports management track with a minor in photography. She is from Fredericksburg, Virginia and is a member of the Stevenson women's lacrosse and track teams. In the future Ava wants to become a sports journalist and photographer. She is also our main sports reporter for Stevenson football.
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