Football Falls to Wagner in Division I-AA Championship

Spencer Serling

The Raiders’ incredible season on the gridiron ended this past weekend as the team travelled to Staten Island and lost in the first round of the Division I-AA Football Championship to Wagner

University 31-20.

After winning the Patriot League Championship and receiving the automatic bid into the playoff, the Raiders fell short, ending their season with an impressive  final record of 8-4.

Coming off their upset victory over the previously undefeated Lehigh Mountain Hawks, the Raiders took on, and narrowly defeated, the Fordham Rams 41-39 to close out their regular season. With the playoff bracket coming out the following day, the Raiders drew an away matchup against the Wagner Seahawks.

The game started off with the Raider defense forcing a three and out, but the Seahawks quickly got the ball back, forcing an interception from junior

Gavin McCarney.

The Seahawks scored on the very next play, giving themselves the early lead. On a cold and windy day in Staten Island, turnovers ended up killing the Raiders, as they lost three fumbles and threw two interceptions, something that was not characteristic of the team

this year.

Despite these turnovers and lack of productivity on the offensive side of the ball, the Raiders only trailed 21-7 late in the second quarter. With the Seahawks offense backed up deep in their own territory, sophomore Vince Myers blocked the punt, and the ball was scooped up in the end zone by first-year

Demetrius Russell.

This momentum put the Raiders back in the game but was quickly dashed as the Seahawks marched down the field with the remaining time in the half and converted a field goal putting them up 24-14 going into half.

Having been down against Lehigh at halftime, the Raiders felt that a comeback was possible, but the Seahawks proved to be a tougher opponent. After a scoreless third quarter, the Seahawks converted a 13 play drive spanning over eight minutes ending with a touchdown that put the game out of reach for

the Raiders.

Senior Jordan McCord was able to score on the next drive for the Raiders, but that came as too little too late as the final moments ticked off the clock with the Seahawks taking the victory.

On the day, both McCarney and McCord were held in check on the ground, failing to rush for over 100 yards for the first time in six games.

McCarney rushed for 97 yards on 19 carries while McCord rushed for 81 yards on 13, with both finding the end zone once. On the defensive end of the ball, senior Patrick Friel added 14

tackles to his team-leading 98 on the year.

Although the Raiders may have come up short in the playoffs, this year has to be considered a huge success, coming away with the Patriot League Championship. On top of these accolades, McCarney also received the honor of

Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year.

McCarney’s 3,778 yards of total offense also has him on the final list for the Walter Payton Award as national player of the year. Although McCarney will return next year, his partner in crime in the backfield McCord will not. McCord finishes his Raider career with 3,144 rushing yards, with 1,708 of those from this year.

Contact Spencer Serling at [email protected].