BEVERLY — Before a football team can truly begin to grow, its players need to take care of the things that are under their control.
Endicott College learned this lesson the hard way Saturday as pre-snap penalties kept the Gulls from performing offensively, allowing visiting Kean University to grab its first win of the season, 24-17.
The Gulls (1-2) had a trio of false starts in the first quarter and then, in an attempt to tie the game on their final drive of the afternoon, had two more false starts, including one on 4th-and-5. The hosts couldn’t convert that 4th-and-long, and the visiting Cougars were able to take a knee to end the contest.
“We jump offsides, we jump offsides, and we jump offsides,” Gulls head coach J.B. Wells lamented after the game. “There’s too many things we can control that we’re not doing right now. It’s all pre-snap penalties. We shot ourselves in the foot, and we’re not giving ourselves enough of a chance.”
The defense did everything it could to keep Endicott in the ballgame. Gulls signal caller Drew Fernette threw a pick-six in the first quarter before a bad snap on a punt put the Cougars on the Gulls’ 25-yard line. Two plays later, Kean’s Christian Bailoni took a QB-read draw 20 yards for a touchdown to put the Cougars on top 13-0.
The Gulls were shut out in the first half and trailed, 16-0, but it could’ve been much worse if their defense hadn’t come up with a gutsy goal-line stand in the second quarter, when Kean has it 1st and goal on the Endicott 3-yard line.
Later in the third quarter, the New Jersey school was threatening to put the game out of reach when Endicott’s Jason Silva picked off Bailoni in the end zone. Silva grabbed his second interception minutes later, returning it 43 yards down to the Cougars 12-yard-line. That set Dylan Rushe for a 26-yard field goal to finally put Endicott on the board.