By Matt Noonan
Saturday was a special day for the Nichols College football team, as they snapped a 17-game losing streak with a 26-16 victory against UMass Dartmouth.
Following the final whistle, players doused second year head coach Kevin Loney with a tub of Gatorade to commemorate the special moment.
“It was pretty good,” exclaimed Loney. “Obviously, it’s been a long time coming around here.
“[UMass Dartmouth] was in a two-minute drill [during the final seconds of the game] and they were moving the ball and we had some of our younger players out there because we had a couple injuries, so you’re trying to make sure you get them through it and you hope you can get a stop and we were able to do that in the end there.”
Nichols held a 16-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter, but UMass Dartmouth erased part of the deficit with a late touchdown pass from Mario Rigali to Jordan Guyton.
Following the late score, the Corsairs comeback hopes were dashed when the Bison scooped their onside kick up with 14 seconds remaining. Nichols’ offense then executed their victory formation, which sealed the victory and ignited bedlam on the Michael J. Vendetti Field turf.
“It was 26-10 going into the last minute, so you knew that unless something unbelievable happened, you had the game in hand, so I think our kids kind of felt pretty good about it, I felt pretty good about it with the coaching staff and it was just a matter of can we get them to finish,” said Loney.
“We were a couple plays away from really ending the [contest] the way we really wanted to, but there’s no such thing as an ugly win because there are no pretty losses.”
The win provided an uplifting feeling for everyone, according to Loney, but especially his seniors and upperclassmen, who have been committed to the program since he took over as head coach last year.
“They just have been nonstop in their commitment and their effort and their work ethic, so you could just kind of tell looking at their faces that they finally had a relief on their face,” Loney said.
“For our seniors and upperclassmen it was great because they’ve been through a lot here – a coaching change, a lot of their teammates decided to not continue and play here and injuries and everything else going on, so finally they were able to say here we go, this is why we put all this work in, this is why we stuck with it and at least now we get some fruit to our labor.”