When the college football season started on a warm Saturday afternoon in September for Misericordia, the 2013 campaign was supposed to be as dreadful as the year before.
Sure, the Cougars still haven’t broken into the win column, but there have been uncountable upward trends.
“If you ask around this campus if we were going to be doing what we’re doing now — competing just about every game — they wouldn’t think that,” senior defensive end Jake Livingston said. “But we came out here proved everyone wrong, and every week we’re getting better.”
The improvement started right from the onset in the season opener, when the Cougars scored 40 points, and quarterback Jeff Puckett began what would be a historic season for him and the squad. A few weeks later, it took double overtime for King’s to knock off Misericordia. Now, that looks even more improbable because the Monarchs were in the hunt for the MAC title until last week thanks to a five-game winning streak.
Today, Misericordia (0-8 MAC, 0-9 overall) travels to New Jersey with a great chance of ending the team’s 19-game losing streak and getting that elusive first victory in school history when the Cougars face FDU-Florham. The Devils (0-8, 1-8) have the worst defense (48.1 points per game allowed), are last in the league in scoring offense (17.9) and have allowed at least 38 points in all eight MAC games. The Devils haven’t score more than 21 points in any game this season; Misericordia has scored 40 twice.
For a player like Livingston, who has been with the program before games were being played after transferring from Hartwick College in New York, this could make his last time on the field special.
“It would mean everything because we worked so hard for this in the offseason,” he said. “Everyone said we couldn’t do this, we couldn’t do that but we really improved a lot this season. We came really close a few times. It would be great to end my career on a win. … It would be amazing, it really would.”
But the game isn’t played on paper. Even though FDU has some lackluster numbers, the team has weapons on offense.
Quarterback Michael Santos has thrown for the third-most yards in the MAC (1,949) while connecting with 15 receivers. Leading the receiving core is Anthony Fruncillo, who has 599 yards this season. Meanwhile, running back Craig Kimbrough has rushed for 547 yards, while also catching 33 balls.
“We really gotta play assignment football on defense,” Livingston said. “Everyone has to do their part. You can’t try to do someone else’s job you have to do your job and believe that the other 10 guys out there are going to do their job and we’ll be successful…I feel like we matchup well against them.”
Misericordia (0-9 overall, 0-8 MAC) at FDU-Florham (1-8, 0-8)
When: 1 p.m. today at Robert T. Shields Field, Madison, N.J.
Misericordia will win if…the Devils can’t stop Misericordia’s rushing attack, which is averaging 262.6 yards per game, good for 17th in the entire country. FDU has struggled stopping opponents’ runs allowing 258.9 per game.
FDU-Florham will win if…its passing game, which is third-best in the MAC averaging 222.4 yards a game, can exploit the Misericordia pass defense that’s only giving up 201.8 yards a game, the fourth-best in the conference.
What to know: A losing streak will come to an end this afternoon. FDU has lost eight in a row after winning its first game of the season. Misericordia has lost 19 games in a row since the program started playing games at the beginning of last year.