When Fairfield University's 59-20 Metro Atlantic Athletic conference demolition of Canisius College before 765 at the Demske Sports Complex was over Saturday, one coach had a vision of the past. The other had a vision for the future.
"They are where we want to be in two or three years," said Chuck Williams of a very young and inexperienced Canisius team. "We are a young team and they (Fairfield) are the standard we have to measure ourselves against. We fought as well as we could against much better athlete with much more experience," Williams said.
"I look at Canisius (1-3, 0-2 MAAC) and it reminds me of what we were like in 1996. I'm impressed with their talent," said Kevin Kiesel of the Red stags, who improved to 3-0, 2-0. Fairfield is thristing for an NCAA Division I-AA playoff berth in only the fourth year of varisty football at the Connecticut college.
Canisius never had a chance Saturday. Led by All-MAAC quarterback Jim Lopusznick, a senior and four-year starter, The Red Stags scored on their first three possessions to build a commanding 28-0 lead early in the second quarter and never were threatened.
Fairfiled's 59 points was the third-highest total ever scored against a Canisius team, and second in the modern era only to the 60 scored against the Griffs by Marist last season. The Red Stags rolled up 532 yards in total offense, 382 passing. Canisius had 260 yards overall, managing only 4 net yards rusing.
Lopusznick, who played less than a half, completed 14 of 19 passes for 204 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His replacement Mike Cerchio added another 137 yards and two touchdowns as he completed 8 of 19. Senor receiver Eric Wise has 10 catches for 97 yards and one touchdow while junior wideout Steve Hadley had five catches for 121 yards and two scores. Hadley also was on the receiving end of a 72-yard pass play which set up another score.
"We got off to a good start against Duquesne last week, too, then we turned the ball over and let them back in the game," Kiesel said. "The difference this time was we held on to the ball and kept taking it to Canisius." After taking a 42-13 halftime lead, Fairfield tacked on 17 more points in the third quarter with Cerchio directing the Red Stags ' three-wide receiver attack, then let up in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Mark Nachreiner (North Tonawanda), starting in place of the injured Bryan Roland (hip), threw for 256 yards and all three Canisuis Touchdowns. He completed 19 of 40 but was intercepted five times and lost a pair of fumbles, one of which led directly to a Fairfield touchdown.
Junior Jake Coppola (Forestville) and senior Mike Minnuto (Sweet Home) were on the receiving end of touchdown throws from Nachreiner. Coppola had two TD catches, from 14 yards in the second quarter and 11 in the fourth. Minnuto snared a 20-yard scoring pass with 2:20 left in the first half.
Minnuto ended up with six catches for 125 yards.. Coppola also had six receptions, for 88 yards.
"Mark threw the ball really well," said Minnuto, one of the Griffs' few senior starters.< "The biggest thing in giving him time. He's got a strong arm and he can hit those throws if he gets time, but we have a young line."
Minnuto admitted losing, 59-20, is not the ideal way to open the home portion of your senior season, but he saw some bright spots.
"There were some positives ," he said. "The effort was there. Nobody quit. I think we're going to bounce back."
Canisius plays at home next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Marist College of the MAAC. It will be Homecoming Day for the Griffs.