Glassboro, NJ (11/5/11) – Early in the day at Richard Wackar Stadium, Montclair State found itself in a 21-point hole. By day's end, the Red Hawks put themselves in position for the NJAC Championship.
Senior running back Chris D'Andrea (Union, NJ / Union) scored from a yard out in overtime to give the Red Hawks a thrilling 37-31 victory over Rowan on Saturday afternoon. The comeback win by MSU setup a showdown next Saturday at Sprague Field as Montclair hosts Kean University at 1:00 pm. Both teams come in at 8-1 overall, 7-1 in the NJAC with the winner claiming the conference crown and automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
D'Andrea's short plunge capped off game that was filled with comebacks within the game plus outstanding efforts as Montclair posted its sixth straight victory against Rowan dating back to 2006, the last time MSU needed overtime to settle a contest.
Rowan had the first possession in the extra period however the Profs missed a 39 yard field goal that hit the left upright. Montclair started at the 25 yard line. After being stopped on first down and an incomplete pass on second down, MSU faced a 3rd-and-10 from the 25. D'Andrea broke free for a 24 yard run putting the Red Hawks a yard away from paydirt. On the next play, D'Andrea rushed up the middle for the winning touchdown.
Rowan jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter as Louie Biachini (West Long Branch, NJ / Red Bank Catholic) threw a pair of touchdown passes while Geno Raman (Mullica Hill, NJ / N. Kingston, RI) returned an interception 57 yards for a score. But Montclair would get a touchdown back with 3:38 to play before halftime as Drew Cathey (East Rutherford, NJ / Becton Regional) hit Dan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ / West Essex) for 34 yards as MSU trailed 21-7 at intermission.
The combo would connect again in the third quarter for a 12-yard score and, after a Jake DelVento (Island Heights, NJ / Toms River South) 28-yard field goal, Montclair took the lead as Cathey hit Byron Lewin (Carteret, NJ / Carteret) for a 38 yard score as Montclair went up 24-21 with 10:45 to go.
Then the wildness that became the final five minutes kicked in. Bianchini found Eddie Eisenhart (Mullica Hill, NJ / Clearview Regional) for a 38-yard touchdown pass to put Rowan up 28-24 with 3:52 left. Montclair marched right back down the field with D'Andrea rumbling in from two yards out to give the Red Hawks a 31-28 lead with 1:26 left.
Rowan got the ball back, but Bianchini was intercepted by C.J. Conway (Folsom, NJ / Hammonton) at the Montclair 36 with 56 seconds which appeared to seal the game for MSU. But on the next play, Cathey was stripped of the ball which was recovered by Rowan at the MSU 35 giving the Profs one final chance.
And Rowan nearly made the most of it, getting down to the MSU 5 with 11 seconds left. Following the timeout, Bianchini hit Dan Reed (Westmont, NJ / Haddon Township) along the sideline and he tried desperately to stay inbounds while reaching for the pylon. But safety Chad Faulcon (Cranford, NJ / Cranford) was able to push him out before reaching the end zone putting the ball at the MSU 1 with five seconds remaining. After two timeouts, Rowan threw a quick pass that fell incomplete. Tom Wilczynski (Pine Hill, NJ / Overbook) came on an hit from 18 yards out sending the game into overtime.
D'Andrea finished the game with 110 rushing yards as he broke the Montclair State single-season record for rushing yards. D'Andrea surpassed Bobby Vannoy's 1981 record (12 games) of 1,417 yards as he now has 1,457 yards. Cathey shook off a rough first half and connected on 21 of 41 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns. Lewin made eight catches for 127 yards and one touchdown with Keegan hauling in seven balls for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Linebacker Dan Avento (so. Montvale, NJ/Pascack Hills) registered a game-high 14 tackles (eight solo, six assisted), one tackle for a loss (-1 yard) and one pass breakup. Faulcon followed with 12 stops (eight solo, four assisted), one tackle for a loss (-2 yards) and two pass breakups. Linebacker Steve Shan (sr. Bayville, NJ/Central Reg.) forced a fumble and cornerback Kevin Cloghessy (sr. Hempstead, NY/Hempstead) recovered one. Safety Matt Mancino (so. Wall, NJ/Wall) recorded two interceptions, while cornerback Conway and Cloghessy each had one.
For Rowan, running back Keith Corcoran (jr. Atlantic City, NJ/St. Joseph (Hammonton)) ran for 127 yards on 30 rushes. Quarterback Louie Bianchini (so. West Long Branch, NJ/Red Bank Catholic) completed 26 of 51 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Dan Reed (so. Westmont, NJ/Haddon Twp.) posted 11 receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. Wideout Eddie Eisenhart (fr. Mullica Hill, NJ/Clearview Reg.) added four grabs for 65 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Chris Garcia (jr. Belle Mead, NJ/Montgomery) had a 54 yard touchdown catch.
Linebacker Dean Hammel (sr. Sewell, NJ/Washington Twp.) compiled 12 tackles (three solo, nine assisted). Safety Eric Sharkey (sr. Manahawkin, NJ/Southern Reg.) had nine stops (one solo, eight assisted) and two pass breakups. Linebacker Geno Raman (sr. Mullica Hill, NJ/N. Kingstown (RI)), defensive back Sean Carroll (jr. Southampton, NJ/Seneca) and safety Casey Dillon (jr. Northfield, NJ/Mainland Reg.) all had one interception.