Montclair, NJ – Junior running back A.J. Scoppa (New Milford, NJ, New Milford) rushed for a career-high 169 yards and scored the game's lone touchdown while the Montclair State defense came up with big plays as the Red Hawks collected their first win of the season, blanking Morrisville State 7-0 in a New Jersey Athletic Conference game at Sprague Field on Saturday.
Junior safety Matt Mancino (Wall, NJ, Wall) intercepted two passes for MSU (1-2, 1-0 NJAC), which improved to 5-0 all-time against the Mustangs with their second shutout in the series.
Senior quarterback Mychael Hardamon (Roosevelt, NY / Roosevelt) totaled 153 yards of offense for Morrisville State, which fell to 0-3 in their conference opener.
Scoppa carried 34 times in the game and produced the game's lone score with 7:46 left in the opening quarter as he rambled in from six yards out.
Montclair State took possession at its own 37 yard line following a Morrisville punt. Scoppa ran for 16 yards on the first two played before Drew Cathey (East Rutherford, NJ, Becton Regional) connected with Bryan Ogden (Wayne, NJ, Wayne Hills) on nine-yard strike putting the ball at the Mustangs 38. Scoppa carried twice more before Cathey scramble 17 yards down to the Morrisville 14. Scoppa then finished off the drive with an eight-yard run followed by his six yard to cap an eight-play, 63 yard drive.7-0.
That turned out to be all the scoring MSU would need as the defense limited Morrisville to 193 total yards in the game, including 45 in the first half as the Mustangs saw five possession end in a punt while its deepest penetration was its own 43 yardline.
Meanwhile, the Red Hawks nearly added to the lead driving to the Morrisville 16 early in the second quarter. Montclair converted a fourth-down opportunity on a Scoppa run but the second time was not as fortunate as Cathey's pass went incomplete.
MSU led 7-0 at the half.
The second half produced immediately results for Morrisville as Hardamon connected with AJ Latta (Middletown, NY / Pine Bush) on a 49-yard pass play down to the MSU 28 that gave the Mustangs their first opportunity. But on the next play, Mancino ended that threat picking off Hardamon at the three as MSU maintained its 7-0 advantage.
That lead nearly grew on the next Morrisville possession as linebacker Adnan Sakiri (Ramsey, NJ, Ramsey) intercepted an Hardamon pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown a penalty on the runback nullified the score and instead of a 14-0 lead, Montclair State had to settle for possession which later ended in a punt.
Hardamon connected again with Latta on a 49-yard throw the next time Morrisville got the ball gave the Mustangs the ball at the MSU 27-yard line. But a holding penalty on second down proved costly as a field goal attempt was blocked by Montclair's Kevin Barnes (Long Valley, NJ, West Morris Central) ending what turned out to be Morrisville's last scoring opportunity.
In the fourth quarter, Mancino intercepted his second pass downfield to end one Morrisville drive. Still the Mustangs were only down a score and then caught a huge break. On a punt attempt, Darry Albright (Long Beach, NY / Long Beach) bobbled a low snap however the 6-0, 270-pound punter rumbled four yards for the first down at the 47 yard line. But Morrisville couldn't take advantage going three-and-out.
On its final possession, Morrisville moved the ball out to its own 45 yard line with three minutes left however back-to-back sacks by Matt Trivigno (Denville, NJ, Morris Knolls) and Joe Koonce (Cliffside Park, NJ, Cliffside Park), respectively for a punt and the Red Hawks managed to run out the clock from there.
Linebacker Dan Avento (Montvale, NJ, Pascack Hills) had eight tackles for Montclair State, which got six tackles fromMarc Aspinwall (Little Ferry, NJ, Ridgefield Park). Defensive lineman Rob Allen (Perth Amboy, NJ, Old Bridge) had two tackles and knocked down two passes while cornerback Clario Sampson (Newark, NJ, Orange) recorded a pair of pass breakups.Ogden had four catches for the Red Hawks while freshman returner Pat Caggiano (Cedar Grove, NJ, Cedar Grove) averaged 14 yards per return and also had a 44-yard kickoff return.
Austin Henchey (Unadilla, NY / Unatego) rushed for 30 yards for Morrisville while Latta finished the day with three receptions for 104 yards. Jeremy Stewart (Moravia, NY / Moravia) led all tacklers in the game with 10 while Freddie Gaetan (Bronx, NY / John F. Kennedy) had eight tackles. Travis French (Newark Valley, NY / Newark Valley) added seven tackles, including for four losses with Alrbight getting seven stops, 3 ½ for losses.
Both teams continue conference play Saturday, September 22. Montclair State makes the short trek to Wayne, NJ for a 12:00 pm kickoff against local rival William Paterson. Morrisville State is at home taking on Cortland at 7:00 pm.