EDWARDSVILLE, Pa. – Host Wilkes University used a solid running game of 263-yards and five rushing scores, to push past visiting Morrisville State College football by a 41-26 final Saturday afternoon in Edwardsville, Pennsylvania, in the MAC-NJAC Challenge and 2013 season opener.
The loss comes on the heels of Mustang head coach Curt Fitzpatrick's debut at the helm of the program.
Morrisville State collected 409 total offensive yards on the day to Wilkes 366, out doing the Colonials in the passing game, 321-yards to 103.
Junior signal caller Lemar Johnson (Ossining, N.Y.) led the aerial attack completing 30-of-46 passes for 321-yards, hitting junior wide receiver Josh Powell (Yonkers, N.Y.) six times for 125-yards and a score. Johnson also connected with sophomore wide out Anthony Gray (Smallwood, N.Y.) 12 times throughout the contest for 102-yards.
Cristian Pena (Ridgewood, N.Y.) led Mustangs on the ground, netting 49 of Morrisville State's total 88-yards rushing.
Caleb Wright (Cortland, N.Y.) and Travis French (Newark Valley, N.Y.) posted eight tackles apiece to lead the defensive efforts, while Jeremy Stewart (Moravia, N.Y.) added seven. Both Stewart and Wright also added an interception to their tallies.
The Mustangs forced Wilkes to a four-play series on the opening drive, and gave the offensive unit great field position early on. Morrisville State then put together an 11-play, 44-yard drive that resulted in a 24-yard field goal by junior kicker Zach Drake (Canastota, N.Y.) midway through the first quarter, for an early 3-0 Mustang lead.
Wilkes responded on the ensuing drive with a four-yard scoring run for the 7-3 advantage, but with under two minutes remaining in the quarter, Johnson hit Powell on a 67-yard pass play that lifted the Mustangs to the 10-7 lead come quarter end.
In the second, Wilkes continued the running attack and regained the lead with a five-yard rushing score minutes into the quarter, but Morrisville State responded, putting together a four-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off by a 21-yard scoring run by Johnson.
Stewart regained control of the ball for the Mustangs with an interception on the ensuing Wilkes drive, but a costly fumble on the next offensive possession resulted in a Colonial score and 21-17 lead.
With time winding down in the half, Drake hit his second field goal of the day, this time from 29-yards out, to send the game into the break with a one-point Wilkes advantage.
Moving deep into Wilkes territory early in the third quarter, Morrisville State's drive attempt fell short and they turned the ball over on a fourth down play that glanced off the fingertips of a wide receiver. Wilkes then put together a quick score, hitting their tight end on a 47-yard pass play for the 28-20 lead.
Pena pounded the ball into the endzone with 26 seconds to go in the quarter, capping off a Mustangs 12-play, 75-yard drive, to cut the deficit to 28-26 as they entered the final frame.
Wilkes put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, adding a rushing score early on before forcing two critical turnovers that kept the Mustangs at bay, as they collected the non-conference victory.
Morrisville State returns to the field Saturday, hosting Hartwick College at 1 p.m. on Drake Field on the Morrisville campus.
Morrisville State College sets the world in motion for students. Curriculums are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology. Lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs, the college was named to the 2012 President's Higher Community Service Honor Roll. Visit www.morrisville.edu to experience, Morrisville in motion.