MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – Visiting Montclair State University scored 21 unanswered points between the second and third quarters to come-from-behind and post a 34-21 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) victory over host Morrisville State College Saturday afternoon on Drake Field in Morrisville.
Both teams combined for 1001 yards total offense on the day, with Montclair edging the high powered offense 503 to 498. Most of the Red Hawks yardage came in the running game, as they outgained the Mustangs 279 to 226. Denzel Nieves ignited the Montclair rally with 167 yards on 15 carries, most in the second half, while teammate AJ Scoppa added 109 yards on 20 attempts. Both also posted rushing scores.
Quarterback Ryan Davies gained 224 yards through the air, completing 11-of-22 attempts for two touchdowns and an interception. Two passes were to Clinton Coffey who compiled 54 yards and a score, and another pass as to Malcolm Robinson who scored on a 78-yard pass play from Davies.
Adnan Sakiri led the defensive stance for Montclair, posting a game high 20 tackles, and forcing two fumbles, as CJ Conway added 10, including four pass break ups.
Despite having an "off" day in the passing game, Morrisville State outgained Montclair 272 yards to their 224, with Lemar Johnson (Ossining, N.Y.) connecting on 14-of-37 passes for 192 yards, and Cristian Pena (Ridgewood, N.Y.) going 1-for-1 for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Pena led the Mustang charge on the ground, getting the call 32 times for a net 140 yards, while Johnson added 80 on 15 carries for two scores.
Anthony Mella (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led the Morrisville State receiving unit, posting a collegiate best five receptions for 132 yards and a score, while teammate Josh Powell (Yonkers, N.Y.) managed seven catches for 78 yards despite being shut down for most of the contest.
Three posted double figures to lead the defensive efforts for the Mustangs, including senior linebacker Travis French (Newark Valley, N.Y.) who had a team high 11, including a forced fumble. Jeremy Stewart (Moravia, N.Y.) added 10 and a forced fumble, while Wally Stephens (Kingston, N.Y.) added 10, including a tackle for a loss of four yards.
Despite making two goal like stands, Morrisville State jumped out to a 7-0 lead midway through the opening quarter as Johnson capped off the 12 play, 64 yard drive with a two-yard rushing score with 6:26 to go in the first.
On the ensuing Montclair drive, Scoppa broke through two tackles, adding 20 additional yards on what should have been a seven yard gain, but following a series of incomplete passes, the 36 yard field goal attempt by John Schubert into the wind fell short and Morrisville State regained possession on their own 20.
On the first play of the Mustang drive, Johnson hit Pena on a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage, who in turn launched a 50-yard ball to a wide open Mella for the 80-yard scoring pass play, and 14-0 Morrisville State lead.
Doing what they do well, Montclair returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards into Morrisville State territory, and on fourth down of the drive attempt Scoppa rushed for the first down to the Mustang five yard line, but Stewart ripped the ball from his hands to regain possession for the hosts as time expired in the quarter.
Morrisville State threated to score early on as Pena posted two significant gains up the center, but a wide open pass by Johnson to a wide receiver was dropped on the one-yard line, turning the ball over on downs.
With just under five minutes to go in the half, Montclair found its offensive rhythm, and Davies launched a ball to Malcolm Robinson who pushed off the defensive back and caught the 78-yarder over the head of the secondary for the score, cutting the lead to seven.
Montclair forced the Mustangs to a three and out on the ensuing drive, but on the punt return attempt, Conway couldn't pull in the fair catch as it landed in the hands of Pena, regaining possession for the Mustangs in Red Hawk territory.
Montclair quickly regained possession on the first play of the Mustangs drive, forcing the fumble at midfield, but couldn't capitalize as Morrisville State forced another Red Hawk turnover late in the quarter to send the game into the half with a 14-7 host lead.
Early in the third quarter, both teams traded possession until midway through when Davies hit Coffey over the defensive backs on a 50-yard scoring pass play to even the contest at 14, igniting the Red Hawk offense.
Late in the quarter, Nieves found a hole up center and in the wide open field posted a 30-yard gain that was halted when he tripped over his own feet on the Morrisville State five yard line. Two plays later, he capped off the 65-yard drive with a three yard score, giving the visitors their first lead of the contest 31 seconds before the end of the third, 21-14.
With the wind at their backs, Johnson hit Powell early on in the Mustang drive to bring the ball out to midfield, before scrambling 10 yards into Hawk territory. Backed up by a sack and on fourth down, the offensive line gave Johnson time to scan the field, but seeing no open options he tucked the ball and scrambled 22 yards to the Montclair five-yard line, setting up the rushing score three plays later. Johnson's five-yard score capped off the 12 play, 75-yard drive and tied the contest at 21 with nearly 11 minutes remaining in the quarter.
Montclair though, on the next drive, used the speed of Nieves to march downfield and set up a 26-yard pass completion from Davies to Kevin Grady, before Scoppa capitalized with a 14-yard rushing score around the right corner for the 28-21 Hawk lead.
Morrisville State attempted to put together an equalizing drive, but fell short as the ball was turned over on downs on Montclair's own 30-yard line.
The visitors secured the win with a seven play, 70-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard quarterback keeper late in the quarter.
Morrisville State returns to the field Saturday, traveling to Kean University.
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.