GLASSBORO, N.J. – The Morrisville State College football team concluded the regular season schedule Saturday afternoon, upending #23 ranked and New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) leader, Montclair State University, 38-20 in conference action in Glassboro, New Jersey.
The win is the eighth for the Mustangs this season, who improve to a program best 8-2 since the transition to Division III in 2006, while regaining the top spot in the conference with a 6-1 stint in the 2014 campaign. Montclair dropped to 7-2 overall, and fell in their first NJAC match of the year, 5-1.
Morrisville State rolled to 535 yards total offense on the day, besting the hosts by 300, collecting 256 alone in the running game.
Cristian Pena (Ridgewood, N.Y.) led the Mustangs rushing game, registering 128 net yards on 28 carries for two touchdown scores, while teammate Lemar Johnson (Ossining, N.Y.) added another 104 net yards on 23 carries for a score to the Mustang totals.
Johnson also connected on 24-of-35 passes for 246 yards through the air for three touchdowns, two to fellow senior Josh Powell (Yonkers, N.Y.) who registered 128 yards on 10 receptions. Anthony Gray (Smallwood, N.Y.) added 42 yards on five receptions on the day.
Caleb Wright (Cortland, N.Y.) and Delroy Young (Binghamton, N.Y.) each posted six tackles and forced a fumble in the defensive efforts, while Young added two fumble recoveries to his stats on the day.
Montclair State struggled to get the offense rolling, managing just 10 first downs to the Mustangs 37, while being held to a season low 57 yards rushing.
Tariq Turner led the efforts on the ground, managing 84 net yards on 13 carries, while quarterback Ryan Davies was credited with a loss of 27 on three attempts.
Nearly all of the Red Hawks offensive game came through the air, as Davies connected on 17-of-27 attempts for 178 yards and a score to wide receiver Devin Levesque who led the Montclair efforts with 116 yards on 10 receptions.
Three posted double figures for the defensive unit, each tallying 12 stops, as Billy Merz led all efforts with his nine solo, three assisted tackle performance. Eric Gargiulo and Michael Tenpenn each had 12.
Morrisville State scored on the opening drive of the contest, finding the end zone in 10 plays that spanned 63 yards for the early score. Johnson completed the drive with a two-yard run, pulling within four points of the all-time scoring record at Morrisville State (164 points).
Montclair State responded on the ensuing drive as Turner capped off the 69-yard drive with a one yard run up center sending the game into the second quarter tied at seven.
Morrisville State regained the lead seconds into the second quarter as Johnson hit Powell for the first of two touchdowns on the day, a 21 yard completion that completed the 81 yard drive in just 10 plays.
On the ensuing kickoff, Wright forced a fumble on the return and Young recovered, regaining possession for the Mustangs in Montclair territory where Pena added a second Morrisville State score of the quarter, this time a one yard pound up center into the end zone with over 11 minutes to play in the half.
Morrisville State held the 20-7 lead at the break, before a Montclair score early in the third on a Davies to Levesque connection brought it back within six, but the Mustangs overpowered the hosts over the final 24 minutes, outscoring the Red Hawks 18-6 to capture the win.
Pena posted his second of the afternoon on an eight yard run midway through the third to complete the 83-yard drive, before Johnson connected with a wide open Jordan Charbonneau (Corinth, N.Y.) early in the fourth for another Mustang tally.
Powell capped off all scoring on the day with a six yard scoring strike from Johnson as Morrisville State collected their sixth NJAC win of the year to regain first place in the standings.
Morrisville State's offense had the ball for nearly three entire quarters of play, a static that is atypical of the fast moving offensive unit, as they maintained possession for over 42 minutes on the day. They also capitalized on Red Hawk turnovers, scoring 14 points, as the hosts turned the ball over a total four times in the loss.
The Mustangs will have a bye week next Saturday while the remainder of the conference completes NJAC play, including Montclair State on the road at Kean University and Rowan at The College of New Jersey. The win today, though, positions the Mustangs for a potential conference title, and post-season bid.