Football Drops Opener at Wilkes

Edwardsville, PA (9/12/09) - The Wilkes University defense came up big once again as it caused three turnovers, including a 34-yard fumble return by Sean O’Neill and an 88-yard interception return by Corey Gilroy which was more than enough for Wilkes’ offense, which racked up 375 yards on the day as the Colonels posted a 37-10 victory over Montclair State on Saturday.

The Wilkes defensive unit continued its ‘bend but not break’ attitude as it gave up 335 yards to Montclair State, but allowed just 61 yards on the ground.

The Colonels held the Red Hawks to just nine plays on their first two drives before Wilkes traveled 58 yards in 1:58 when Chris Horn connected from 20 yards out giving it a 3-0 lead. The score was set up on the first play of the drive when Johnson hooked up with Gennaro Zangardi on a 42-yard pass down the sideline.

Wilkes’ defense would come up big once again in the second quarter as Montclair State attempted a reverse in the middle of the field, but MSU fumbled the the ball. O’Neill was there to scoop it up and run it in from 34 yards out. A blocked extra point would give the Colonels a 9-0 lead with 12:28 to go in the half.

Two possessions later, Wilkes would rely on the big play once again as Johnson found Jonathon Kocher at the Montclair State 31 yard line for a 27-yard reception before Jordan D’Emilio caught a 25-yard pass and managed to keep both feet in before falling out of bounds at the two yard line. Two plays later, Harry Reese would punch it in for his fist touchdown of the season. Horn’s kick was good, giving the Colonels a commanding 16-0 lead with 1:59 to go in the first half. The Red Hawks were finally able to sustain an offensive drive as they traveled 54 yards in 12 plays before Marco Capozzoli (Bloomfield, NJ / St. Joseph's (Montvale)) hit a 31-yard field goal with 27 seconds to go before the break.

Like before, the Colonels would cash in on a big play as Johnson connected with Aireil Adams for a 78-yard touchdown strike, hitting him in stride as he went in untouched, giving Wilkes a 23-3 lead with 14:10 to go in the third.

Montclair State threatened on its first possession of the second half, driving to the Wilkes 19-yard line, but on a third-and-eight play, Corey Gilroy picked off a Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston) pass at the 12-yard line and ran it back 88 yards untouched giving the Colonels a 30-3 lead after Horn’s extra point. Gilroy now has two interceptions on the year and the defense has a total of five picks in two games thus far.

Zach Tivald would cap the Colonels scoring in the fourth as he plunged in from two yards out with 10:10 to play. Sophomore returner Byron Lewin (Carteret, NJ / Carteret) would return the ensuing kickoff and helped set up the Red Hawks' lone touchdown drive.

Junior Ryan Boysen (Freehold, NJ / St. Peter's Prep) would connected with Scott Kubrak (Caldwell, NJ / Caldwell) for 25 yards down to the Wilkes 13. Chris D'Andrea (Union, NJ / Union) would take the next snap and run it down 11 yards to the Wilkes 2. D'Andrea would get two more carries, finally crossing the goal line on third down for the touchdown.

D'Andrea finished with 18 yards on eight carries while Jeff Bliss (New Milford, NJ / New Milford) had 48 yards on 15 rushes. Fischer was 17-of-34 for 194 yards while Boysen completed 5-of-9 for 80 yards. Senior wide receiver A.J. Letizia (Dumont, NJ / Dumont), who missed all of 2008 with an injury, had six catches for 74 yards. Lewin pulled in five for 37 yards.

Senior safety Jesse Shenker (Freehold, NJ / Freehold) led the defense with 10 tackles while junior Ed Kirschenbaum (Lake Como, NJ / Manasquan) collected eight.

The Red Hawks return to action on Saturday, September 19 as they are at Sprague Field for its 2009 home and NJAC opener against Morrisville State beginning at 1:00 pm.