Football Pulls Away from Western Connecticut, 33-17
Senior wide receiver A.J. Letizia (Dumont, NJ / Dumont) and cornerback Dominique Dixon (Elizabeth, NJ / Morris Hills) each reached milestones in the victory as the Red Hawks (7-1) kept pace with Kean University for the top spot in the NJAC at 7-0. Montclair State improved to 9-1 against Western Connecticut with their seventh consecutive win in the series.
Quarterbacks James Williams (Wolcott, CT / Wolcott) and Chris Sloat (Stratford, CT/Bunnell) each threw touchdown passes for the Colonials, who fell to 1-7 overall, 1-6 in the conference.
Western Connecticut jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter as the Colonials chewed up the first 8:14 of the contest moving 54 yards in 14 plays. Williams converted a third-down with a run for three yards and later went five yards and 4th-and-2 to bring the ball to the MSU 31. WestConn would get down to the Montclair 13 however the drive stalled and James Campbell (Oakdale, NY / Connectiquot) connected from 29 yards out with 6:46 to play.
The teams traded possessions and Montclair took over at the Colonial 48 following a short punt. After a two-yard gain on the first play, Fischer hit Lewin down the middle of the field for a 46-yard strike as Montclair took the lead 7-3 with 1:21 left in the opening quarter.
The Colonials would take advantage of a short punt as well getting the ball at the Montclair 46. Sloat connected with Mike Keating (Fair Lawn, NJ / Fair Lawn) for 11 yards on a third down moving the ball to the MSU 27. Wayne Neal (Poughkeepsie, NY / Poughkeepsie) ran for 10 yards and short gain followed by a roughing the passer call spotted the ball at the MSU 11. Sloat then found Neal out of the backfield for an 11-yard touchdown as Western Connecticut regained the lead at 10-7 with 7:57 left before halftime.
Two possessions later Montclair would take the lead for good. Taking over at its own 49, Fischer found Keegan for 39 yards down to the WestConn 10. He then hooked up with Lewin on a 10-yard touchdown as Montclair led 14-10 heading into halftime.
The Red Hawks would get the ball to start the third, but were forced to punt after moving to the Colonials’ 39. Punter Steve Layden (Westampton, NJ / Rancocas Valley) pinned WestConn at its own 1 which turned out to be a big play. Forced to punt from the shadow of its own end zone, Montclair’s James Demild (Sayreville, NJ / Sayreville) blocked Sloat’s attempt out of the end zone for safety as MSU extended its lead to 16-10. Montclair then took the free kick and got down to the WestConn 1, however the Colonials made two key stops forcing a 20-yard field by Marco Capozzoli (Bloomfield, NJ / St. Joseph’s (Montvale)) as the score increased to 19-10 with 7:51 left in the third. The field goal was Capozzoli’s 30th career kick as he joined Anthony Colasurdo (1985-88) and Vin Doffont (2003-06) as the only players in school history to hit 30 field goals in a career.
Western Connecticut responded quickly as it marched 56 yards on the ensuing series for a touchdown trimming the lead to 19-17. A roughing the passer penalty on a third-down incompletion kept the drive going for the Colonials and the caught a second break when Tyler DeRosa (Miller Palce, NY / Miller Place) fumbled the ball on a completion only to be recovered at the MSU 33 by lineman Michael Schoenster (Milford, NJ / Law). On the next play, Williams hit a streaking Keating for the touchdown making the score 19-17 with 3:08 to go.
That’s when Jimenez took matters in to his own hands – or feet in this case. Another short kickoff gave Montclair the ball at its own 38 yardline. Jimenez went 11 yards on the first play and another 11 on the second to get the ball to the WestConn 40. On the third play he burst through the left side and raced down the sideline diving at the pylon for the touchdown as MSU restored its lead to 26-17 with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Montclair’s final touchdown came on 46 yard drive that followed another short punt. After a penalty moved MSU back to its own 49, Fischer hit Letizia for six yards. It was the 100th career reception for Letizia, who became the seventh player in MSU history to reach that mark and first since Eric Magrini in 2002. On the next play, Fischer found Keegan across the middle for a 45-yard touchdown as Montclair led 33-17.
Fischer finished 11-of-16 for 200 yards in the game with Lewin getting five of those for 90 yards. Keegan had three catches for 87 yards. Jimenez led the ground game which racked up 138 yards as MSU totaled 362 yards of offense. Linebackers Ed Kirschenbaum (Lake Como, NJ / Manasquan) and Brian Tweer (Butler, NJ / Butler) each had eight tackles for MSU with Kirschenbaum picking up the lone sack in the game. Dixon finished two tackles and four pass breakups giving him 37 for his career. The current NJAC leader in passed defended with 19, Dixon tied the mark set by Derrick Simmons in 2006.
Lionel Assie (Bridgeport, CT / Bassick) ran 10 times for 50 yards for the Colonials, who gained 115 yards on the ground and 245 overall in the game. Williams was 11-of-19 for 93 yards with Sloat completing 5-of-8 for 37 yards. Keating led all receivers with seven receptions for 70 yards. DeRosa ran for 26 yards and also had 128 on five kickoff returns. Greg Galasso (Brewster, NY / Brewster) had eight tackles to lead the WestConn defense while Matthew Pakulski (Naugatuck, CT/Holy Cross) added five including two for losses.
Both teams are on the road in South Jersey next week for NJAC contests. Montclair State will be in Glassboro to take on Rowan University in a 1:00 pm matchup at Richard Wackar Field at John Page Stadium. Western Connecticut is at Lions Stadium in Ewing for a 12:00 pm start against The College of New Jersey.