Montclair, NJ (9/11/10) – Senior running back Chris D’Andrea (Union, NJ / Union) collected 221 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns as 23rd-ranked Montclair State scored 28 second-half points en route to a 34-0 shutout of Westfield State in the Red Hawks’ home opener at Sprague Field on Saturday afternoon.
Junior Dan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ / West Essex) added 197 all-purpose yards, including a 75-yard punt return for a score as the Red Hawks held Westfield State to just 103 total yards while registering its first opening day shutout since 2001 when it blanked Wilkes University (28-0).
Sophomore linebacker Justin Ehrhardt (Stoneham, MA / Stoneham) recorded 13 tackles for the Owls, who fell to 1-1.
The Red Hawks dominated nearly every statistical category as MSU totaled 472 yards of offense, including 251 on the ground. Yet despite outgaining Westfield 197-18 in the first half and holding the ball for almost 20 minutes, Montclair managed just six points while missing several other scoring opportunities.
On its second drive of the game, Montclair went 15 plays and 52 yards using up 7:05 on the clock only to come out empty handed as the snap a 40 yard field goal attempt was mishandled. In the second quarter, Montclair marched 82 yards from its own 12 down to the Westfield 6. But three incomplete passes stalled the drive and the Red Hawks settled for a 23-yard field goal by Jake Delvento (Island Heights, NJ / Toms River South) for a 3-0 lead with 9:43 to go before half.
MSU would get within the Westfield 20 yard line later in the quarter, however this time a Delvento 29-yard field goal went wide left with 1:17 to go. Using its timeouts in addition to an incomplete pass, Montclair got the ball back at the Westfield 48 with 16 seconds. On the first play, Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston) hit brother Vin for a 16-yard yard gain to the Westfield 32 with five ticks on the clock. Delvento would come on and nail a 49-yard attempt as time expired giving the Red Hawks a 6-0 lead at halftime. The kick was the longest field goal for Montclair since Vinny Doffont’s 49-yard attempt against Iona in the 2005 season opener.
Montclair State had another chance to extend it lead in the third quarter. Backed up to its own seven, D’Andrea raced 55 yards to move the ball to the Westfield 29. The Red Hawks would eventually get to the three, however it could not convert a 4th-and-goal and the game remained at 6-0.
On its next possession, Montclair finally found the end zone as Fischer hit D’Andrea out of the backfield. D’Andrea broke away from three tacklers before going the final yardage in a 45-yard score as MSU led 13-0 with 31 seconds left in the third. The Owls went three-and-out on its next possession and Chris Stengel (Baldwin, MD / North Harford) got off a booming 50-yard kick that backed Keegan up to the MSU 25. The junior then evaded two tacklers before slipping through several others along the right sideline for the 75-yard score and a 19-0 lead at the end of three quarters. It was Keegan’s second career punt return touchdown.D’Andrea would add his rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter as he scampered 42 yards down the left sideline with 8:32 to go to make the score 27-0. Freshman A.J. Scoppa (New Milford, NJ / New Milford) accounted for the final scored as he accounted for the final 41 yards of a 60-yard drive with 4:25 on the clock.
The Owls would come within eight yards of averting the shutout as Westfield moved 64 yards down to the MSU 8 inside the final minute. But Matt Mancino (Wall, NJ / Wall) picked off a pass in the end zone to end the threat with 22 seconds.
D’Andrea finished with 16 carries for 174 yards rushing while Matt Jimenez (Waldwick, NJ / Waldwick) added 57 on 18 rushes. Fischer was 12-of-26 for 202 yards with Keegan and Byron Lewin (Carteret, NJ / Carteret) each pulling in three passes for 70 and 44 yards, respectively.
Defensively for MSU, linebacker Ed Kirschenbaum (Lake Como, NJ / Manasquan) led the team with nine tackles whileKevin Cloghessy (West Hempstead, NY / West Hempstead) and freshman Dan Avento (Montvale, NJ / Pascack Hills) each had five tackles. Bobby Skinner (Staten Island, NY / New Dorp) and Antonio Sibilia (Nutley, NJ / Nutley) each had a sack.
For Westfield State, Luke Johnson (South Attleboro, MA / Attleboro) ran for 28 yards on 18 carries. Quarterback Dylan Smith (Worcester, MA / Burncoat) was 2-for-4 for 28 yards while Kevin Parnell (Berlin, CT / Berlin) had two receptions. Defensive back Ryan O’Connell (Athol, MA / Athol) had nine tackles and a forced fumble.
Montclair State is back home next Saturday, September 18 as the Red Hawks open defense of their New Jersey Athletic Conference championship. MSU will face Rowan University at 1:00 pm. Westfield State is back out on the road as the Owls head to Western New England College at the same time.