Football Stays Unbeaten; MSU Knocks Off Buffalo State, 35-20

Box Score

Montclair, NJ (10/16/10) –  Junior wide receiver Dan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ / West Essex) pulled in six catches for 133 yards and a single-game record three touchdown receptions as No. 14/16 Montclair State posted its 14th consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference victory with a 35-20 win over Buffalo State at Sprague Field on Saturday afternoon.

Junior quarterback Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston) threw for 290 yards and four touchdown passes as the Red Hawks improved to 6-0 for the ninth time in school history and the first time since 2001. Montclair State is now 8-2 overall against Buffalo State, including five straight wins. 

Sophomore quarterback Ryan Lehotsky (N. Royalton, OH / N. Royalton) completed 18-of-29 passes for 221 yards and two touchdown passes while also running for a score as the Bengals fell to 1-5 overall, 1-4 in the NJAC. 

Keegan, who finished with 232 all-purpose yards in the game, set up Montclair’s first touchdown as he returned a punt 45 yards to the Buffalo State 28 yardline. After a Matt Jimenez (Waldwick, NJ / Waldwick) pushed the ball to the 13, Keggan hauled in a tipped pass by Fischer before racing 13 yards for the score and a 7-0 lead with 7:58 to go in the first quarter.

The Bengals would answer with a 72-yard drive on the ensuing possession. Lehotsky completed two passes to move the ball out to the Buffalo State 47. On third-and-3, Lehotsky found Rob Smith (Rochester, NY / McQuaid) over the middle. Smith broke away from a defender and raced the final yardage for a 53-yard touchdown as the Bengals closed within 7-6. Montclair’s John Gauweiler (Towaco, NJ / Montville) blocked the extra point as MSU remained in front. 

Keegan struck again later in the quarter with a 54-yard punt return to the Bengals’ 23-yardline. A penalty moved the ball five more yards and on the first play, Jimenez raced around the left side for the touchdown as Montclair State led 14-6 after one quarter.

Special teams would prove to be big in the second as punter Joe Liscio (Little Falls, NJ / Passaic Valley) pinned the Bengals inside their own 2 with a punt. After failing to move the chains, Buffalo State punted and the strong winds at Sprague throughout the afternoon limited the kick to just 29 yards giving Montclair the ball at the Buffalo State 39. After an incomplete pass and no gain on a rush, Fischer found Keegan for a 39-yard touchdown as the Red Hawks led 21-6 at halftime. 

The Bengals began the second half with a 12-play, 70-yard drive that ended as Lehotsky barreling in from two yards out for the touchdown. Montclair’s Travis Woods (Edison, NJ /Edison) would block the extra point as Montclair led 21-12 with 9:13 left. Buffalo State forced a turnover on the ensuing possession and took over at the Montclair 33 yardline. After failing to convert on the first three downs, the Bengals went for it on 4th down. Woods came up big again with a sack and fumble as MSU took possession. 

That proved to be a momentum changer as the Red Hawks went 65 yards for the touchdown. Fischer connected with Keegan for 18 yards midfield. Three plays later the two combined again for a 26-yard touchdown as Montclair State went up 28-12. The reception was Keegan’s third tying him with Don Matucci (1974), Ed Chavis (1986), Jameel Dorsey (2000) and Jasper Hankins (twice) for the MSU single-game record.

Montclair’s final touchdown came early in the fourth quarter with a 65-yard drive that ended with Fischer connecting withJoe LaSala (Clark, NJ / Colonia) on a 46-yard touchdown with 10:38 remaining.

Lehotsky found Zachary Best (Henrietta, NY / Rush-Henrietta) for an 11-yard touchdown toss to cap the scoring.

Fishcer completed 13-of-18 passes for Montclair State, which rolled up 430 yards of offense. Jimenez paced the ground attack with 79 yards on 17 carries. Byron Lewin (Carteret, NJ / Carteret) had two catches, including the 100th of his career in the second quarter as he became just the eighth player in school history to accomplish that feat. Liscio averaged 39.2 yards per punt on the day. Defensively, Gary Knoeppel (West Long Branch, NJ / Shore Regional) and linebacker Dan Avento (Montvale, NJ / Pascack Hills) had nine tackles apiece. Shaun Bach (Upper Saddle River, NJ / Northern Highlands) had six tackles, a sack, fumble recovery and pass breakup.

Manny Brooks (Auburn, NY / Auburn) ran for 70 yards on 11 carries for the Bengals, who accumulated 365 yards of offense. Matt Pagano (Walworth, NY / Gananda) had seven receptions for 67 yards with Smith pulling in four for 44 yards. Matthew Krumm (Buffalo, NY / Clarence) led the Bengals with eight tackles.

Both teams are back in action next week in NJAC games. Montclair State is in Danbury, CT to face Western Connecticut State University at Noon. Buffalo State is back home at Coyer Field at the same time hosting The College of New Jersey.