Football Remains in NJAC Hunt, 27-22

Box Score

Montclair, NJ (11/6/10) –  Juniors Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston) andDan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ / West Essex) connected on two touchdown passes while linebackers Dan Avento(Montvale, NJ / Pascack Hills) and Ed Kirschenbaum (Lake Como, NJ / Manasquan) each had scores in different ways as Montclair State bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 27-22 victory over College at Brockport at Sprague Field on Saturday afternoon.

Senior cornerback Gary Knoeppel (West Long Branch, NJ / Shore Regional) intercepted a pair of passes as the Red Hawks (8-1) remained in the hunt for the NJAC title. The Red Hawks are 7-1 in the league, tied with Rowan as both teams remain a half-game behind Cortland (8-1 NJAC), which clinched a share of the championship with a win over William Paterson. Montclair faces William Paterson with Rowan heading to TCNJ in the season finale next Saturday, November 13. 

Should both Montclair and Rowan win next week it would force a three-way tie for the conference championship with the automatic bid being award via tiebreaker scenarios. Also at stake for both teams will be a chance at a Pool C bid for the NCAA Division III Playoffs as Rowan, Cortland and MSU came into the week ranked second, fourth and fifth respectively in the latest regional rankings. 

Sophomore quarterback Joseph Scililia (North Tonawanda, NY / Starpoint) totaled 279 yards of offense and all three touchdowns (one rush, two pass) for Brockport, which suffered its third straight loss. The Golden Eagles fell to 2-7 overall, 2-6 in the NJAC. Linebacker Nathan Bull (Brockport, NY / Brockport), the NJAC leader and No. 6 ranked player in Division III in tackles, had an amazing 21 tackles (12 unassisted) along with a sack. Brockport closes out its schedule next week at home against Upstate New York rival Buffalo State at 1:00 pm.

Each team put up scores in the first three-plus minutes starting with Montclair State. Avento stripped and recovered a fumble by Scibilia on the second play giving the Red Hawks the ball at the Borckport 40. On the first play after the turnover, Fischer hit Keegan down the left sideline for the touchdown as Montclair grabbed a 7-0 lead 37 seconds in.  

Brockport would come right back with a 49-yard drive, 30 of it coming from Scibilia on a run down to the MSU 16 on a 3-rd-and-7. Two plays later, Scibilia found Joseph Innes (Unadilla, NY / Unatego) for a 13-yard touchdown however Brockport missed the extra point making the score 7-6. 

Montclair would add to the lead midway through the quarter thanks to a defensive touchdown. After pinning the Golden Eagles at the 9, Avento stepped in front of a Scibilia pass on third-down and rambled 16 yards for the touchdown as the Red Hawks extended their lead to 13-6 with 6:22 to go in the first.

Fischer-to-Keegan for 33-yards finished off a 10-play, 83-yard drive the bridged the two quarters as Montclair pushed the lead to 20-6 with 14:07 left before half. 

Later in the half, a blocked punt by Brockport gave the Golden Eagles good field position at the MSU 43 but they couldn’t capitalize and gave to ball back to MSU at the Red Hawks’ 13 just past the midway point of the quarter. 

Montclair State then drove the ball 72 yards down to the Brockport 15 before stalling. The Red Hawks then elected to go for a field goal and the Golden Eagles called timeout to ice the kicker. After the break, holder James Melody (Union, NJ / Union) pulled the snap and rolled out to his right before finding Kirschebaum down the sideline for the touchdown as Montclair led 27-6 at the half. 

But Brockport turned thing around in the second half as Alex Hayes (Fulton, NY / John C. Briddlebough) intercepted a pass at the MSU 30 a minute into the period and the Golden Eagles turned that into a touchdown as Scibilia plunged in from two yards out to cut the MSU lead to 27-13 with 11:41 showing on the clock. 

On its next possession, the Golden Eagles played a huge gamble going for a 4th-and-1 at their own 22. Montclair would stop the rush attempt to take over however the Red Hawks couldn’t cash in on the chance either as Jake DelVento(Island Heights, NJ / Toms River South) 41-yard attempt hit off the right upright. 

In the fourth quarter, E.J. Genzano (Albany, NY / Guilderland) connected from 35 yards out to trim the lead to 27-16. After a Montclair punt on the next possession, Brockport went on a mammoth 19-play, 91-yard drive that chewed up 5:12 of the final eight minutes. Scibilia converted a third down early in the drive with a seven-yard run and the possession was kept alive as Montclair was flagged for roughing the kicker putt the ball at the Brockport 48. A Scibilia run for six yards on third down kept things moving and he went 10 yards on 4th-and-5 as the Golden Eagles got to the MSU 23. Scibilia then connected with Jake Spalik (Johnson City, NY / Johnson City) twice, the second from five yards for a touchdown as the MSU dwindled to 27-22 with 2:58. 

Brockport failed to recover the onsides kick but Montclair would be forced to punt the ball back with 1:09 left. Scibilia got a first down to his own 32 with a five-yard run with 47 seconds remaining. But on the next play, his pass attempt bounced off a receiver and defender before falling into the hands of MSU’s Andrey Green (East Orange, NJ / East Orange) as the Red Hawks closed out the victory.

Fischer was 19-of-33 for 276 yards with Joe LaSala (Colonia, NJ / Colonia) getting six catches for 96 yards. Byron Lewin (Carteret, NJ / Carteret) had four receptions (36 yards) while Keegan and Matt Jimenez (Waldwick, NJ / Waldwick) each had three receptions for 86 and 32 yards respectively. Jimenez rushed 23 times for 69 yards as MSU racked up 366 yards of total offense. Defensively Kirschenbaum posted 14 tackles while Avento added 11 along with a breakup. Kevin Bradley (Belleville, NJ / Seton Hall Prep) made 10 stops. 

Scibilia ran 28 times for 139 of Brockports 158 yards rushing. He also completed 18-of-40 passes for 140 yards with Spalik pulling in seven receptions for 77 yards. Hayes finished with nine tackles for Brockport which got seven and an interception from Jim Carlson (Port Henry, NY / Moriah). Brockport finished with 298 yards of total offense.