Montclair, NJ (12/9/10) - Montclair State placed four players on the D3Football.com All-East Region Team as the organization announced its four regional squads on Thursday. A record 815 players were nominated throughout the country in the four regions with 228 earning honors. It is the sixth straight season that D3Football.com has selected All-Region teams.
Junior punter Joe Liscio (Little Falls, NJ / Passaic Valley) was named to the First-Team while junior Dan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ / Fairfield) was selected as a returner on the Second Team. Senior linebacker Ed Kirschenbaum (Lake Como, NJ / Manasquan) and senior cornerback Gary Knoeppel (West Long Branch, NJ / Shore Regional) collected spots on the Third Team. All four players were chosen First-Team All-NJAC last month.
Liscio, Keegan, Kirschenbaum and Knoeppel were instrumental in helping Montclair State to a second consecutive 10-2 season, the first time that MSU has won 10 games in back-to-back seasons since 1985 and 1986. The Red Hawks, who were ranked in the D3Football.com Top 25 poll for much of the season, also captured a share of the NJAC championship for a second consecutive year and earned one of the six at-large berths in the NCAA Division III Playoffs. Montclair knocked off Hampden-Sydney in the opening round 16-14 before falling to No. 1 overall seed and third-ranked Wesley in the second round.
Liscio averaged 35.3 yards per punt this season which was sixth in the NJAC in terms of average. However, the junior was tremendous in the field position game helping Montclair State to the No. 2 ranking in the conference in net punting at 32.3 yards per attempt. In 71 kicks this past season, Liscio amassed 2,507 yards and had a four punts of 50-plus yards, including a season-best 60 yard boot against Cortland on October 30. An NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week selection, Liscio downed 25 punts inside the opponent's 20 yardline in 2010 and forced 16 fair catches.
What Liscio was in the punt department, Keegan was every bit as valuable in the punt return game. The NJAC Special Teams Player of the Year, the junior shattered the MSU single-season record for punt return yards as he registered 537 on 25 runbacks. He broke Rashon Moore's 1999 mark of 427 return yards and also had a 75-yard return for a touchdown against Westfield State in the season opener. Keegan averaged 21.5 yards per return and broke the the single-season mark by more than five yards (Ed Chavis in 1986). Keegan led the NJAC in punt returns and was ranked second in Division III.
Kirschenbaum and Knoeppel played an integral part in a Red Hawk defense that ranked not only atop the NJAC in several statistical categories, but in Division III as well. Montclair led the NJAC in total defense this season (243.82 yards per game) and ranked in the Top 15 in the nation in pass efficiency defense (4th), scoring defense (10th) and pass defense (14th).
Kirschenbaum topped the 100-tackle mark for the season and also surpassed 200 for his career as he led Montclair with 115 stops. He was third in the league in tackles per game and also ranked second in tackles for loss recording 14.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Kirschenbaum, a D3Football.com "Team of the Week" pick during the year, also collected a team-best 5.5 sacks (5th in the NJAC), including 3.5 against The College of New Jersey in a 30-14 win on October 9. Kirschenbaum had five games with 10 or more tackles and forced two fumbles. Kirschenbaum came up with big plays during the season. He was responsible for 10 points off the scoreboard in the NCAA win over Hampden-Sydney as he recorded a sack that led to a missed field goal and a forced fumble at the one yardline that was recovered by the Red Hawks ending a potential touchdown drive by the Tigers.
Knoeppel too had the knack for making the big play. He sealed Montclair State's win against Hampden-Sydney with an interception late in the game in addition to returning two interceptions for touchdowns in victories over Kean and The College of New Jersey in consecutive weeks. Knoeppel had 53 total tackles and a team-leading six interceptions (for 96 yards) while also batting away six other pass attempts. Knoeppel ranked third in the NJAC in interceptions and was fourth in the league in passes defended with 12.