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Red Hawks click in all facets in NJAC opening victory, defeat Morrisville 52-0

Release courtesy of Mike Scala, Montclair State Sports Information Director

Montclair, NJ (9/19/09) – Sophomore quarterback Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston) threw three first-half touchdowns while the Montclair State defense forced four turnovers and limited Morrisville State to 156 yards as the Red Hawks posted a resounding 52-0 victory a New Jersey Athletic Conference contest at Sprague Field on Saturday afternoon.

Senior defensive end Chris Merkle (Nutley, NJ / Nutley) recorded four sacks while Dan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ / West Essex) returned a punt 57 yards for a score as the Red Hawks evened their record at 1-1 overall (1-0 in the NJAC). The win was the largest margin of victory for MSU since a 63-7 win over Kean in 2001 and its largest shutout triumph since a 65-0 drubbing of Ramapo College in 1987.

Sophomore running back / kick returner Maurice Mitchelson (Bronx, NY / John F. Kennedy) had 193 all-purpose yards for the Mustangs, who fell to 0-3 this season, 0-2 in the NJAC.

Montclair, which scored on each of its first three possessions, wasted little time getting on the board as they took the ensuing kickoff and drove 58 yards in eight plays for a 7-0 lead. Fischer was 4-for-4 on the drive, including a 15-yard strike to Scott Kubrak (Caldwell, NJ / Caldwell) in the end zone for the touchdown. Following a Morrisville punt, MSU extended the lead as it moved 39 yards in eight plays. Fischer to Kubrak for 24 yards got the ball inside the Mustangs 15. Six plays later, Fischer found James Demild (Sayreville, NJ / Sayreville) in the back corner for the end zone as MSU led 14-0 with 3:39 to play in the opening period.

Morrisville would try to answer back as it drove the ball to the MSU 16 on its next possession. But Merkle came up with the first of his big plays in the game taking down Jamieson Crast (Mannsville, NY / South Jefferson) for a 10-yard loss on fourth down ending the threat. Montclair then swung the ball down the field in the other direction as Fischer hit Keegan for 14 yards on 3rd-and-10 to move the ball to the Morrisville 49. Two plays later on a 3rd-and-17, Keegan hauled in a 41-yard catch-and-run from Fischer as the Red Hawks led 21-0.

A 42-yard interception return by Jesse Shenker (Freehold, NJ / Freehold Township) would lead to the next MSU touchdown. Matt Jimenez (Waldwick, NJ / Waldwick) would cover the final 31 yards, including an 11-yard run for the score as Montclair State led 28-0 at the half.

The special teams would come up big for MSU in the second half. Ed Kirschenbaum (Lake Como, NJ / Manasquan) raced through and blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone by Taylor Bonner (Old Bridge, NJ / Old Bridge) with 8:59 to go in the third. Morrisville would turn the ball over as Merkle came up with the fumble recovery leading to Chris D’Andrea’s (Union, NJ / Union) nine-yard run as Montclair went up 42-0 with 7:43 left in the third.

Keegan would add his touchdown on the seventh play of the fourth quarter before Marco Capozzoli (Bloomfield, NJ / Bloomfield) connected from 31 yards out for the final score.

Fischer was 12-of-19 for 167 yards as Montclair racked up 342 yards of offense. Freshman Peter Nagy (East Hanover, NJ / Hanover Park) led the way rushing with 64 yards on 11 carries while also making six tackles and special teams and forcing two fumbles. Jeff Bliss (New Milford, NJ / New Milford) added 49 yards on the ground while Kubrak had four catches for 63 yards. Defensively, Merkle led the Red Hawks with eight tackles (five unassisted) and the four sacks for minus-33 yards. He also had a pass breakup. Shenker and Gary Knoeppel (West Long Branch, NJ / Shore Regional) each had five tackles while safety Mario McLean (Montville, NJ / Montville) added four tackles, a breakup and a sack.

For Morrisville, Tommy Moyon (Woodside, NY / Proctor Academy) and Darry Albright (Long Beach, NY / Long Beach) each had five tackles. Mitchelson had 54 yards rushing and also caught two passes while recording 131 yards in kickoff returns, including a 40-yard runback. Crast was 11-of-29 for 81 yards with Kyle Gordon (Riverhead, NY / Riverhead) pulling down four of those completions for 36 yards.

Both teams are back in action with NJAC road contests. Montclair State will travel to College at Brockport for a 1:00 pm while Morrisville heads back to the Garden State to face The College of New Jersey in Ewing at 12:00 pm.