CORTLAND, N.Y. – Dan Pitcher (Cortland) threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Mike Humphrey (Le Roy) with one minute, three seconds remaining and Marc Corrado (Newburgh Free Academy) made the tiebreaking extra point as Cortland rallied to defeat previously unbeaten and nationally ranked Montclair State, 10-9, in a New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) game.
Montclair had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but Jake Delvento's (Island Heights, NJ/Toms River South) 30-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left as time expired.
Cortland improves to 7-1, both overall and in the NJAC, and is currently a half game ahead of both Montclair State and Rowan in the league standings. Montclair, ranked 13th nationally by the AFCA and 14th by D3football.com, and Rowan University are both 6-1 in the league and 7-1 overall. Cortland wraps up the NJAC season next Saturday at home versus William Paterson. Montclair has league games left at home versus Brockport and at William Paterson, while Rowan hosts Western Connecticut State and travels to The College of New Jersey to finish its league slate.
Montclair took a 6-0 lead with 9:13 left in the first quarter on a Matt Jimenez (Waldwick, NJ) 8-yard touchdown run. Delvento's extra point, however, was blocked by Lou Crispo (Eastchester). The Red Hawks' six-play, 38-yard scoring drive was set up by a Dan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ/West Essex) 39-yard punt return.
A Keegan 34-yard punt return to the Cortland 26-yard line early in the second quarter set up Montclair's next score. The Red Hawks were held on 3rd-and-1 at the 17-yard line and Delvento made a 33-yard field goal to extend the lead to 9-0.
Cortland's first scoring drive started from its own 20-yard line late in the third quarter. Justin Autera (Mahopac) ran for a combined 24 yards over five plays. Two plays later, on 3rd-and-11, Pitcher hit Humphrey on a 28-yard pass to the Montclair 28-yard line. The drive stalled at the 19-yard line when Autera was stopped for no gain on 3rd-and-1, but Corrado made a 36-yard field goal to close the deficit to six.
Cortland's next two drives stalled in Montclair territory. Montclair started a drive on its own 12-yard line with 2:19 left but was held to six yards over three plays. Cortland burned a timeout after each play and got the ball back on the Red Hawks' 39-yard line with 1:43 left.
Receptions by Rob Von Bargen (Massapequa) and Anthony Giuliano (Thornwood/Westlake) pushed the ball to the 19-yard line. Two plays later, Pitcher found Humphrey open in the back right corner of the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
Montclair's Yessy Tejada (Weehawken, NJ/St. Joseph's (WNY)) returned the ensuing kickoff 23 yards to his own 40-yard line. The Red Hawks then earned two of their three second-half first downs as Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ) threw three consecutive passes of 12, nine and 17 yards to Byron Lewin (Carteret, NJ). With less than 40 seconds left, Fischer connected with Keegan on a 4-yard pass and rushed for two yards on a QB draw. A Jimenez 3-yard run set up 4th-and-1 at the Cortland 13-yard line with 7.1 seconds left and led to Delvento's missed field goal.
Autera led Cortland with 122 rushing yards on 34 carries, including 20 rushes for 89 yards in the second half. Pitcher was 11-of-26 passing for 119 yards, with Giuliano making five catches for 57 yards. Pitcher has now thrown at least one TD pass in a game in a school-record 10 straight contests.
Cody Allen (Medina) and Bill Smith (Nanuet) recorded eight tackles each. Joe Lopez (Port Jefferson Station/Comsewogue) intercepted a pass late in the end zone late in the first half for his sixth pick of the season. Lopez has tied a school record with interceptions in four straight games – a mark originally established by Steve Daly in 1975.
For Montclair, Fischer finished 16-of-28 passing for 140 yards. Lewin caught 10 of those passes for 107 yards and A.J. Scoppa (New Milford, NJ) ran 12 times for 44 yards. Keegan returned three punts for 102 total yards. Ed Kirschenbaum (Lake Como, NJ/Manasquan) made a game-high 13 tackles, eight solo, and Mario McLean (Boonton, NJ/Montville) recorded nine stops. Kevin Cloghessy (Hempstead) intercepted a pass in the first half.
Cortland finished with a slight 255-227 advantage in total offensive yardage. The teams combined for 23 punts – 12 by Montclair and 11 by Cortland.