Montclair, NJ (9/10/11) – Senior running back Chris D'Andrea (Union, NJ / Union) waited 344 days for this opportunity and he made the most of it rushing for 239 yards and two touchdowns in his return to the Montclair State lineup as the 11th-ranked Red Hawks knocked off Salve Regina University, 18-7 in their home opener at Sprague Field on Saturday afternoon.
MSU's defense limited the Seahawks to 130 yards of total offense and recorded six sacks as Montclair extended its home winning streak to 12 games overall and 23 regular-season home contests while also capturing their home opener for the 45th time in 81 seasons.
Junior safety Maxwell Shubert (West Chester, APA / West Chester Rustin) returned an interception 73 yards for the lone Salve Regina touchdown as the Seahawks fell to 1-1 on the season.
D'Andrea had touchdown runs of 44 and 75 yards in his return to field after missing the final seven games last season with a broken foot. Last season, he had rushed for 413 yards and three touchdowns in the first four games of 2010. He immediately made his presence felt in the first Red Hawk drive rushing for 55 yards.
But the drive took ended up in misfortune for Montclair State after driving to the Salve Regina 33. On second down, Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston) threw a pass over the middle that deflected off the hands of the receiver and into the arms of Shubert, who then avoided several tacklers before racing down the right sideline for the touchdown as the Seahawks grabbed a 7-0 lead with 8:58 to play in the first quarter.
Things got even better for Salve Regina on the ensuing kickoff as Mark Moore's (Hattiesburg, MS Hattiesburg) kickoff was misplayed and recovered by the Seahawks at the Montclair 27. Salve moved to the 16 yardline however on first down Jimmy Connelly's (Berlin, CT / Berlin) pass toward the end zone was tipped up by a defensive back and picked off by Kevin Cloghessy (West Hempstead, NY / West Hempstead) for a touchback as Montclair dodged a bullet and trailed by only 7-0.
After the Cloghessy interception, the Red Hawks marched down the field converting a pair of third downs as Fischer hit brother Vinny with a 26-yard pass on 3rd-and-10. Montclair would get to the Salve 29 but stalled and a 46-yard field goal by Jake DelVento (Island Heights, NJ / Toms River South) put the MSU on the board as they trailed 7-3 after the first quarter.
Montclair State's defense began to tighten on the Seahawks and while it did, the offense began to pick up the pace. The next time it touched the ball, D'Andrea burst through the right side for a 44-yard touchdown run with 11:24 remaining as Montclair took the lead 9-7 as the extra-point attempt failed on a bad snap from center.
Salve Regina managed to move the ball on its next possession to the Montclair 25, however instead of opting for the field goal, the Seahawks went for it on fourth down and came up empty as Connelly's pass fell incomplete.
It took, Montclair just one play to answer as D'Andrea took a handoff through the right side, cut back across the field and pulled away from any would-be tacklers as he raced 75 yards for the touchdown giving Montclair State a 15-7 lead with 6:26.
That's the lead MSU would maintain heading into the locker room and after getting the ball to start the second half, they appeared ready to extend the lead as D'Andrea ran for 48 yards and Tom Fischer eight on a 4th-and-2 as Montclair got the Salve Regina 1. But an unlucky bounce ended the drive for the Red Hawks as Fischer found Dan Keegan (Fairfield, NJ / West Essex) in the back of the end zone however as Keegan tried to complete the act of catching, the ball popped up and was picked by Anthony Hannon (Yorba Linda, CA / Servite) for a touchback.
The turnover, Montclair's third of the game, did not hurt the Red Hawks as they sent the Seahawks three-and-out and got the ball back at the Salve Regina 36. MSU maneuvered down to the Salve Regina four yardline before DelVento came on to connect from 21 yards out as Montclair increased its lead to 18-7.
From there it was left to the Montclair State defense. MSU, which ranked 14th in total defense in Division III last year, shut down the Seahawks offense limiting them to just 13 yards of total offense until the final drive when Salve Regina collected 37 yards.
D'Andrea, who finished with 253 all-purpose yards in the game, carried 21 times, averaging 11.4 yards per carry. Fischer was 15-of-23 for 126 yards through the air. Senior Byron Lewin (Carteret, NJ / Carteret) had four catches for 37 yards while Vin Fischer, Gerald Silvera (West Orange, NJ / West Orange) and Keegan all had three receptions apiece. The three grabs for Keegan gave him 99 for his career.
Defensively, the Red Hawks were led by sophomore linebacker Dan Avento (Hillsdale, NJ / Pascack Hills) who had seven tackles as MSU held the Seahawks running attack, which rushed for 233 yards in last week's win versus Union, to just 29 total yards as they bottle up running back Richie Edwards (Trumbull, CT / Trumbull) to 69 yards on 16 carries. Last week, Edwards had 230 yards again Union. Connelly was 9-of-20 for 101 yards with Trey Scales (Boston, MA / Concord-Carlisle) pulling in three passes.
Matthew Markese (West Hartford, CT / Suffield Academy) led the way defensively for the Seahawks with 12 tackles while A.J. Albert (Franklin Park, NJ / Immaculata) had 10 tackles. Shubert and Hannon both had eight tackles as did Greg Gosselin (Kingston, MA / Silver Lake).
Both teams are in action next weekend. Montclair State, the preseason favorite in the NJAC, opens up conference play on the road at Morrisville State. Salve Regina returns home for a Noon kickoff versus Framingham State.