Montclair, NJ (10/8/11) – Senior kickerJake DelVento (Island Heights, NJ / Toms River South) waited nearly a year for this opportunity. This time around, he made sure it didn't slip away. DelVento connected from 32 yards with 1:16 remaining as No. 7/11 Montclair State, in a wild, back-and-forth game, edged Cortland 34-33 at Sprague Field on Saturday afternoon.
Senior running back Chris D'Andrea (Union, NJ / Union) rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns as the Red Hawks overcame a 19 consecutive points by the Red Dragons (3-2, 3-2 NJAC) to improve to 5-0 on the year, 4-0 in the NJAC.
Senior quarterback Dan Pitcher (Cortland, NY / Cortland) threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns as Cortland rallied back from 31-14 down to take a 33-31 lead with 4:56 on a safety only to be thwarted by DelVento's game-winning kick.
The field goal, DelVento's second of the game, was redemption for last year's 10-9 loss to the Red Dragons. In that game, Cortland scored the last 10 points to take a one-point lead with just over minute remaining. Montclair moved quickly down the field and got in range for a 30-yard field with three seconds left. However, DelVento's attempt sailed left giving Cortland the victory.
Cortland's Marc Corrado (Newburgh, NY / Newburgh Free Academy) tied the game at 31-31 with 6:34 remaining as he connected from 28 yards out. On the ensuing kickoff, Montclair was pinned at its own nine yards. On third down, Connor Tompkins (Ossining, NY / Sleepy Hollow) and Steve Gruber (Thornwood, NY / Westlake) combined to sack quarterback Drew Cathey (East Rutherford, NJ / Becton Regional) in the end zone giving the Red Dragons a 33-31 lead with 4:56 remaining.
Cortland got the ball back on the free kick but was forced to punt giving the Red Hawks the ball at the MSU 22 with 3:05 left. Cathey completed a 3rd-and-1 to give Montclair a first down at the 36. Three plays later, Cathey found rookie Gerald Silvera (West Orange, NJ / West Orange) down the left sideline for 41 yards down to the Cortland 17 with 1:50 left.
Like it did last year, the Red Hawks then moved the ball to the center of the field giving DelVento the chance. This time he buried the ball straight through the uprights with 76 seconds left.
Cortland would get one last chance with 1:11 on the clock. Pitcher escaped a sack for two yards on first down and threw two incomplete passes making it fourth down. On the play, Pitcher scrambled his way out of the pocket and surveyed the field for several seconds before throwing. The pass though was batted down at the line by Dan Avento (Hillsdale, NJ / Pascack Hills) as Montclair State ended the game with two kneel downs.
Both teams game out flying in the first quarter with 14 points apiece, including a touchdown pass from Pitcher to John Babin (Warwick Valley, NY / Warwick Valley) for 20 yards, which was immediately followed by Silvera's 42-yard reception, his first collegiate touchdown, from Tom Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston).
Montclair State then took advantage of two Red Dragon miscues in the second quarter to build a 24-14 halftime lead. A short punt led to a 33-yard field goal by DelVento with 10 minutes left and later, after Kevin Cloghessy (West Hempstead, NY / West Hempstead) interception, D'Andrea's raced in from seven yards as MSU took its 10-point lead into halftime. The lead could have been more as MSU late in the half got down to the Cortland 15 with 22 seconds left. But Joe Kirschner (Holbrook, NY / Sachem North) sacked Cathey forcing a fumble which was recovered by Tompkins.
In the second half, Cortland drove 68 yards to the MSU 2 before the drive stalled. Corrado came on to attempt a field goal however the snap came out low. Holder Mike Humphrey (Le Roy, NY / Le Roy) tried to complete a pass, but that was picked off by Avento ending the drive.
Montclair quickly capitalized as D'Andrea ran for 1, 10 and 14 yards on consecutive plays getting the ball out to the MSU 40. On the next play, D'Andrea burst though the right side and outraced several defenders to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown as Montclair led 31-14 with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
Cortland answered back with 60-yard drive capped off by Pitcher's five-yard TD pass to Humphrey to cut the score to 31-21 after three quarters. In the fourth, a short punt gave the Red Dragons good field position at the MSU 43. Two plays in, Pitcher connected with Babin for a 44-yard strike the MSU lead shrunk to 31-28 with 11:30 left in the fourth.
Cortland's next possession ended with the tying field goal by Corrado as the highest scoring game in the 28 meetings between the teams was tied at 31-31.
D'Andrea carried 28 times for Montclair while Fischer was 9-of-18 for 153 yards before leaving the game late in the second quarter. Cathey finished 8-of-14 for 106 yards. Silvera had four catches for 100 yards while Vin Fischer (Livingston, NJ / Livingston) had five for 57 yards. Avento led the defense with 15 tackles while Alex Iachetta (Spring Lake Heights, NJ / Manasquan) had seven tackles.
Pitcher finished 18-of-32 with Babin collecting six for 138 yards and both touchdowns. Humphrey had four receptions for 47 yards. Bronson Greene (Clifton Park, NY / Shenendehowa) rushed for 118 yards on 30 carries and also caught three balls for 53 yards. Steven Lenhart (Ticonderoga, NY / Ticonderoga) had nine tackles while Vaughn Labor (Norwich, NY / Norwich) and Bill Smith (Nanuet, NY / Nanuet) each had seven tackles.
Both teams return to action next Saturday, October 15. Montclair State is home to local and NJAC rival William Paterson at 6:00 pm. Cortland heads back out on the road at Western Connecticut at Noon.