MORRISVILLE, NY - Hartwick football led a tight game throughout the night and emerged with a season opening 14-11 win at Morrisville State on Saturday night at Drake Stadium.
Senior running back Anthony Casimano (Gansevoort, NY/Schuylerville HS) rushed for 152 yards on 28 carries with one touchdown and he sealed the game in the final minutes with a few crucial runs. Senior linebacker Jordan Spirou (Westbury, NY/WT Clarke) led the 'Wick defense with a career-high 21 tackles and two sacks.
Morrisville cut the Hartwick lead to 14-11 with a touchdown 3:22 into the fourth quarter. After the Hawks punted on their next possession, the Mustangs drove into Hartwick territory, but freshman linebacker Chad Rose (Candor, NY/Candor HS) picked off Morrisville quarterback TJ McLaughlin to quell the drive.
After both teams punted on their next possessions, the Hawks got the ball back with 4:29 left and never relinquished it. Facing a fourth and two on the Morrisville 38 yard-line with just over three minutes left, Casimano used a three-yard rumble to get the first down allowing 'Wick to kill more clock.
On the next series Hartwick had a third down and seven with 1:56 to play, but Casimano broke free for a 13-yard gain for a first down to put the game away as Morrisville was out of timeouts.
Hartwick quarterback Dan Brainard (Owego, NY/Owego Free Academy) threw for 127 yards connecting on 8-of-19 passes. He threw one touchdown to Jordan Wilkins (Portsmouth, NH/Hyde School) and one interception. Wilkins caught three passes for 68 yards, including a 43-yard catch on the last play of the first quarter.
The Hawks, who accumulated 281 yards of offense on the night, had difficulty hanging on to the football in the early going. Three different players fumbled away the ball on three of 'Wick's first five possessions. Luckily the Hawks earned a touchdown on their third drive, going 80 yards on seven plays. Brainard hit wide receiver Frankie Molina (Middletown, NY/Middletown) for a 38-yard pass on the drive which was capped by a Casimano 10-yard run. Alex Tesoriero (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia) added the extra point.
Morrisville scored its first points with a 26-yard field goal later in the first quarter to make the score 7-3. The Mustangs threatened late in the first half, driving all the way to the Hartwick six yard-line with 23 seconds left. A holding penalty pushed them back and Spirou put an end to any Morrisville scoring ideas as he sacked quarterback Lemar Johnson for a 14-yard loss.
In the third quarter, a Hawks' holding penalty in their own end zone would hand the Mustangs another two points to make the score 7-5, but that would be as close as the hosts would get.
A three and out forced Morrisville to kick on their own 45, but the long snapper hiked the ball over the punter's head. He was able to recover and get the kick off but from the M'Ville three yard-line instead. The kick was fielded by Pete Jackson (Groton, NY/Groton) who brought it back 12 yards to the Morrisville 19 yard-line. After three plays, Brainard connected with Wilkins for a 5-yard touchdown pass to put Hartwick up 14-5.
Both teams lost the ball on interceptions on their next possessions. Brainard was picked off on 4th down on the Morrisville 32 yard-line, and the Mustangs marched 68 yards on six plays capped by a McLaughlin to Josh Powell 33-yard touchdown strike for the game's final points. M'ville elected to go for two after the touchdown but the run failed.
Defensively, Spirou's 21 tackles vaults him up four places on the Hartwick all-time tackles list. He now has 228 hits, good enough for 7th in program history.
RJ Roth (New Windsor, NY/Cornwall Central) contributed 11 tackles and Jason Brown (Rensselaer, NY/Rensselaer HS) added eight. Rob Burke (Wantagh, NY/Wantagh) registered a sack and Nate Foote (Norwich, NY/Onondaga CC) had an interception.
Hartwick is off until September 17. That day, the Hawks host Norwich at Wright Stadium in their home opener beginning at 1 p.m.