Turnovers plague Mustangs as they drop 51-34 home opener to Hartwick

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MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – Five game turnovers proved costly for host Morrisville State College football Saturday afternoon, as they dropped a 51-34 non-conference decision to visiting Hartwick College in the 2013 home opener on Drake Field.

The Mustangs fall to 0-2 overall, while Hartwick remains unblemished at 2-0.

Morrisville State accumulated 492-yards total offense behind a 259-yard attack in the air and 233-yard assault on the ground, but lost the ball twice on interceptions and three times on fumbles.

Cristian Pena (Ridgewood, N.Y.) led the efforts in the running game, posting a collegiate best 157-yards on 23 attempts for two rushing scores, adding another 63-yards on three receptions for a score, to his tallies on the day. Lemar Johnson (Ossining, N.Y.) connected on 19-of-36 attempts for 251 yards, connecting with leading receiver Josh Powell (Yonkers, N.Y.) eight times for 115-yards and two touchdowns.

Anthony Mella (Brooklyn, N.Y.) added 52-yards on five receptions to the Mustang offensive tallies.

Travis French (Newark Valley, N.Y.) and David Williams (Central Islip, N.Y.) led the defensive efforts with 10 tackles apiece; French four solo stops and Williams three. Williams also had two sacks on the day. Brent Morrison (Westfield, N.Y.) blocked two Hartwick kick attempts for the Mustangs.

Kurtis Ahart (Spencer, N.Y.) led the Hartwick offense with 191-yards rushing on 25 attempts, posting two scores, while quarterback John Garcia (Warwick, N.Y.) connected on 8-of-22 attempts for 236-yards and four touchdowns. Four passes were to wide receiver Travis Samuels (New City, N.Y.) who posted 178-yards and three scores for the Hawks.

Dante Crump (Kingston, N.Y.) led the Hawk defense with 14 tackles, including nine solo stops.

Late in the opening quarter, Hartwick pinned Morrisville State on their own one-yard line following a 60 yard punt that took a great hawk bounce. But on the Mustangs first play of the drive, Pena sparked the offense and broke out for a 45-yard run, setting up a 22-yard Johnson to Powell reception on the ensuing play, that brought Morrisville State into Hawk territory.

Facing a third and three situation, Johnson connected with Pena to cap off the 99-yard, five-play drive with a 25-yard scoring completion, putting the Mustangs on the board with 4:34 to go in the quarter. Zach Drake (Canastota, N.Y.) completed the point after for the 7-0 Morrisville State lead.

Hartwick responded seconds later, as Samuels collected the kick-off and ran down the left side of the field, taking advantage of two blocks, for the 85-yard return score.

The Hawks forced the Mustangs to a three and out series on the ensuing drive, and in one play, struck again, this time Garcia hitting Samuels for a 73-yard score with three minutes to go in the quarter.

After turning the ball over on downs, Garcia coughed up the ball on a botched snap and Williams recovered, setting up a 22-yard scoring pass completion from Johnson to Powell, with Drake hitting the PAT, for the go ahead 14-13 score.

With under a minute to go in the quarter, Garcia attempted to go long, but Jeremy Stewart (Moravia, N.Y.) read the pass and came up with the interception at the Mustangs 27-yard line to close out the opening stanza.

On the Mustangs opening drive early on in the second, Pena got the call and forced his way to the one-yard line before getting the push from the offensive line for the early score on the 73-yard drive at 11:50, giving Morrisville State the 20-13 advantage.

Ahart broke out for a long run on the ensuing Hartwick drive, and was caught from behind by Stewart who saved the touchdown attempt. After the line stuffed the run attempt to force fourth down, Garcia went up and over the Mustangs defender to hit Frankie Molina (Middletown, N.Y.) for the score.

Morrisville State turned over the ball on downs on the ensuing possession, but French regained the ball for the Mustangs, forcing a Chris Hoose (Leeds, N.Y.) fumble on the Hartwick 25-yard line.

A scoreless drive attempt by Morrisville State put the ball back in the hands of the Hawks in the final four minutes of the half. Following a questionable pass interference call against the Mustangs with seconds to go, Garcia went up and over the defense to Samuels for the 26-20 Hartwick lead at the break.

In the third quarter, Hartwick marched downfield and snagged the ball for a 33-yard pass play score from Garcia to Samuels for the 33-20 lead.

Late in the quarter, Williams made a huge third down sack to force the punt, and Morrisville State took possession of the ball on the Hartwick 39-yard line, setting up a seven-yard screen pass from Johnson to Pena for a 13-yard gain. On the following play, Pena plowed over the defense into the endzone for the score seconds before the close of the quarter.

Hartwick broke out in the fourth quarter, taking advantage of two costly turnovers that led to additional points on the board for the win.

Morrisville State returns to the field Saturday, Sept. 21, hosting St. Lawrence University at 1 p.m. on Mustang Weekend (homecoming).

Morrisville State College sets the world in motion for students. Curriculums are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology. Lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs, the college was named to the 2012 President's Higher Community Service Honor Roll. Visit www.morrisville.edu to experience, Morrisville in motion.



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