Mustangs Rush Past Castleton 39-17, Even Conference Mark

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CASTLETON, Vt. - Mount Ida scored points in all four quarters, including a 16-0 fourth quarter to put the game out of reach as they defeated Castleton State 37-19 on Saturday in Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) action at Spartan Stadium.

Mount Ida improves to 2-3 on the season, and evens their conference mark at 1-1, while Castleton drops to 1-4 (0-2 ECFC).

The Mustang's defense picked off four Spartan passes, recovered one fumble, recorded a safety and blocked a kick that Frank Greene (Hamden, Conn.) returned 98 yards for a defensive two point conversion. 

The offense totaled 428 yards, with 177 coming on the ground and 251 through the air. Melquan Pinkney (Springfield, Mass.) paced the Mount Ida offense with 129 yards rushing on 17 carries and a pair of touchdowns. 

Junior quarterback Jawad Yatim (Shrewsbury, Mass.) was solid behind center, going 15-for-27 for 251 yards and three touchdowns. His primary target on the day was Chandler McCoy, who caught five passes for 67 yards and a score. 

Castleton forced three fumbles of their own and picked off a pass inside the red zone on defense while finishing with 323 yards of total offense, including 250 passing yards. 

Junior Kevin Alberque was all over the field for the Spartans, catching seven passes for 114 yards to go with 120 return yards for 234 total yards on the afternoon. 

Tyler Higley finished the day 16-for-34 for 234 yards and a touchdown, but did throw the four interceptions. He also led the Castleton ground attack with 33 yards as the team totaled 73 rushing yards. 

Trailing by a point after a Castleton touchdown in the third quarter, Mount Ida closed the game on a 22-3 run, starting with a 33-yard touchdown pass to McCoy that gave the Mustangs a lead that they would not relinquish. That score came on the end of a Mustang drive that moved the ball 45 yards and took just 1:04. 

The Green and White had grabbed the lead with 1:22 left in the first quarter when Pinkney ran the ball in from five yards out after a 57-yard drive that was highlighted by a 38 yard pass from Yatim to senior Jordan Hyman (Middletown, Conn.), who caught three balls for 88 yards. 

Castleton responded on its next drive as it moved from its own 28-yard line to the Mount Ida 46 in just four plays. Higley then found Alberque for a 29-yard catch and run down to the Mustang 16. Three Elias LaCount rushes later, the senior reached paydirt to make it 7-6.  However, the extra point to tie was blocked and returned by Greene for a defensive PAT, giving Mount Ida a 9-6 lead and swinging the momentum back in the favor of the Mustangs. 

A 30-yard field goal by Robert Lineberger would tie the game at 9 with 5:10 left. Lineberger hit on both of his field goal attempts, with his 26-yard effort the only points the Spartans would score after the middle of the third quarter. 

Mount Ida added an important score before the half, as Yatim found freshman Matt Greenman (Portsmouth, R.I.) for a 34-yard touchdown with just seven seconds left to make it 15-9 in favor of the Mustangs. Greenman's extra point attempt failed and the Mustangs went into the half with a 15-9 lead. 

Castleton received the second-half kickoff and Alberque brought it back out to the 28-yard line. Following a seven-yard rush by LaCount, Higley found Tyler Combs for a 28-yard reception to get inside Ida territory at the 37. On the next play Higley hit Makai Hawkins on a quick screen and he wound his way to his first career touchdown. Lineberger made the extra point to give the Spartans a 16-15 lead. 

From there, it was all Mustangs, starting with McCoy's 33-yard grab. The fourth quarter belonged to Mount Ida, as they picked off two Higley passes and totaled 128 yards of offense while outscoring the Spartans 16-0. Yatim tossed his third touchdown pass with 12:02, finding Zach Siegenthaler (Parkland, Fla.) on a six yard score, and then, with 6:34 remaining, the Mustang defense sacked Higley in the endzone for a safety. 

Pinkney ended the scoring with a rushing touchdown at 4:53 to provide a 37-19 final. 

Senior linebacker Jon Proto (North Haven, Conn.) led the Mustang defense with nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks for a loss of eight yards and 2.5 tackles for a loss. D'Andre Smith added six tackles and was credited with the block of the extra point attempt. Proto was also one of four Mustangs to pick off a Castleton pass, along with Jovan Wilkins (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.), Kayln Smithson (Vilseck, Germany), and Zach Samiljan (Sparta, N.J.). 

Jay Morgan led the Castleton defense with ten tackles and one sack, while Mick Wong added nine tackles and one interception. Nick Romeo finished with eight tackles and two for a loss along with a pair of fumble recoveries. 

Mount Ida returns to Alumni Field for their next-to-last home game of the season next Saturday, when they welcome Anna Maria to Newton for a 1:00 pm contest. 

Castleton returns to action next Saturday when the Spartans host Gallaudet at noon during Homecoming weekend.

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