OWINGS MILLS, MD -- The King's College football team rallied from a 24-14 third-quarter deficit to outscore host Stevenson University 17-0 over the final 16 minutes of play as the Monarchs rallied for a dramatic 31-24 victory Saturday at Mustang Field in Glens Mills, Md.
With the win, King's improved to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the Middle Atlantic Conference while posting its first three-game win streak since the 2006 campaign. Stevenson, Meanwhile, slipped to 3-3 and 2-3 in league competition. It also marked King's third straight victory over the Mustangs with two coming at Mustang Stadium.
After building a 14-0 lead, King's surrendered 24 straight points through the second and third quarters and looked to be out-of-synch.Stevenson rallied to take a 17-14 lead at the break, King's looked to recapture the momentum as Dan Kempa took the second-half kickoff 33 yards to the Monarch 47. But with King's facing a third-and-six from the Stevenson 49, Mustang defensive back Tre'von Wilks picked off Hartranft at the Stevenson 44 and returned the pick 56 yards for a touchdown. Charlie Cornell added the point-after as the Mustang lead grew to 24-14 with 13:11 to play in the third quarter.
Two possessions later King's thwarted a Stevenson drive when Kris Matthews posted an interception at the Monarch 20. From there, Hartranft found tailback Kyle McGrath for a 44-yard catch and run to the Mustang 36. Patrick Robinson then rushed for eight yards to the 28, then followed up with another eight-yard pickup to the 20. After a three-yard run by Robinson, the Monarch sophomore broke free up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown to get the Monarchs back on the scoreboard. Robinson accounted for the final 36 yards of the drive on four carries. Kevin Mulvihill added the extra-point as the Monarchs closed to 24-21 with 3:52 left in the third period.
King's then forced a Mustang punt and took over at its own 40. A second-down 12-yard run by McGrath moved the ball to the Stevenson 47. Two runs by Robinson totaling seven yards set up a third and three from the Mustang 40. There, Hartranft hit Jay Thomas for 14 yards to the 26. Robinson then added 10 more yards to give King's a first-down at the Stevenson 16 on the final play of the third quarter. Two more Robinson carries moved the ball to the eight to set up third-and- two. There, King's called a quarterback sneak and Hartranft kept the drive alive with a two-yard pickup down to the six. Two plays later Hartranft found Kemp in the end zone for a six-yard scoring play. Mulvihill made good on the point-after kick as the Monarchs recaptured a 28-24 lead with 12:16 left in the contest.
On the ensuing kickoff King's special teams came up big when James Burke stripped Emmanuel Paul of the ball and Ben Ray recovered the fumble at the Mustang 31. King's moved the ball to the 11 but was forced to settle for a 23-yard Mulvihill field goal to give the Monarchs a 31-24 lead with 8:30 left in the contest.
After forcing a Stevenson punt, the Monarchs took over at their own 26 with 5:39 left in the contest with an opportunity to run out the clock. King's managed to whittle nearly four minutes off the clock after advancing to the Mustang 41 before punting with 1:12 to play.
After a fair catch, Stevenson would look to tie the score and started its final drive from its own 16-yard line with 1:05 on the clock.
On first down Stevenson tossed an incomplete pass but King's made another huge mistake when the Monarchs were flagged with a roughing the passer penalty for third time in the game, moving the ball to the Mustang 31.
Two more completions gave Stevenson possession at the Monarch 47, but with the clock running out the Mustangs were forced to spike the ball with 0:05 left. With the game in balance and a miracle in need, the Mustangs called a hook-and-lateral play and a seven-yard pass completion to Andrew Wysocki was followed by three laterals. But the Monarchs would finally tackle Trey Lee at the King's 47 to end the game.
The game started well for the Monarchs as King's scored on its second possession of the game. Following a Stevenson punt King's took over at its own 35 and went to work. Robinson carried for four yards before a six-yard pass to McGrath gave the Monarchs a first-down at the King's 46. After a two runs by McGrath netted five yards, Hartranft found Dan Kemp for 17 yards to the Mustang 34. On the next play Hartranft hooked up with Kempa for 32 yards down to the Stevenson two-yard line on the final play of the first quarter. On the next play McGrath hit Jay Thomas with a one-yard pass out of the backfield for the first score of the game. Mulvihill made good on the point-after as the Monarchs took a 7-0 lead with 14:57 left in the second quarter.
Stevenson would take over on its own 22 after the kickoff when the unexpected happened once again. On first down, Jefferson was sacked by Billy Beinke and the ball popped loose. Monarch defensive end Ron Garrett scooped up the free ball and ran 20 yards for a Monarch touchdown. Remarkably it was the fifth straight game Garrett scored on a defensive touchdown for King's. Mulvihill connected on the extra-point kick as the Monarchs built a 14-0 lead with 14:38 remaining in the half.
Caught up in the celebration of Garrett's achievement, Stevenson reasserted itself on the ensuing possession. The Mustangs responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jefferson to Chris Cooper. Charlie Cornell added the conversion as Stevenson cut the King's lead to 14-7 with 9:26 to go in the opening half.
After the Stevenson defense forced a Monarch punt, the Mustangs assumed possession at its own 43 and quickly struck again. Freshman tailback Marcus Holly broke free up the middle for a 48-yard run down to the Monarchs seven. Three plays later Holley scored on a five-yard score and Cornell converted the extra-point as the Mustangs knotted the game at 14-14 with 5:51 left in the second quarter.
King's tried to regain the momentum when Justin Burke returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards to the Monarch 46. King's battled through two penalties but managed to move the ball to the Mustang 33. On third-and-seven from the 33, a pass to Josh Sanders was broken up to force King's into a fourth-and-seven play. From there, King's came up empty against as Hartranft was sacked for a 12-yard loss back to the Mustang 45 with 1:49 on the clock.
Stevenson took advantage of the short field and drove to the Monarch three. But after two short runs and an incomplete pass, the Mustangs settled for an 18-yard field goal by Cornell on the final play of the half as Stevenson took a 17-14 lead into the break
King's outgained Stevenson 396-to-252 in total yards. The Monarchs rushed for 218 yards compared to 90 for the Mustangs. King's also passed for 178 while Stevenson threw for 162.
Hartranft completed 12-of-24 passes for 177 yards with one touchdown and one interception. McGrath rushed for 81 yards on 25 attempts and caught four passes for 70 yards while also throwing for one touchdown. Robinson added 77 yards on 15 carries while Kempa caught five passes for 67 yards.
Defensively, Anthony Martuccio had a team-high nine tackles while Ray followed with eight stops and a fumble recovery. Curtice tallied seven tackles with a sack while Garrett added six tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss to go along with his fifth defensive touchdown in as many games.
Holley led Stevenson with 101 rushing yards on 18 carries while Jefferson, who came in for injured starter John Gasparovic midway through the first quarter, completed 14-of-24 passes for 158 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and one lost fumble. Miller tallied four catches for 52 yards while Cooper had three receptions for 24 yards and one score.
King's will return to action Saturday when the Monarchs travel to Doylestown to face traditional MAC power Delaware Valley College in a 1:00 p.m. matchup.