Montclair, NJ – Freshman running back Denzel Nieves rushed for 123 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Montclair State defense shut down William Paterson over the final 30 minutes for a 40-13 win at Sprague Field on Saturday evening.
The Red Hawks picked up their second straight victory as they improved to 3-5 overall, 2-3 in the NJAC with their 21st consecutive victory over their local rival. MSU is now 40-2-1 all-time against the Pioneers, including victories each season since 1993.
Senior quarterback Ryan Gresik (Newton, NJ / Newton) threw for 209 yards and a touchdown for the Pioneers, who dropped their second straight game. William Paterson fell to 3-6 overall, 1-5 in the NJAC with the loss.
Both teams came out flying scoring in each of their first two possessions.
William Paterson got the opening kickoff and Gresik found Mick Paye (Lumberton, NJ / Rancocas Valley) for 48 yards on the second play down to the Montclair 15. The Red Hawks defense would hold and Robert Sinegara (Wharton, NJ / Morris Knolls) connected on a 28-yard field for a 3-0 WPU lead with 2:08 into the game.
Montclair State responded immediately as Ryan Davies (Lanoka Harbor, NJ / Howell) lofted a ball just over the reach of a defender into the hands of freshman wide receiver Malcolm Robinson (Bayonne, NJ / Bayonne) who raced nearly 50 yards to complete a 69-yard score as Montclair jumped in front 7-3.
The Pioneers countered as Darius Kersey (Dover, NJ / Dover) ran in from two yards out after Gresik connected with Paye again on a 78-yard play down to the MSU 4.
That gave WPU a 10-7 lead but Montclair came right back with an 11-play, 52-yard drive that was capped off by a 27-yard field goal by John Schubert (Maybrook, NY / Valley Central) knotting the score at 10-10 which is the way the wild first quarter would end.
In the second the Red Hawks took advantage of a short field to take the lead. Davies hit Clinton Coffey (Roselle, NJ / Roselle) on passes for 10 and 17 yards, the latter moving the ball to the WPU 10. Nieves then scampered in on the next play for a 17-10 Montclair State lead with 12:13 to go before halftime.
Two possessions later, a punt by MSU's Mike Borrelli (West Orange, NJ / Seton Hall Prep) pinned the Pioneers at their own 3. Adnan Sakiri (Ramsey, NJ / Ramsey) forced a fumble that was recovered by Matt Mancino (Wall, NJ / Wall) at the WPU 7 setting up a touchdown run by A.J. Scoppa (New Milford, NJ / New Milford) on the next play as Montclair extended its lead to 24-10 with 4:$5 to go.
The Pioneers would get three more points before the half ended as a trio of Gresik completions and two penalties on MSU moved the ball to the MSU 5. However the drive stalled an Sinegara hit from 22 yards out as William Paterson trailed 24-13 at the break.
In the second half, the MSU defense allowed just 87 yards on seven possessions and forced three turnovers.
After another Borrelli punt put the Pioneers inside their own 20 Montclair used the short field again to extend the lead to 31-13 with 1:58 left. Nieves rushed for 47 yards on the drive finishing it off with a six-yard run. Sakiri intercepted a Gresik pass on the next possession which turned into a Schubert field goal from 29 yards as Montclair made it 10 points in a 2:40 span for a 34-13 lead after three quarters.
Nieves accounted for the final touchdown with 9:20 in the fourth on a one-yard run capping off a 61-yard drive in which he rushed for 44 yards.
Scoppa finished with 106 yards on 16 carries as Montclair State had two backs rush for 100 yards in the same game for the second straight week. MSU ran for 247 yards and finished the game with 406 yard of total offense. Davies was 9-of-20 for 159 yards with Robinson getting three grabs for 99 yards. Sakiri led the defense with eight tackles while Dan Avento (Montvale, NJ / Pascack Hills) had seven along with a forced fumble.
Gresik was 14-of-31 for 209 yards with Paye (138 yards) and Mike Vanucci (Bethpage, NY / Plainridge) each getting four catches. David Zurla (Rutherford, NJ / Rutherford) led the Pioneers with 10 tackles while Carlo Caponetta (Hazlet, NJ / Raritan) getting seven. Kell'E Gallimore (Plainfield, NJ / Plainfield) had five tackles and also blocked an extra point attempt.
The Pioneers finished with 213 yards of total offense.
Both teams are back in action next Saturday November 9 with NJAC games. Montclair State travels to Brockport for a 1:00 pm matchup with the Golden Eagles while William Paterson hosts The College of New Jersey at Wightman Stadium.