Montclair State Downs Kean in Season Finale, 21-14
Montclair, NJ – Freshman running back Denzel Nieves (South Orange, NJ, Columbia) rushed for 97 yards a pair of third quarter touchdowns as Montclair State closed out its 2013 season with a 21-14 victory over Kean University at Sprague Field on Saturday evening.
Senior running back A.J. Scoppa (New Milford, NJ, New Milford) added a 60-yard touchdown run as the Red Hawks finished the year at 4-6 overall, 3-4 in the NJAC. Montclair, which improved to 32-7 all-time against the Cougars, finished the year winning three of its final four contests.
Sophomore quarterback Robert Meade III (Colonia, NJ / Bishop Ahr) accounted for both Kean touchdowns as he rushed for 165 yards and a scored while throwing for 97 yards and a touchdown. The Cougars finished the year at 2-8, 1-6 in the NJAC.
Tied 7-7 at halftime, Montclair State's Billy Merz (Carteret, NJ, Carteret) returned the second-half kickoff 52 yards to the Kean 38 giving MSU great field position. Nieves ripped off a 13 yard run to the 25 on the first play owever Montclair stalled and attempted a 36-yard field goal attempt. The snap on the kick was low however junior Anthony Mannato (Beachwood, NJ, Toms River South) turned the misfortune for the Red Hawks into a 17 yard run down to the Kean 2. Nieves, who ran 23 times in the game, barreled in from a yard out on the next play giving Montclair State a 14-7 lead with 11:34 left in the third.
Kean got the ball back and used a fake punt on fourth down from its own 22 getting a first down as Jonathan Schmitt (Cliffside Park, NJ / Cliffside Park) rumbled 18 yards to the Kean 40. The drive would eventually end and a punt pinned Montclair at its own 15.
The Red Hawks then embarked on a 12-play, 85-yard drive. Nieves had a 15-yard run to the MSU 32 and Ryan Davies (Lanoka Harbor, NJ, Howell) hit Aaron Williams (West Orange, NJ, Jonathan Dayton) for 13 yards on a 3rd-and-7 out to the 48 yardline. A face-mask penalty and a 19 –yard run by Nieves moved the ball to the Kean 19. Davies connected with Williams on an 11-yard gain to the Kean 8 leaving MSU a yard shy of the first down. MSU elected to go for it and Davies delivered with a two-yard sneak. Nieves scampered around the right side on the next play for the touchdown as Montclair State led 21-7 with 58 seconds to go.
Kean would answer immediately with a 73-yard drive that was covered mostly by Meade. He ripped off a 17-yard run on the first play and later added a 20-yard on 3rd-and-1 to the MSU 17. Meade found Michael Gallant (Edison, NJ / Bishop Ahr0 for nine yards to the MSU 8 and then ran twice, the second a 2-yard plunge for the touchdown as Kean cut the lead to 21-14 with 12:01 to play in the fourth.
Montclair was forced to punt on its next possession however Mike Borrelli (West Orange, NJ, Seton Hall Prep) pinned the Cougars at their own 8 with 8:32 left. Meade had a 19-yard run to the 27 and later rushed for seven more yards setting up a 3rd-and-6 from the Kean 31. Montclair linebacker Adnan Sakiri (Ramsey, NJ, Ramsey) then charged in off the right side sacking Meade for an 11-yard loss forcing the Cougars to punt the ball away.
Kean would get one last chance with 1:03 to play and moved to ball to its own 42 yard line before a mishandled snap on 4th-and-1 ended the game.
Montclair State jumped out to a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter as Scoppa, who returned to the lineup after missing last week, raced around the right end and pulled away from several defenders for a 60-yard touchdown. The run put Scoppa over the 2,000-yard mark for his career as he became the 12th player in MSU history to achieve that feat. Scoppa finished with 84 yards on eight carries completing his career with 2,023 putting him 11th on the all-time MSU list.
Kean tied the game in the second quarter on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Meade to Dominic Trimarco (Staten Island, NY / St. Peter's Boys) capping a nine-play, 75-yard drive.
Davies completed 10-of-15 passes with Williams catching four of those for 42 yards.
Defensively for Montclair State, Sakiri finished with 10 tackles for his fifth double-digit tackles game of the year. He also reached a pair of milestones finishing with 100 tackles for the season and exactly 200 for his career. Senior linebacker Dan Avento (Montvale, NJ, Pascack Hills) had five tackles becoming just the fifth player in MSU history to register 300 tackles in a career. Avento, who finished with 303, joined Sam Mill, Paul Cioffi, Cornell Hunt and Len Kruk as the only players in school history to reach the 300-tackle mark.
Sophomore linebacker Dan Valles (Carteret, NJ, Carteret) had eight tackles.