Nick Edmond rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns to lead Morrisville State's offense, and St. Lawrence was never quite able to make its way back from a 27-7 deficit as the Saints fell to the Mustangs 34-26 in a non-league football game at Drake Field in Morrisville on Friday night.
Travis Marnell had 10 catches for 114 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Saints.
Brandon Gwinner rushed for one touchdown and threw for another to give Morrisville a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The first score came on a six-yard scramble when the quarterback was unable to find an open receiver. Gwinner then found Petrit Boga up the seam for a 12-yard touchdown.
Marnell scored his first touchdown of the game early in the second quarter on a five-yard pass from Tyler Grochot to cut the lead to 14-7. Grochot put the ball low to the outside, and Marnell was able to wheel around for the catch as he was falling to the turf.
Edmond plowed through several St. Lawrence players on an 11-yard touchdown run to increase the Mustangs' lead to 21-7, and Raffaele Bradsh recovered a fumble by Gwinner that bounced forward into the Saints' end zone to increase the lead to 27-7 with just 2:30 to play in the first half.
But the Saints put the game within reach on the very next drive. Grochot found Marnell for 20 yards on a crossing route to get St. Lawrence inside the 5-yard line, and Grochot punched the ball in on a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-2 with just 34 seconds left in the half.
After Morrisville's first drive of the second half resulted in a missed field goal, the Saints took advantage to get back within one score. Grochot found Andrew Murphy in full stride at midfield for a 74-yard pass on the first play of the next drive, then hit Marnell on a slant route for a six-yard score on the very next play.
The Mustangs, however, responded with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ate up six minutes and 41 seconds, with Edmond getting his second score of the day, this time from six yards out.
Grochot, engineered a 13-play, 77-yard touchdown to once again cut the lead to one score, 34-26. He connected with Marnell for the third time of the day on the left side of the end zone for a six-yard score early in the fourth quarter.
St. Lawrence's defense held the Mustangs to a three-and-out, then executed a flawless fake punt pinned deep in their own territory on their next drive. Tyler Burns took the direct snap, then flipped the ball ahead to Max Gilbert for a 20-yard gain. A few plays later, Grochot scrambled towards the first down marker on a 3rd-and-6, but left the game after a helmet-to-helmet hit in which a Morrisville player was ejected for targeting. Aaron Ruthman took over at quarterback and got the Saints into the red zone, but his fourth-down pass to Joseph Viscardo fell incomplete.
Morrisville took over possession and looked to run out the clock, but after running two plays, the game was interrupted by a one hour, 16-minute lightning delay. When play resumed, Kyle Frimel and Rahmod Johnson dropped Toure Hall, Jr. for a three-yard loss, forcing a punt.
Ruthman once again led the Saints to the red zone, preserving the drive with a seven-yard scramble on 4th-and-1, but on the Saints' next fourth-down play, Ruthman's pass sailed out of the reach of Viscardo, and the Mustangs were able to run out the clock.
"Football is a 60-minute game," said head coach Dan Puckhaber. "I feel like we didn't start playing until 7:00, but the kickoff happened at 6:00. Morrisville started well and made us pay and before you knew it, we were down 14-0. I'm proud of our guys for not giving up; they kept swinging, overcame a powerful wind for half the game when we are a pass first football team, then we had a long lightning delay. We drove the field with our backup quarterback and were 20 yards away from having a chance to tie the game. Those are really powerful things to build off of with a young team. We need to stop being our worst opponent and play for a full 60 minutes in all three phases."
Grochot was 22-for-43 passing for 299 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Ruthman was 6-for-13 passing for 72 yards.
The Saints' defense largely held Gwinner in check, allowing just 15 completions on 24 attempts for 136 yards.
Murphy recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game, thanks in large part to his career-long 74-yard catch in the third quarter. He finished the day with 108 receiving yards on four catches. Anthony Ferraro had six receptions for 62 yards.
Raffaele Bradsh led the Mustangs with six receptions for 49 yards.
Pat Vandermark led the Saints' defense with 10 tackles, while Rahmod Johnson added seven tackles with 1.5 behind the line of scrimmage.
Jose Garcia made 13 tackles for Morrisville, which improved to 2-1 on the season.
St. Lawrence, which fell to 1-3, will host Thomas More next Saturday at Leckonby Stadium during Family Weekend.