Montclair, NJ – The Montclair State scored in every facet of the game and blocked kicks three different ways as the Red Hawks closed out their 2019 season with a 40-12 victory over Kean University at Sprague Field on Saturday afternoon.
Quarterback Ja'Quill Burch threw for 271 yards and a touchdown including another on the ground while Jaier Garrett and Brennan Ray each scored on special teams and defense, respectively as MSU finished the season at 6-4, 5-2 in conference play.
Montclair posted its second straight winning season accomplishing that feat for the first time since the 2010 and 2011 campaigns. MSU also improved to 36-9 all-time against the Cougars winning for the third straight season and sixth time in the last eight years.
Kean struck first as Jemel Daniels stripped Burch of the football on a sack with Dante Capozzoli recovering it and moving it to the MSU 25. Jesse Assare rushed for 17 yards on a pair of carries, the last a 13 yard scamper to the MSU 3. Tyrae Taylor then found Kyle Rooney for the touchdown as the Cougars led 6-0 with 9:45 to play in the first after Ray came up with a block on the extra point.
Montclair State would miss a chance at points later in the quarter on a missed field goal and then turned the ball over again deep in its own territory as Aaron Cottrell recovered a muffed punt at the MSU 27. But the Red Hawk defense would hold and then came up with the first of its big plays. Rodney DiPrenda, Jr. blocked a 40-yard attempt by Logan Matthews. Kason Campbell scooped up the ball and returned it to the Kean 41.
That sparked MSU which turned that into a touchdown. Burch hit Campbell for 37 yards to the Kean 12 and then finished off the drive with an eight-yard scamper as he eluded two defenders and then outraced the rest to the corner giving Montclair a 7-6 lead with 11:40 to go in the second.
MSU extended its lead with just under a minute to go before halftime, capping it off with a 28-yard field goal by Anthony Marinelli for a 10-6 lead at the break. Burch kept that drive going with an 11-yard completion to Campbell on 3rd-and-9. Kean would push the ball down the field and got to the Red Hawks 25 in the final seconds. However, three straight incompletions ended the half with MSU taking its four-point lead into the locker room.
That lead would grow on the first possession of the third as Montclair took the opening kickoff and went 85 yards in seven plays. Burch delivered the big play with a 61-yard strike to Mitch Chugunov down to the Kean 10. Three plays later, Burch found Daunte Fletcher for a nine-yard touchdown making the score 17-6 with 11:45 left in third.
MSU's special teams came up with the next score as the Red Hawks made it two touchdowns in a 96-second span. Zahir Wilder came up with a blocked punt that was picked up by Garrett, who took it the final 26 yards for the score and a 24-6 advantage with just over 10 minutes left.
Montclair State then used a bit of trickery as running back Ralph McLean successfully completed the half-back option pass, finding Chugunov for a 38-yard score with 7:35 remaining.
Ray accounted for eight of the final nine points for MSU. He intercepted a Taylor pass early in the fourth returning it 29 yards for a touchdown for a 38-6 lead with two minutes gone by in the quarter. Kean would snap the Red Hawks' scoring run with five minutes left as Taylor hit Aubyn Bryan II for a 69-yard touchdown however Ray picked off the two-point conversion try and returned it for two points for the final margin.
Burch finished 21-of-30 in the game, with Chugunov doing most of the damage pulling in six receptions for 146 yards. Campbell had four catches for 64 yards with Craig Merkle adding six for 44 yards.
Senior Brandon Burdge led the defensive effort with nine tackles and 1.5 sacks for -14 yards. Seamus Nelson had seven tackles with Wilder and Michael Stefkovich posting five tackles apiece.
Montclair totaled 400 yards of offense in the game while limiting the Cougars to nearly half that amount (205).