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Defense, Rushing Attack, Lead Montclair State to Shutout Victory

(Photo by Double G Media)

(Photo by Double G Media)

 

After being limited to 44 yards on the ground last week against William Paterson, senior running back John DiStefano bounced back with a stellar performance carrying the ball 41 times for 175 yards including the lone touchdown of the game as Montclair State (3-2, 2-2 NJAC) rolled past Southern Virginia 17-0 at Sprague Field in Montclair, New Jersey.

“We really wanted to run the ball and going to force the run,” said Montclair State Head Coach Rick Giancola. “We felt if we could keep the ball away from them as much as possible it would help our defense and they rose to the occasion.”

For the majority of the first quarter both teams’ traded punts but at the very end the Red Hawks started at their 45-yard line after a punt. DiStefano went to work churning out 16 yards on the first five plays of the drive. Sophomore quarter John Apicella attempted just seven passes on the day completing two critical passes including a 28-yard play to junior wide receiver Julanee Prince and 7-yarder to senior fullback Anthony Dorsi. Facing a 4th and 1 from the two-yard, DiStefano powered through the left side of the line for the score 59 seconds into the second quarter.

Meanwhile, the Montclair State defense dominated holding Southern Virginia to eight first downs and 157 total yards of offense. Starting at their own 42 with 12 minutes left in the third quarter, the Knights drove deep inside RedHawks territory due to a 34-yard run by running back Malakai Solovi. Montclair’s defense amped up the pressure and on 4th down junior Shaon Stephenson stopped quarterback Ty Jones short of the first down marker.

On 2nd and 4 at the 33, DiStefano broke loose for a 67-yard touchdown run but ended up coming back due to a holding penalty. Not deterred, DiStefano ripped off a 16-yard run on a 3rd and 11 at the Knights 49. Piling up 18 additional yards on the ground, the RedHawks moved the ball into the red zone only to see the drive stall out resulting in a 36-yard field goal by sophomore placekicker Ryan DeLeon with 1:48 remaining.

In the 4th quarter, Southern Virginia marched the ball down the field reaching the Montclair State eight-yard line. Once again the defense managed to keep the Knights off the scoreboard as junior defensive lineman Vincent Cordasco recovered a fumble. The RedHawks sealed the victory with less than two minutes remaining with senior linebacker sacking Jones resulting in a fumble that junior Joshua Betts scooped up and rumbled back for the 30-yard score.

“We defended the option well because every guy knew their assignment and played hard to execute the assignment and did that,” said Giancola. “It’s nice to get that assurance because the field goal was so big and forced them to score twice. The game is really funny how it can go back and forth and kept telling them change the momentum and try to do something within yourself and unit to get the momentum back on our side. Their effort, attitude and desire to want to play was very good.”

Next Saturday Montclair State travels to Christopher Newport University for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff. Last season the RedHawks defeated the Captains 35-22.

“When we came back after the win against Rowan and loss to William Paterson I said to the team Monday starts a new week and you can’t live off just what happened good or bad,” Giancola said. “Every day our goal when we come to practice is to get better every time and not 9 games down the road or looking on the calendar to see who we get. There is no perfect football game and never been or will and have to work as perfect as you can possibly be and take care of your business first and you will have a chance to win.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Sunil is the Rockland Boulders Beat Writer for DoubleGSports.com and also covers North Jersey High School Sports
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