Red Hawks Prepare for Regular Season Finale at Kean
Last Saturday, the Montclair State Red Hawks played their final home game of the 2016 regular season at Sprague Field against Frostburg State University. The Bobcats quickly jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and tacked on 10 third-quarter points to pull away for the 24-6 win over the Red Hawks(4-5, 3-5 NJAC). Montclair’s offense struggled all day totaling just 78 yards.
“They got the 14 points on the blocked punt and we dropped a snap on a punt so they recover that ball on the short field and scored their second touchdown on it,” Montclair State Head Coach Rick Giancola said. “Within two series they had 14 points.”
“We could not recover from that and our defense gave us the other six points based on picking up a fumble ourselves and getting into the end zone,” he continued. “We didn’t generate much offense and that had to do with our field position that was not every good and could not sustain drives. We couldn’t control the line of scrimmage.”
Senior running back John DiStefano was held to 31 yards on 14 carries. “John is playing hurt and has a rib cartilage injury but is going to play Saturday,” said Giancola.
Defensively, junior Nick Catalano put the Red Hawks on the board with a 33-yard fumble return that cut the lead to 14-6 in the second quarter. Junior linebacker Joshua Betts led the team in tackles with eight while Jabari Gavin and Mauro Altamura chipped in with seven tackles apiece.
“The defense played well and especially during the second half of the year and we have not supported the effort that the defense has given us,” said Giancola. “With our offense and kicking game units we need to step that up. When you have all three phases and only one is performing up to par it’s very difficult to win. What you need is at least two of the three to perform well and overcome any deficiencies. If you are controlling the field, sacks or getting sacks and turnovers and have not been able to do that.”
Now, the Red Hawks prepare for the regular season finale at Kean on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Last season, Kean won in the 2015 season finale 28-21 at Sprague Field.
“It was a tough ball game and we had the lead up until the very last series,” said Giancola. “They had the ball and to their credit drove down the field and scored on us with about 10 seconds left in the game. We couldn’t stop them and to their credit won the game and got it done. I don’t know if it will go that way this year again but I would like to think if it does we’re still in the game and hopefully with a chance to win it.”
Saturday will also mark the final game for many senior players on the team.
“It’s emotional because I don’t think the younger players on the team understand what a senior goes through when finally realizing this is my last game forever and that really is a moment a senior has to deal with themselves and every player goes through it,” said Giancola. “You hug them, love them and tell them how much confidence you had in them and having them in the program.”
“A personal experience of my of my own I knew before my last game I’m done and finished and not going to play this sport ever again,” he continued. “Not every player does it the same way and hit the player at the same time. Some will take a sigh of relief and period of time goes by and then all of a sudden it hits them and I’m done and can’t play.”