Football Wins 2nd Straight, Beats SVU in NJAC Opener, 24-3
Montclair, NJ - Sophomore quarterback JA'QUILL BURCHthrew two touchdown passes and junior KASON CAMPBELLreturned another kickoff for a touchdown as Montclair State improved to 2-0 on the season with a 24-3 victory over Southern Virginia in its NJAC opener at Sprague Field on Saturday afternoon. Senior linebacker MAURO ALTAMURA had a fine all-around game with 14 tackles (12 solo), a sack, fumble recovery and three tackles for loss as the Red Hawks are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2011 and the 30th time in its history. Montclair also upped its record to 5-0 all-time against the Knights (0-3, 0-3 NJAC) in th final meeting between the two. Southern Virginia will leave the NJAC after this season and join the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). SVU controlled the ball for nearly 10 minutes of the opening quarter but could only come away with three points. The Knights pushed the ball to the MSU 11 on the first possession of the game however a lost fumble on a handoff was recovered by Altamura ending that threat. Later in the period, the Knights put together a 14-play, 63-yard drive that took seven minutes off the clock and got the MSU 2 however it would settle for a field goal from 19 yards by Jackson Hatch. The points were the first for SVU against Montclair since the initial meeting between the two in 2014. The Red Hawks answered with a field goal of their own. Converting a pair of third downs, Burch connected with Campbell for 26 yards down to the SVU 2 before HUNTER DALY came on and converted a 21-yard attempts knotting the game at 3-3 with 10:03 to go before halftime. MSU came up with a big defensive play as RODNEY DIPRENDA, JR. picked off a Tate Briggs pass at the SVU 36. Montclair State quickly capitalized on it as Burch dropped a pass over a defender into the end zone for WILLIE BARR giving the Red Hawks a 10-3 advantage. MSU nearly increased that lead late in the half as it marched from its own 11 down to the SVU 20. Burch hit BRIAN KOWALCZYK for 25 yards on a third down out to the MSU 40 and completed a 45-yard pass for Campbell placing the ball at the Knights 20. SVU would hold forcing a field goal attempt that clanged off the left upright as time expired. But that missed opportunity was quickly gotten back on the second half kickoff as Campbell took the ball at his own 9, found a crease on the right side and outran the rest of the coverage tip-toeing down the sideline for the 91-yard score and a 17-3 MSU lead. It was the second straight week and third consecutive game in which Campbell brought back a kickoff for a touchdown and now owns the MSU career mark in that category breaking the tie he held with Don Cooper (1968-69) in addition to tying the single-season record. The defense would set up Montclair's final score. After pinning the Knights at their own 1, cornerback JALEN HARRIS made a diving interception on a tipped ball at the SVU 17. Three plays later, Burch found STEPP OZIEGBE in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown and a 24-3 lead with 6:35 to play in the third. Barr and CRAIG MERKLE each ran for 36 yards to lead the MSU ground attack that had 114 yards on the day. The Red Hawks finished with 361 yards of offense and held the ball for 28 of the final 45 minutes of the contest. Montclair totaled 31:42 in possession time, including 11:56 in the fourth. Campbell had three catches for 88 yards as Burch connected with eight different receivers in the game. JAKE WEBER (one sack) and BRENNAN RAY had seven tackles apiece with the latter posting two for loss. Linebacker SEAMUS NELSON added three tackles and a pair of pass breakups. After spending the first two weeks at home, Montclair now heads out on the road for the next two contests starting on Saturday, September 22 in Newport News, VA at Christopher Newport University. Kickoff at POMOCO Stadium is scheduled for 1:00 pm.