Montclair State Red Hawks football
Photo by Riley Lorenz

Road Hawks: Montclair State tops William Paterson for major road win

The Montclair State Red Hawks looked to bounce back this week against William Paterson after a blowout loss to Salisbury last week. The offense needed to bounce back and get some points on the board while the defense tried to stay strong and make stops.

The game started with both offenses beginning sluggishly, resulting in the teams trading punts. The Red Hawks did start to drive the ball down the field on their second drive. With the ball at the William Paterson 44-yard line, Andrew Sanborn threw a costly interception, killing the drive in its tracks.

The Red Hawks' defense turned the Pioneers over on their next offensive drive when Alex Buchwald picked off a Christopher Leimberg pass in the red zone. Aiden McLaughlin came in at quarterback and put the Red Hawks in striking distance when he hit Clarence Wilkins on a 38-yard dime to set Montclair State up at the three-yard line. After three failed attempts to get into the end zone, the Red Hawks missed a chip shot field goal, and the score remained tied at zero.

The Red Hawks finally got on the board late in the second quarter when Henry Lewis powered into the end zone after a 14-play, 56-yard drive. The drive gave Montclair State momentum and the first lead of the game, but it was short-lived. The Pioneers struck back just 20 seconds later when Leimberg connected with Taz Burton on a 70-yard touchdown pass on the Pioneers' first play of the drive. The game went into halftime tied at seven.

Neither team could break through in the third quarter as the game advanced to the fourth quarter, still all tied up at seven. With over nine minutes left, William Paterson took the lead on a 39-yard strike from Leimberg to Matt Clarke. The Pioneers missed the PAT, making the score 13-7 as Montclair State looked to overcome a defict against their rivals.

After a fumble earlier in the half, Abellany Mendez came up clutch when he ran for a 28-yard touchdown scamper with 2:35 remaining on the clock to tie the score at 13. Red Hawks kicker Greg Casimir had ice in his veins to knock down the go-ahead PAT to put Montclair State up, 14-13. The Pioneers were able to push the ball down the field, but a late Red Hawks interception sealed the win for Montclair State.

It was a significant win on the road for a team that has been through plenty of ups and downs all year. The Red Hawks improved to 4-3 on the year and 3-1 in the NJAC. Montclair State will host Rowan next week for a 5 p.m. kickoff at Sprague.

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