The Montclair State University football team (3-2, 2-0 NJAC) took care of business Saturday afternoon, as they defeated the winless Kean University Cougars (0-5, 0-2 NJAC) 27-14 on the road at a rain-soaked Alumni Stadium.
The action started with 5:06 left in the first quarter when sophomore running back Henry Lewis found daylight and broke free for an electrifying 80-yard touchdown, shaking off multiple Kean tacklers on the way. His second touchdown of the season gave the Red Hawks a lead they would not surrender for the rest of the game.
On the very next possession, senior defensive back Nate Exile jumped the route and picked off Kean quarterback Robbie Nungesser, immediately giving the Red Hawks great field position. Exile’s interception led to a Montclair State field goal, putting them up 10.
On the Cougars next possession, Montclair State’s defense kept their strong start going and got off the field quickly.
Despite challenging conditions, sophomore quarterback Andrew Sanborn was able to march the offense down the field, capping it off with an 18-yard touchdown pass over the middle to senior wide receiver Clarence Wilkins to make it 17-0.
However, the passing game proceeded to stall out soon after. After junior linebacker Nicholas Burgess and junior linebacker Jake Colon forced a Cougar turnover, Sanborn threw his first of three interceptions on the afternoon. Kean capitalized and drove down the field, scoring their first touchdown of the game.
The second half was defined by the running game, as well as punishing defensive play. Adjustments made in the locker room paid dividends, as the defense was able to out-scheme the Cougars, completely neutralizing the quarterback draw, which they have relied on heavily. Senior defensive back Sherard Cooper kept top Kean receiver junior Alex Bryant relatively quiet.
Lewis continued his career day on the ground to help bleed down the clock. He averaged 9.3 yards per carry throughout the contest, gaining many by powering through tackles. Lewis finished with a career-high 176 rushing yards.
Fifth-year running back Abellany Mendez added on another 54 yards, as well as breaking loose for a 15-yard touchdown which sealed the deal for the Red Hawks. A late Kean touchdown proved to be too little too late, as Montclair State took victory.
The team advanced to 3-2 and remained undefeated through two weeks of New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play. In addition to eclipsing the Red Hawk’s win total in 2022, they now sit in first place in the NJAC.
Montclair State returns to action at Sprague Field this Saturday against Salisbury University (2-3, 1-1 NJAC).