Montclair State Football Gets Decisive Win vs. William Paterson

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Published November 13, 2019
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The Montclarion
Head coach Rick Giancola addresses his team after their win over William Paterson University. Ben Caplan | The Montclarion

In their ninth game of the season, the Red Hawks fought hard to get their record over .500 on Saturday at Sprague Field. Montclair State had a shaky start to begin the match, but came out triumphant to finish it off.

On each of their first two drives, they got into the red zone but not the end zone. The Red Hawks settled for two short field goals on both drives: the first, a 22-yard field goal and the second, a 29-yard field goal.

In the second quarter on their third drive of the game, the Red Hawks scored their first touchdown of the game at 7:57 by freshman running back, Abellany Mendez. He took a hand-off to the right side of the field and ran it in from nine yards out. Within the next minute, Montclair State would get the ball right back off of an interception from sophomore defensive back, Zack Zaccone.

Zaccone talked about the play he made to give the Red Hawks success.

“The quarterback was looking everywhere,” Zaccone said. “He threw the ball so I was just reading off of him and on that play especially. He checked to the wide receiver, the wide receiver and him said ‘check, check, check’ and I picked up on it and picked it off.”

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Senior wide receiver Kason Campbell stares down the Pioneers’ bench after completing a catch on their side of the field.
Ben Caplan | The Montclarion

The scoring streak continued on drive number four. It was capped off by a touchdown grab from senior wide receiver, Kason Campbell. He caught a ball on the right side of the end zone after he ran a double move to try and create space against the defender. He went up and attacked the ball for a 20-0 lead with 5:25 left in the first half. At halftime, it seemed Montclair State was in control of the game.

Junior wide receiver Carsen Johnson commented on the Red Hawks explosive attitude.

“Start fast and finish fast,” Johnson said. “All gas, no break.”

The first score of the second half was a safety at 11:28. William Paterson was punting deep in their own territory as the long snapper snapped the ball over the punter’s head and out of the end zone for a score of 22-0.

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Junior linebacker Seamus Nelson attempts to bring down an elusive Pioneer running back.
Ben Caplan | The Montclarion

For most of the third quarter, it was back-and-forth with just a few first downs. William Paterson finally got on the board at 1:04 of the third quarter. Junior wide receiver, Siraj Abdul-Malik, caught a wheel route down the left side of the field and was untouched on a 82-yard touchdown for a score of 22-6.

Early in the fourth, Montclair State put the game away with another rushing touchdown at 13:48. Junior running back, Craig Merkle, ran the ball in from 14-yards out to make the score 29-6.

Merkle commented on his touchdown.

“It just all worked together,” Merkle said.

In the fourth quarter, William Paterson demonstrated that they might be able to move the ball, but did not add to the scoreboard.

Just when it looked like no other scoring would occur, at 1:22, in the fourth quarter, junior defensive back Jalen Harris jumped a pass on the right side of the defense for a 21-yard pick six and a final score of 36-6.

After the game, Head Coach Rick Giancola talked about his team’s win.

“We always feel like we have a chance to be good and win the game, so we were confident coming in,” Giancola said. “I was a little disappointed about our play. I thought it was sloppy at times, and if we’re going to try to get better at playing football, then some of the stuff that went on today has to be eliminated.”

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