It was unusually warm for November and it was a close match as Montclair State University had just squeezed out a win against Frostburg State University, 33-27.
Senior running back Denzel Nieves rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns while freshman Ryan Deleon kicked two 41-yard field goals. Coupled with the stout performance of the defense, Montclair State has now moved on to a 4-5 record overall.
Montclair State received the opening kickoff and took it 58 yards before having to settle for a Deleon field goal with 10:40 left in the first quarter. Two possessions later, the FSU Bobcats took a Montclair State punt 47 yards and down to the Red Hawk four-yard line. Bobcat quarterback Connor Cox connected with Myles Burgess and, after a failed field goal, surpassed Montclair State, 6-3.
The Red Hawks responded with a Ryan-Davies-to-Aaron-Williams 63-yard touchdown bomb that threw the score boards up to 10-6. FSU’s Isaac Robinson was found for a 22-yard score that cut the lead to 10-9.
However, after a gorgeous John DiStefano return combined with a personal foul penalty, Montclair State began their possession at the FSU 14-yard line. Within the following two plays, Nieves curved out to the left side for another Montclair State touchdown, putting their lead up to 16-9.
The defense also prospered, with linebacker Joshua Betts recovering a fumble and returning it to the Frostburg 30-yard line. Deleon would once again convert the field goal, placing the score at 19-9 with 7:57 left in the half. The Bobcats marched down to the Montclair State 23-yard line, but were met by defensive lineman Josh Brown, who forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive back Rahmein Herron at the Montclair State 17-yard line.
DiStefano had rushed for three-yard and six-yard plays before popping off for a 74-yard run down the right sideline and into the end zone as the Red Hawks bumped up their lead to 26-9 with 1:38 left in the first half. FSU countered with a quick score and a two-point conversion just before halftime, leaving the score at 26-17 heading into the locker room.
With eight minutes left to go in the third quarter, Frostburg narrowed the scoring gap by hitting Robinson for a 20-yard score. Later, the Bobcats drove to the Montclair State one-yard line and failed on a critical fourth-down conversion thanks to linebacker Nick Catalano.
Billy Shimko ended another FSU drive in the fourth quarter with a pick at the Montclair State 11-yard line.
However, Montclair State ended up returning it to Frostburg with a fumble at their own 27-yard line. Again, the Bobcats would be forced to go for it on fourth-down and were denied by freshman defensive lineman Devin Terry. Montclair State would regain possession with 8:45 left in the game.
The Red Hawks took that turnover and turned it into a nine-play, 82-yard march that ate 5:48 minutes off the clock. Nieves compiled for half the yards, but thanks to receptions by Joe Shultz on a 3rd-and-7 and Julanee Prince on a 3rd-and-14, the drive would continue. Nieves would finish the drive with a 25-yard run that would cap off the score at 33-27 with 3:02 left in the game.
Through acts of perseverance, the Bobcats would not be denied with that much time left on the clock. With just 1:10 left in the game, FSU had a fresh set of downs at the Montclair State 45-yard line. However, after Frostburg used their timeouts, Herron inevitably intercepted Cox and sunk the dagger in for a Montclair State victory.
DiStefano finished the game with 99 yards over eight carries while MSU put up 223 rushing yards all together. Davies was 10-for-17 for 158 yards, with Prince hauling in three for 50 yards. Michael Klimek and Shimko would lead the defense with 12 tackles each while Michael Tenpenny added 11 and Michael Stradford added eight. Catalano tallied four tackles, three of which registered as TFLs.
The Red Hawks will close their 2015 season with a home game against Kean University, Saturday, Nov. 14, at 1 p.m.