By Cameryn Martin
Montclair State Football returned to play Saturday after a brutal 2021 campaign. The one bright side of the 2021 team was that defense.
The Red Hawks did not allow Thiel to score an offensive touchdown with their only points coming from an interception return for a touchdown. Brennan Ray blocked the ensuing extra point attempt.
The next offensive drive for the Red Hawks saw Mason Murdock lead an eight-play, 69-yard drive with Makai Mickens finishing the job with a one-yard touchdown run. An Andrew Myerson extra point gave the Red Hawks a 7-6 lead.
On the very next play on kick-off, Keyshawn Dixon forced a fumble where Dylan Sharkey was able to recover on the Thiel 40-yard line.
A few plays later on a fourth and long situation, Murdock connected with Clarence Wilkins on an out route where Wilkins had space to take it for a 30-yard touchdown and gave the Red Hawks a 14-6 lead going into the half.
After a series of punts to start the third quarter, Mike Fitzpatrick pinned the Tomcats deep in their own territory. Mike Ramos came off the edge with a safety blitz and sacked the quarterback on second down and a short completion on third down set up a fourth and long.
Steven Tafuri blocked the ensuing punt which Jalil Terrell scooped up and ran it in to put Montclair State up 20-6. Ramos picked off a pass early in the 4th which led Mickens to score another rushing touchdown.
Nick Burgess caught an interception late in the game and seal the Red Hawks’ 27-6 victory.
Abellany Mendez and Mickens both rushed for over a combined 100 yards. Reilly Nelson led with four catches and 84 yards while Wilkins had three for 103 and a touchdown. Mason Murdock finished with nine completions for 171 yards passing, eight yards rushing, a touchdown and a pair of interceptions in his first collegiate start.
On the defensive side of the ball, Burgess led with eight tackles and an interception. Ramos had six tackles, one-and-a-half tackles for a loss, a sack and an interception. Dorian Gashi had four tackles including one for a loss. Dimitri Pali had three tackles and a sack.
The Red Hawks return to host #14 Delaware Valley Saturday at noon.
Photos by Sal DiMaggio