Courtesy of William Paterson Athletics
. - William Paterson (4-6, 3-6 NJAC) owned a narrow 8-7 lead less than four minutes before halftime, but the Pioneers eventually closed their season with a 21-8 Senior Day loss to No. 22 Montclair State (9-1, 8-1 NJAC) in the regular-season finale for both teams Nov. 13 at Wightman Stadium.
With the win, the Red Hawks finished in a three-way tie with SUNY Cortland (8-1 NJAC) and Rowan (8-1 NJAC) for the top spot in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) standings, and will await word on which team will receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs when the opponents’ opponents’ winning percentages are determined at the conclusion of all of today’s Division III action. The win also was the 200th in the 28 seasons coached by Rick Giancola (200-88-2).
William Paterson drew first blood when Montclair State lined up to punt from its own 21-yard line. Trying to exploit the Pioneers, who were not lined up for the fourth-down play, the Red Hawks quickly snapped the ball back to punter Joe Liscio (Little Falls, N.J./Passaic Valley), but it sailed over his head and rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety with 8:29 showing on the clock in the first quarter.
The Pioneers got the ball back on the free kick, but turned it over on downs at the MSU-29. The two teams traded punts until early in the second quarter, when Montclair quarterback Tom Fischer Livingston, N.J./Livingston) found Bobby Roesing (Secaucus, N.J./Secaucus) for a 41-yard gain to the Pioneers’ 19-yard line. Joe LaSala (Clark, N.J./Colonia) snared a high pass from Fischer to cover the final 14 yards, and Jake DelVento (Island Heights, N.J./Toms River South) added the extra points for a 7-2 Red Hawk lead 2:50 into the second quarter.
William Paterson started its next drive at its own 29-yard line and marched all the way down to the Montclair State-4, twice benefitting from sophomore quarterback Ryan Gresik (Newton, N.J./Newton) pulling the ball down and running for big gains. But, on third-and-goal, junior running back Corey Paladino (Lodi, N.J./Lodi) threw into the arms of Dan Avento (Montvale, N.J./Pascack Hills) in the end zone on the failed trick play.
That play didn’t keep the Pioneers off the scoreboard for long, though, as A.J. Scoppa (New Milford, N.J./New Milford) fumbled on the Red Hawks’ second play on the ensuing drive and senior defensive back Leer Biddle (Sicklerville, N.J./Lenape) collected the loose ball and sprinted 22 yards for a William Paterson touchdown. The extra point was wide, but the Pioneers were ahead, 8-7, with 3:46 remaining in the first half.
A 24-yard completion from Fischer to LaSala ignited the next MSU drive, and Scoppa finished it off with a one-yard surge through the left side of the line. DelVento’s kick was true, and the Red Hawks snatched back the lead at 14-8 with 44.7 seconds to play before halftime.
DelVento had a chance to add to that margin less than seven minutes into the third period, but his 27-yard attempt was wide right. The two teams were content to trade punts until early in the fourth quarter, when freshman Cory Mundt’s (Rockaway, N.J./Morris Hills) kick from his own end zone was returned 17 yards by Byron Lewin (Carteret, N.J./Carteret) to the Pioneers’ 13-yard line. Three rushes, the last for four yards by Matt Jimenez (Waldwick, N.J./Waldwick), made it a two-score game at 21-8 with 11:57 remaining. Neither team registered a first down for the remainder of the contest.
Gresik was 7-for-20 for 64 yards through the air, while sophomore Dawys German (North Arlington, N.J./North Arlington) led the ground game with 15 carries and 39 yards. Sophomore tight end Joseph Cordato (Bayonne, N.J./Bayonne) caught a pair of passes for 22 yards.
Junior bandit Doug Dudek (Rockaway, N.J./Morris Hills) led the Pioneer defense with 12 tackles (five solo, 2.0 TFL), while senior defensive lineman Dyon Moore (Brooklyn, N.Y./Hudson Catholic) had nine stops and sophomore linebacker Luigi Napolitano, Jr. (Morris Plains, N.J./Parsippany Hills) contributed seven tackles.
Fischer was 6-for-13 for 134 yards and a touchdown for the Red Hawks. Jimenez gained 85 yards and scored once on 23 attempts, while Scoppa rushed 13 times for 49 yards and a score. LaSala led the receiving corps with four catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Junior defensive back Chad Faulcon (Cranford, N.J./Cranford) made a team-best nine tackles (four solo, 1.0 sack). Avento registered eight stops and an interception, and senior defensive back Ed Kirschenbaum (Lake Como, N.J./Manasquan) posted seven tackles.