MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – Senior Jay Gwaltney rushed for over 100 yards and added a 54-yard touchdown reception and junior Jamahl Williams had a pair of interceptions to lead the Kean University football team to a 27-9 win over Morrisville State College in New Jersey Athletic Conference action.
After falling to NJAC preseason favorite SUNY Cortland a week ago to open the season, the Cougars (1-1. 1-1 NJAC) rebounded by jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Mustangs (0-2, 0-1 NJAC) scored nine points in the third quarter to pull within 17-9, however Kean closed out the win with 10 points in the final stanza.
Junior quarterback Thomas D’Ambrisi opened the scoring on the Cougars’ first drive of the game, scampering for the nine-yard touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead six minutes into the game. After getting the ball at their own 40-yard line to open the game when the opening kickoff went out-of-bounds, D’Ambrisi completed 3-of-4 passes for 37 yards, including a 20-yard strike to junior Chris Suozzo, and Gwaltney carried the ball six times for 19 yards, before D’Ambrisi finished the drive with the touchdown run
Late in the quarter, Willliams made his first interception of the year count, returning the ball 32-yards for the touchdown with 27 seconds remaining in the quarter, as the Cougars extended the lead to 14-0 following the extra point.
After a scoreless second quarter of play, the Mustangs got on the board in the third quarter when punter Peter Mars pinned the Cougars at their own two-yard line and sophomore linebacker Enrique Robinson tackled Gwaltney in the end zone on the first play of the drive for the two-point safety.
On the ensuing Morrisville State drive, Kean senior cornerback Chris Lauda intercepted the ball in Kean territory and the Cougars would score on the subsequent possession, as kicker Billy Daniels booted the 29-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-2 with 6:50 remaining in the quarter.
Morrisville State answered right back after the kickoff went out-of-bounds, giving the Mustangs excellent field position at their own 40-yard line. The Mustangs then took advantage of three Kean penalties, the last of which set-up first and goal at the one-yard line, and after the Cougars held on first down, senior Joe Shue completed the one-yard pass to senior fullback Sean Barrett and the Mustangs pulled to within 17-9 with 3:27 left in the quarter after the extra point.
The Mustangs then caught a break on the Cougars’ next possession, when defensive tackle David Williams forced the fumble on the Cougars’ first play of the drive and junior Anthony Brown recovered the ball. After a Mustang penalty moved the ball back across midfield and into Morrisville State territory, the Mustangs moved the ball down to the Kean 25-yard line before turning the ball over on downs on fourth-and-8 with 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Kean opened the fourth quarter with a scoring drive, as back-up quarterback Anthony Giordano completed 3-of-5 passes for 18 yards and Gwaltney carried the ball five times for 39 yards before Daniels kicked his second field goal of the day, this time good from 32-yards out for the 20-9 lead with 9:49 left in the game.
The two teams traded turnovers on each of their next possessions and the Cougars forced the Mustangs into a three-and-out to set up the final scoring drive of the game. Opening the drive on their own 43-yard line, Giordano and Gwaltney connected on the 54-yard touchdown on the third play of the drive to extend the lead to 27-9 following the extra point.
Gwaltney carried the ball 25 times for 108 yards rushing, while also adding three receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown. Suozzo made a team-high five receptions for 47 yards and completed one pass for 34 yards.
D’Ambrisi completed 8-of-14 passes for 67 yards in the first half, while Giordano finished with six completions for 91 yards.
Defensively, rookie linebacker Jerelle Peay led the Cougars in tackles for the second straight game, finishing with seven tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a seven yard loss. The Cougars made five interceptions in the game, as Williams picked off the Mustangs twice and Lauda, junior Bekim Bujari and senior Andre Dozier each added interceptions.
For the Mustangs, Shue completed 11-of-26 passes fpr 96 yards, as Kyle Gordon and Maurice Mitchell each had three receptions.
Brown made a game-high 12 tackles and recovered one fumble, while Robinson added eight tackles, two tackles for a loss and one fumble recovery.
The Cougars remain on the road in New York, taking on Buffalo State College on Saturday, September 25, at Noon.
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