Game # 511: Montclair State overcomes FDU-Florham, 25-15, as DiStefano totals 350 yards

 Montclair State overcomes FDU-Florham, 25-15, as DiStefano totals 350 yards

Madison, NJ – D-3 teams Montclair State and FDU-Florham played this past Friday night for the first time in 22 years, and the visiting MSU Red Hawks overcame a surprising first half FDU lead with RB John DiStefano totaling 350 yards of offense and scoring three TDs to give Montclair State a 25-15 win in the season opener for both teams. With the win, the Red Hawks still carry the best all-time record in history in all divisions remaining undefeated with a 13-0-1 record.   For Montclair HC Rick Giancola, it was the 231st win of his career as HC of the Red Hawks as he enters his 34th season.

The Montclair State Red Hawks took an early 7-0 lead on a short pass hauled in by RB John DiStefano who raced downfield fighting off Red Devil tacklers for a 70-yard touchdown in the first.  Frank Schneeberger tacked on three more points to the MSU lead with a 32-yard FG conversion early in the second period.  However, The FDU Red Devils put up more of a fight than we figured starting with a nine-yard out pass from QB Joe McCain to RB Marquis Wright out of the backfield.  On the conversion, back-up QB Robert Madison stood up pivoted around and raced for the right pylon in the end zone for a two-point conversion.  More trickery followed on the ensuing kickoff as PK Nick Maciejewski tapped the ball forward ten yards before recovering it on the 47 to retain possession for the Red Devils.  The result of the chicanery was a scoring drive capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass from to 6-6 frosh WR John Pellegrini to give FDU Florham the lead at the half, 15-10.

Montclair fumbled the ball away on its first possession of the second half, but after taking a punt and starting from the 26, DiStefano struck like lightning again.  On the first play, he swerved and juked as the Devils missed him with several poor arm tackles to take it all the way for a 74-yard TD run.  A two-point try failed, but MSU retook the lead, 16-15.   On the evening, the senior from Red Bank Catholic set his MSU career-highs carrying 26 times for 184 yards, had a 70-yard TD reception, and averaged 25.5 yards on two kickoff returns. Late in the third, a snap from center for FDU sailed over the punter’s head and through the end zone for a safety to add to the Montclair lead heading into the final period, 18-15.

The resulting punt put Montclair at the FDU 49.  The Red Hawks scored quickly as the rain intensified from a light mist to a steady downpour as DiStefano ran it in from two with 13:23 left in the game to make the final score, 25-15, in favor of Montclair (1-0).  Red Hawk defensive tackle Chris DePalma caused a Devil fumble at the MSU 35 that was recovered by DE Joe Falato with 3:52 left. Montclair ran out the clock to seal the victory.  The Red Hawk defense held FDU to -21 yards rushing.

The first half was competitive as both teams seemed to shake out the cobwebs to enter the season, but as the game wore on, play got sloppy with blatant penalties (MSU – 122 yards; FDU – 82 yards) , numerous injury time-outs, poor pass protection primarily by FDU, as well as the aforementioned poor tackling. I wondered if that is a result of limited tackling in practice. I also wonder if pass blocking suffers from limited hitting in practices as well.  A game with no media time-outs whatsoever, lasted about 3 hours and 25 minutes.

FDU (0-1) plays another Friday night game at Robert T. Shields Field in Madison next weed hosting Widener University in its first Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom game.  All remaining games will be against MAC conference rivals.  Montclair starts its New Jersey Athletic Conference schedule with a trip to play Salisbury in Maryland next Saturday. headed to Annapolis, Maryland for the second week in row to see Navy (1-0) open its American Athletic Conference schedule against the UConn Huskies (1-0).

About Steveo

This website is dedicated to my unique and ongoing adventure to continue to see every major Division 1A (I despise the moniker "FBS") football team play in person at least once. I've seen all 124 teams in existence as of 2013 play and plan to attend games with the five newest editions in the next few years. This also records my ongoing adventures attending as many college football games as possible every season. I "officially" started this crazy goal in 1979. The upcoming 2014 season will be the 35th straight year of sharing this fun endeavor with others in person and through weekly reviews about each game I attend. Entering 2014, I have attended 459 NCAA football games at all levels. My book, Tales from the Tailgate: From the Fan who's seen 'em all! published in 2011, tells my story over 30 years of when I attended a game in person played by each D1A team for the first time. Now, I haven't attended a game at every major stadium on each campus (yet) because I'd probably be unemployed and definitely divorced by now. However, I'm proud to report that I remain gainfully employed and have been married to the same woman ("Saint Laurie") for almost 25 years. We have two kids that have recently ventured away from our home in Byram Township, NJ over the last few few years. Our daughter Alex is a junior at the University of South Carolina (Go Gamecocks!), and our son Eric is now enlisted in the United States Navy (Go Navy!). You will find that my site and my book focus on enjoying a passion for college football and great opportunities to have fun with friends and family around the country.

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