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Montclair State Set For Home Opener Against Rowan University

(Photo via Montclair State Athletics)

(Photo via Montclair State Athletics)


After starting the first two games of the 2016 regular season on the road, the Montclair State Red Hawks home opener is this upcoming Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at Sprague Field against Rowan. Last Saturday, the Red Hawks lost 40-20 at Salisbury.

Freshman quarterback Ryan Adzima won his second straight NJAC Offensive of the Week honor. Adzima went 16 for 27 and 198 yards along with two touchdown and one interception against Salisbury. Senior running back John DiStefano had another solid game on the ground rushing for 113 yards. Junior defensive backs Shaon Stephenson and Dylan Elliott and defensive lineman Vincent Cordasco each registered 10 tackles apiece.

“Most important thing when you have lineman getting 10 tackles that young man is playing good football and not easy to do when they run a triple option against you and not knowing where the football is until it’s snapped and go through process of reads,” Montclair State head coach Rick Giancola said. “Vinny played really well, Shaon in the secondary and its pretty hard for secondary guys to get off the blocks in the open when guys are trying to cut block you and try to avoid that to make some tackles.”

Down 21-7 at halftime, Salisbury scored 13 points in the third quarter taking a commanding lead. Montclair State was outgained 569-293, with Salisbury tallying 461 rushing yards.

“We were down after first two series when the game was tied at 7-7,” explained Giancola. “We had a very hard time stopping them because they run a triple option and you have to be disciplined. They didn’t break long runs on us but enough runs to get first downs and yardage. They got in the end zone several times.”

“I thought Ryan did an adequate job because everybody knew we had to throw and under that type of pressure he handled himself okay,” said Giancola. “John had one long run that tied the game up for us but had several runs of 5, 6 and 7 yards that were critical for us moving the football but as we started to fall behind they were less and less opportunities for him to run the ball. He played well, ran well and controlled the ball.”

Last year the Red Hawks lost by a slim margin 13-7 to Rowan. In the fourth quarter quarterback Dante Pinckney heaved a 92-yard score. This season Pinckney has completed 34 of 56 passes for 523 yards with 5 TD’s and 2 INT’s.

“First you want to play good defense, good field position and kicking game that can allow you to have good field position and do something with it,” Giancola said. “We have not been as strong as we wanted to be offensively and had our troubles. A couple of our offensive lineman were injured and that has a lot to do with how we can perform as well as John and Ryan. Our line has to play better and defense has to stop the run even though their QB is a good athlete.”

“You first stop the run so it’s a little bit easier to pass defend when it’s 2nd and 3rd long and prepare to play the pass,” he continued. “That’s the key if we can stop them defensively. It’s always comfortable to play at home and have a routine but when you step on that field you have to play well and we have not been consistent in the last two games.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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