MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – Visiting Hartwick College's Brian McGovern connected on a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give the Hawks the come-from-behind 43-41 Empire 8 victory over host Morrisville State College Saturday afternoon on Drake Field in Morrisville.
Hartwick battled back from a 41-27 deficit after three quarters to pull within one point midway through the final frame before hitting the game winning field goal as time expired.
The loss drops Morrisville State to 0-6 on the year, 0-5 in Empire 8 play, while Hartwick picks up their first conference win at 1-3, improving to 2-4 overall.
Morrisville State edged the Hawks in total yards offensively, collecting 498 yards on the day, including 300 yards in the passing game.
Brandon Gwinner (Schenectady, N.Y.) started under center for the Mustangs, completing 8-of-10 passes in the opening quarter for 94 yards and a touchdown, before Cory Benedetto (Rochester, N.Y.) replaced Gwinner for the remainder of the contest.
Benedetto completed 13-of-20 attempts for 206 yards and three scores, including two touchdown passes to wide receiver Marcus Jackson-Conner (Sodus, N.Y.). Jackson-Conner finished the contest with a team high 154 yards on eight receptions.
Morrisville State compiled 198 net yards in the running game on the day, 79 on the foot of running back Darrell West (Syracuse, N.Y.) who collected 79 on 18 carries for a score. Benedetto added 51 on 14 attempts, and a touchdown.
Richardson Derosena (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led the defensive efforts for the Mustangs, making 12 total stops on the day, including nine solo, as teammate Kendall Clarke (Brooklyn, N.Y.) added seven, including an assisted tackle for a loss of one yard.
Hartwick posted a net 479 yards in total offense, taking to the air for 270 on the afternoon behind a 16-for-26 performance from quarterback Billy Pine. Pine connected for two passing scores, and added 72 yards on the ground for a touchdown.
Tito Pichardo posted a net 134 yards in the running game on 23 carries for two touchdowns, while teammate Koree Reed caught six passes for 151 yards and two scores.
Mark Hackett and Malik Wynter each had nine total tackles on the day for the Hawk defense, combining for 11 solo and four for a loss of 14 total yards.
It was a battle of the offensive units in the opening quarter as Morrisville State and Hartwick traded scores throughout the frame for a 14-13 visitor lead after the first 15.
Gwinner opened the contest with a 24-yard connection over center to tight end Tim Remillard (Peru, N.Y.), completing the 10-play, 75 yard drive, to give the hosts the early 6-0 lead just four minutes in.
Within minutes, though, Hartwick marched downfield in seven plays to take the 7-6 lead at the 6:49 mark as Pine hit Reed as he was falling out of the back of the end zone.
On the ensuing Morrisville State possession, West got a block to the left and scrambled into the end zone untouched to regain the lead for the hosts with just over a minute remaining in the first, but Hartwick responded with their quickest drive of the game, regaining the lead before the end of the quarter.
Pine drove the Hawks 82 yards in three plays and hit Reed on a 28-yard pass play who was lunging for the end zone for the 14-13 advantage.
Morrisville State regained the lead late in the second quarter as Benedetto finally got over the goal line after three goal line stands by the Hartwick defense.
The Mustangs struck again with 1:40 to go in the quarter as Benedetto hit Remillard for a second time in the contest for a 32-yard scoring play and 27-14 home lead, but on the ensuing kickoff and a mere 14 seconds later David Van Alstine returned the ball 95-yards for a responding Hawk score.
Morrisville State carried a 34-20 lead into the half after Benedetto connected with Jackson-Conner on the goal line for an arm extending 18-yard scoring reach with 5.5 seconds showing on the clock.
In the third, Hartwick was moving the ball until safety Eddie Campos (Rome, N.Y.) came up with the interception to gain possession for the Mustangs, but the hosts turned the ball over on downs a series later as the Hawk defense got a break.
A Hartwick score midway through brought the visitors within one possession of the Mustangs, but Benedetto again hit Jackson-Conner for his second touchdown of the day at the 5:03 mark to regain the two score lead for Morrisville State.
In the fourth, Scott Irons (Syracuse, N.Y.) made a huge defensive stop for the Mustangs on a first and goal opportunity for Hartwick, but that wasn't enough as Pine scrambled around the right corner and into the end zone for a score to cut the lead to seven.
On the following Hawk possession, Pine threw a 55-yard strike to Reed and followed with a 12-yard gain on the foot of Pichardo, before Pichardo capped off the 75-yard, five play drive with a nine-yard run to make it a one point game. The point after attempt by McGovern was blocked by Campos, leaving the Mustangs with the slim 41-40 lead midway through the final frame.
Morrisville State attempted to move the ball on the following drive, but the Hawk defense made two big plays to keep the Mustangs out of the red zone. Marcus Mistersaro forced Benedetto back and collected the 12-yard sack, before Hackett knocked down a long ball to Jackson-Conner to save the long gain and force a third down situation.
On third and 22, Benedetto broke two tackles in his scramble to reach the first down, but it wasn't enough as the ball was returned to the visitors with 4:26 showing on the clock.
Hartwick ate up most of the clock on the final drive before facing a fourth and five situation with one tick remaining. McGovern sent the 28-yard field goal attempt through the uprights for the game winning score, as the Hawks picked up the 43-41 conference win.
Morrisville State returns to the field next Saturday, traveling to Ithaca College.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2016 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2016 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.