UTICA, N.Y. – Visiting Morrisville State College football withstood a second half rally by host Utica College Saturday afternoon, as they closed out the season with their second straight Empire 8 victory behind a 37-35 defeat of the Pioneers on their home field.
The Mustangs wrap up the season with a 4-6 overall record, posting a 2-5 slate within conference play.
Morrisville State jumped out to a 17-0 lead after the opening half, before Utica was able to get on the board and trade scores with the Mustangs throughout the third quarter, sending it into the final frame with a 31-21 visitor advantage.
The Mustangs broadened the gap early in the fourth for the 37-21 lead, but two straight scores by the Pioneers made it a 37-35 ball game with just over four minutes remaining on the clock.
With just three seconds to go, Utica lined up on the Mustangs 18 yard line for a 35 yard field goal attempt, but the ball hooked and sailed wide left of the upright to give Morrisville State the heart stopping victory.
Morrisville State doubled up the Pioneers on the day on the ground, outgaining Utica 294-yards to 140, and edged the hosts in overall total offensive yards, 476 to 391.
Junior running back Nick Edmond (Blythe, Calif.) led all ball carriers for a second straight contest, posting 197 net yards on 31 carries, while registering the first touchdown of the afternoon. His one-yard rushing score capped off an early 53-yard drive in eight plays for the Mustangs at the 9:36 mark in the first quarter for the 7-0 advantage.
Edmond also connected on 1-of-2 pass attempts for 40 yards.
Bill Flatow (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) went 9-for-20 under center, recording 111 yards and two touchdown strikes, including one to Raffaele Bradshaw (Westbury, N.Y.) with 1:43 to go in the second on the 29-yard throwing score that capped off the Mustangs longest drive of the afternoon, a 10-play, 85-yard scoring possession.
Bradshaw posted 54 yards for the Mustangs on four receptions, while teammate Jermaine Cooper (New York, N.Y.) added another four for 64 yards and a score.
Morrisville State also had a big game from kicker Kinsey Williams (Holland Patent, N.Y.) who posted a 25-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, completing 4-of-5 PAT's throughout the contest.
After a Utica touchdown just over two minutes into the third to cut the Mustang lead to 10, Kraig Gilbert (Silver Creek, N.Y.) broke free for a 34-yard rushing score just over a minute later to regain a 17 point lead for the visitors. Gilbert finished with 52 yards on four carries on the day.
An 11-yard strike from Vinny Aloi to Josh Hood again brought Utica within 10 at the 8:01 mark, but Flatow added a score of his own 1:25 later on a 19-yard scramble.
Keeping with the theme of the quarter, Utica again cut the lead down to 10 with a 22-yard rushing score 27 seconds later, sending the game into the fourth and final frame with a 31-21 Morrisville State lead.
Flatow connected with Cooper minutes into the fourth after gaining possession at midfield, for the 37-21 Mustang advantage, but Utica pushed through and Aloi hit Tahj Clark on a four-yard scoring pass play to cap off the longest drive for the Pioneers of the day and cut the lead to 9. Clark's score completed a nine-play, 89-89 yard drive for Utica, consuming over four minutes of the clock.
Morrisville State drove the ball into Utica territory, and was threatening to score, but Bierria stepped in front of Flatow's pass and returned the ball 80-yards for the defensive score. Utica then attempted a two-point conversion in an effort to even the score, but Aloi had his pass attempt intercepted by Mike Bodnar (Miller Place, N.Y.), making it a 37-35 game in favor of the Mustangs with 4:36 to go in the quarter.
Utica forced Morrisville State to a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, regaining the ball with just over two minutes remaining in the contest. A 22-yard strike from Aloi to Hood brought the ball into Mustang territory, down to the 40 yard line, and three plays later, a 17-yarder to Peyton Miller for a 17-yard gain positioned the ball on the Mustang 24.
Following an offside penalty charged to Morrisville State, Aloi's ensuing pass failed to move the ball, but the Pioneers had prime field possession on the 19-yard line for a last second field goal attempt.
With three seconds showing on the clock, Utica attempted the 35 yard field goal in an effort to claim the win, but the ball hooked left and went wide of the left upright, giving the Mustangs the thrilling victory.
Aloi finished 24-for-31 in passing for 251 yards and three scores, leading the Pioneers offensive efforts, hitting lead receiver Miller a total 11 times for 93 yards. Donovan Brunson added 90 on five receptions.
Lindell Reed led Utica on the ground, collecting a net 116 yards of the Pioneer total 140 yards, on 14 carries for a touchdown score.
Three posted nine total tackles each to lead the Mustang defensive unit, including sophomore lineman Jermaine Rankine (Newburgh, N.Y.) who collected four solo stops in his nine total, including four sacks for a loss of 21 yards.
Kendall Clarke (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Tyler Avanzato (Peru, N.Y.) also recorded nine each, both registering two solo stops.
A pair finished in double digits for Utica, with Keanu Heedram posting a high 12 tackles, while Dylan Sekuterski added 10.
Morrisville State wrapped up the 2017 campaign with two straight wins, capturing their first Empire 8 victory last week as they topped St. John Fisher. Fitzpatrick evened the series record with the Pioneers at 2-2.
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 & World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.