September 19, 2015

FDU-Florham Football: - Devils Drop Overtime Thriller to Monarchs in MAC Opener

Photo Courtesy of FDU-Florham Athletics
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The FDU-Florham football team dropped its Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) season opener in dramatic fashion, falling to King's College 35-28 in overtime on Saturday afternoon.

The Devils (1-1) fought valiantly in the see-saw contest to take a fourth-quarter lead before the Monarchs (1-2) tied game in the final seconds and ultimately prevailed in overtime.

Sophomore quarterback Nicholas LaVecchia came on in relief for starting signal caller Tyler Maurer, who was injured in the second quarter, and went 11-of-16 for 76 yards and a touchdown. In one-quarter plus of action, Maurer was 8-of-13 with 72 yards and a touchdown pass.

Second-year wide out Tyler Adams hauled in a game-high seven receptions for 43 yards, while Esaun Mobley made five catches for 59 yards, including a touchdown reception.

King's was led by freshman tailback Gabe Brown, who rushed for 81 yards and a score in the win.

Trailing 7-0 in the first period, the Devils answered when Maurer hooked up with Mobley for a 31-yard touchdown strike. Mobley grabbed the pass in stride at the 15-yardline and out ran two Monarchs defenders before scampering into the end zone for the score.

Both defenses settled in and kept the offenses scoreless until late in the half. With four minutes to go, the two teams exchanged turnovers. First, FDU-Florham senior linebacker Nick Galletta jarred the ball loose from King's wide receiver Matt Demarco and Tim Francisco quickly recovered the fumble.

However, a Devils' fumble gave the ball right back before Jaleel Tyson jumped in front of Hehre's pass and managed to keep his feet in bounds for a momentum-swinging interception.

Two plays later, LaVecchia completed his first career touchdown pass by drilling Pressley on a slant for an 11-yard score, which put the Devils in front 13-7.

In the blink of an eye, the Monarchs responded. Justin Burke took the kickoff 66 yards down to the Devils' 23-yard line and on the next play, reserve quarterback Zach Whitehead rolled out and hit Mike Palmer for a 14-13 Monarchs' lead. Whitehead's touchdown pass was his lone toss of the afternoon as he finished a perfect 1-for-1.

King's carried that lead into the break and concluded an evenly played half with the Devils slightly outgaining the home team 165 to 141 over the first 30 minutes of action.

The Monarchs took their opening drive of the second half 60 yards on 14 plays and stretched their lead to 20-14. After a three-and-out for the offense, the Devils defense emphatically responded when Chris Fitzgerald intercepted Hehre's pass and took it back for a 31-yard touchdown return. Then, Mobley hauled in a pass from LaVecchia for the two-point conversion, which tied the game at 21-21.

FDU-Florham grabbed the lead 28-21 in the third quarter thanks to a four-yard scamper by Ognibene and appeared to be in the driver's seat but with 1:08 to go, the Monarchs marched down the field and eventually tied the game on a five-yard reverse to Demarco 28-28.

King's had first crack at scoring in overtime and a crucial roughing the passer penalty against FDU-Florham eventually setup a one-yard scoring dive by Hehre. Then on the Devils first place from scrimmage in the extra frame, a mishap on a handoff resulted in a fumble, which Bobby Russell quickly pounced on to seal the homecoming-day win for the Monarchs.

Fitzgerald made a game-high 12 tackles, while Tyson finished with five stops and his first interception of the season in the loss. Senior running back Anthony Ognibene rushed for 55 yards on 18 carries to lead the Devils backfield.

Next up for the Devils is the home opener next Friday, September 25 at 7 p.m. against Wilkes University.