The St. Lawrence University football team suffered its first defeat of the 2013 season on Saturday in Morrisville, NY, as SUNY Morrisville quarterback Lemar Johnson connected with Anthony Gray for three touchdowns en route to a 28-23 victory for the Mustangs at Drake Field. Senior wide receiver Mike Tateosian caught two touchdowns for the Saints while junior Colby Johnson had a game-high 10 catches for 101 yards.
Morrisville, which was celebrating Mustang Weekend on campus, improves to 1-2 thanks to Cristian Pena's 163-yard effort on the ground. Johnson finished 12-for-18 passing with four touchdowns for the home team, while quarterback Mike Lefflbine was 23-of-38 for 233 yards and two scores.
"We made way too many mistakes today against a good football team," said Saints' head coach Mark Raymond. "We will certainly have to clean things up as we head into league play."
The win was the first for Mustang head coach Curt Fitzpatrick, as his team outgained St. Lawrence 411-322. The Saints (2-1) were plagued by 10 penalties for 91 yards and totaled only 89 yards on the ground in the blustery conditions. Defensively, Andrew Cox finished with a game-high 13 tackles including 2.0 for a loss, while Obi Nwaigwe had 12 tackles, a sack, and deflected a pass which led to an Alec Dietsch interception.
Morrisville had numerous chances to open up a big lead in the first quarter, but failed to connect on several deep passes over the middle. After Nwaigwe made two clutch plays on fourth down to force turnovers on downs, the Saints capitalized and took a 7-0 lead. The Saints covered 68 yards in four plays, with the big strike coming on a 35-yard rush up the middle by CJ Stewart for a touchdown. Collin Shapiro added the extra point for the 7-0 advantage with 2:32 to play in the first.
The Mustangs answered with a touchdown drive of their own, as Johnson took a huge hit but managed to find Josh Powell for a 20-yard score with 18.2 seconds left in the quarter. Zach Drake's extra point knotted the score at the end of one.
The Saints would own a 10-7 lead at halftime thanks to a 23-yard field goal by Shapiro after a drive stalled at the Mustang 6-yard line. St. Lawrence's defense would play its best quarter in the second, as they forced two punts and Cam Ferrara made his first career interception to shut down a drive.
The home team would regroup intermission, however, and came out firing in the third quarter, scoring on back-to-back drives to take a 21-10 lead. Johnson orchestrated a sound 6-play, 64-yard drive and connected with Gray for a 15-yard score to take the lead. After the Saints went 3-and-out, the Mustangs went 51 yards in seven plays, with Gray again scoring from 15 yards out. Drake's extra points brought the lead to 11 with 7:34 to play in the third.
St. Lawrence's offense delivered a clutch drive of its own on the ensuing possession and marched 75 yards in 12 plays to cut into the lead. Lefflbine completed 5-of-6 passes on the drive, including the 25-yard touchdown strike to Tateosian to cap the possession with 1:15 to go in the third. Shapiro managed the extra point, bringing the score to 21-17.
On the first offensive play on the Mustangs' drive, Nwaigwe batted Johnson's pass up into the air and the ball was picked by Dietsch at the Morrisville 27-yard line. However, the Saints were unable to capitalize and came away empty, turning the ball over on downs heading into the fourth quarter.
With the Saints failing to score, Morrisville put together an impressive drive that covered 68 yards, moving the chains effectively. Johnson capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Gray with 10:51 to go, giving the Mustangs a 28-17 lead. However, St. Lawrence came right back behind Lefflbine, as he moved the ball the length of the field before finding Tateosian for another touchdown to keep his team in the game. Johnson hauled in a crucial catch on the drive as well, but the two point conversion failed, keeping Morrisville's 28-23 lead intact.
With 7:58 to go, Morrisville flipped the field thanks to Johnson, who motored 48 yards into St. Lawrence territory, and was awarded 15 more on a personal foul penalty against the Saints. After three rushes by Pena, Morrisville settled for a field goal try for drake, but his 25-yard attempt sailed wide left, giving the Saints hope with 5:14 to play down by just five.
Though the Scarlet and Brown got the ball to its own 30, two penalties would stall the drive and another 15-yard penalty on the ensuing punt would give Morrisville great field position with only 3:31 to play. The Mustangs would move the chains on 3rd-and-5, fittingly on a 6-yard QB rush by Johnson, who lunged for the first down to ensure his team of the victory, 28-23.
St. Lawrence will look to rebound next weekend when it opens Liberty League play at Union College in Schenectady, NY. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00pm on Saturday, September 28.