Spartans Outlast Mustangs on Late Touchdown Runs

Spartans Outlast Mustangs on Late Touchdown Runs

CASTLETON, Vt. – In a back-and-forth affair that saw over 800 yards of total offense combined, Castleton University used two late touchdown runs by Moe Harris to defeat Mount Ida College, 35-31, Saturday afternoon in an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference contest at Spartan Stadium.

Harris finished the day with 126 yards on 25 carries, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Quarterback Mitchell Caron enjoyed his best passing day of the season, completing 12-of-16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Adnane Adossama caught three of those passes for 108 yards. Defensively, Jakob Trautwein finished with 16 tackles, including 10 solo tackles, as well as a forced fumble and a key pass breakup late in the game.

Castleton opened the second half with a fleaflicker, as Caron handed off to Harris, who gave the ball to Ryan Barry, who pitched it back to Caron, who found Adossama wide open down the field for a 61-yard touchdown pass. Mount Ida responded with its own trick play, faking a punt to gain a first down near midfield, but the Mustangs would turn the ball over on downs.

The Spartans threatened to increase their lead with a nine-play, 54-yard drive that stalled on the Mustang 18-yard line, but Ryan Payne's field goal attempt was blocked by Chris Medeiros and brought back all the back to the Castleton end zone by DeSean Hart. However, two Mustang penalties wiped out the touchdown and forced Mount Ida to start its next drive from its own 16-yard line, a drive that would end with a punt.

Castleton tried another trick play on fourth-and-three from the Mustang four-yard line, but a pass from Jared Brockway intended for Caron fell incomplete. Mount Ida responded with an 18-play, 96-yard drive that took 9:27, with Mustang quarterback Mike Pina completing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Nick Hewitt to give the visitors a 25-21 lead with 3:41 left in regulation.

Caron completed passes to Adossama for 28 yards and to Tyler Hall for 12 yards to bring the Spartans into the red zone. Harris did the rest of the work, sprinting 20 yards for his first touchdown of the day to put Castleton back on top, 28-25, with 1:47 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Mustangs turned the ball over on downs after Trautwein batted away Pina's pass attempt on fourth down, and Harris put the game away on the next play with a 42-yard touchdown run, his longest run of the season. Mount Ida ran out the final 52 seconds with a seven-play drive, capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Pina to Hewitt as time ran out.

Mount Ida (2-3, 1-1 ECFC) took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, featuring a 40-yard run up the middle by De'Andre Goldson-Fisher. Goldson-Fisher would punch it in from two yards out on third-and-goal to give the Mustangs the early 7-0 lead.

Midway through the first quarter, Castleton started a drive on the Mustang 34-yard line and used five plays, including a 10-yard completion from Caron to Harris on a 4th-and-3. Caron then found Jermaine Coggins in the corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 7-7.

After a Mount Ida three-and-out, the Spartans put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive that took 5:11, capped by a five-yard touchdown run by Caron on a quarterback keeper. The Mustangs would close to within one as Goldson-Fisher once again went up the middle, this time for a 36-yard touchdown run, but the extra point attempt was blocked by Zak Pollicino, keeping Castleton on top, 14-13.

Castleton went three-and-out, and the Mustangs responded with a seven-play, 72-yard drive at the end of the first half, with Pina completing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kolbie Humble to give the visitors the 19-14 lead at halftime.

The Mustangs finished with 429 yards of total offense and close to 34 minutes of possession time, but Mount Ida was hurt by 10 penalties totaling 98 yards. Goldson-Fisher finished with 163 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns, while Pina completed 18-of-32 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns.

The Spartans ended the day with 374 yards of total offense, their best offensive output of the season. Caron completed his first nine passes in a row as he finished with a completion percentage of 75 percent, and Harris cracked the 100-yard mark in rushing and scored multiple touchdowns for the third straight game.

Castleton (3-2, 2-0 ECFC) heads to Bangor, Maine for a contest against defending ECFC champion Husson next Saturday, Oct. 14, starting at 1 p.m. It will be a battle for first place in the league, as the Eagles also improved to 2-0 within the conference with a 35-17 victory over SUNY Maritime Saturday afternoon.