Courtesy Castleton Sports Information
CASTLETON – The Spartan defense pitched a shutout and held Mount Ida to just three first downs through the first three quarters as they built a 31-0 lead before finishing with a 34-14 victory to earn their first conference win of the year on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium.
Castleton dominating the line of scrimmage throughout, accumulating 414 yards of offense, including 230 rushing yards as the team improved to 3-2 and 1-1 in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. The Mustangs totaled 175 yards of offense, after having just 40 at the half, as they dropped to 1-4 and 1-1 in the ECFC. The game was marred slightly by penalties as the teams combined to accumulate 31 penalties for 225 yards.
The Castleton defense held Mount Ida to 1-for-11 on third down and just 21 minutes of total possession while picking off three passes and recording a pair of sacks. Darren Callan had a team-high eight tackles while Brett Denning added six stops, one sack and two tackles for a loss. In his first career start on defense, Tyler Higley picked off a pair of passes and has two pass breakups.
George Busharis was efficient behind center for the Spartans, going 19-for-26 for 184 yards and one touchdown while throwing a pair of interceptions.Soren Pelz-Walsh caught six passes for 65 yards and a score while Makai Hawkins had six receptions for 56 yards and two rushes for 24. Moe Harrisanchored the ground game, recording 27 of the team’s program-record 53 rushes, for 161 yards and a pair of scores. The freshman also caught three passes for 44 yards.
Freshman Jack Sheehan had trouble against the Castleton defense, completing 9 of 23 passes for 64 yards with a single touchdown and three picks. Faouzi Talabi caught four passes for 22 yards and score while Melquawn Pinkney rushed for 104 yards on 11 attempts, including a 53-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth.
Mount Ida received the ball to start the contest, but on third down was picked off on a one-handed catch by Mark Alberque. The Spartans took advantage and marched down to the Mustangs’ six-yard line in eight plays, setting up a six-yard rush by Harris for his first touchdown.
In the second quarter and starting on its own 32-yard line, Castleton moved down the field and pushed the lead to 14-0 on a one-yard touchdown rush by Corey Brimmer with 6:58 left in the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Joshua Stearns hit a line drive kick which bounced off a Mustang player and the Callan recovered the ball at the Mount Ida 31-yard line. The Spartans used six plays to stretch their lead to 21-0, with Harris running between the tackles for a five-yard score with 4:37 remaining.
The Mustangs took over on their own 35-yard line but two plays later gave it back to Castleton as Jay Morgan recovered a fumble at the 34-yard line. The Spartans burned some clock and pushed their lead to 24-0 on a 26-yard field goal by Bobby Lineberger with 11 seconds left.
In the third period Castleton stretched its advantage to 31-0 at 8:04, as Busharis found Pelz-Walsh in the back corner of the endzone, with the wide receiver getting a foot down and securing the ball before being pushed out of bounds.
Mount Ida got on the board early in the fourth quarter as Pinkney burst through the line for a 53-yard touchdown run on second down. Matt Greenman ran in the two-point conversion to make it 31-8 with 12:27 left.
Bobby Lineberger then connected on a 26-yard field goal with 4:21 left and the Mustangs tacked on a late three-yard touchdown pass to provide the 34-14 final.
Castleton is back home next Saturday as the team hosts Gallaudet at 12 pm.