Mustang football eyes conference title

Stevenson football loses to Bridgewater 22-37 in home opener On Saturday night at Mustang Stadium in Owings Mills.

Stevenson’s 2019 football team fell in its home opener against Bridgewater College on Sept. 14  and then had to face perennial Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) foe and last season’s conference champions, Delaware Valley University, a week later.  

After the Mustangs’ first win of the season against Curry College (Sept. 6), head coach Ed Hottle noted that “the guys learned that they have to be able to win on the road,” adding that the offense is still a work in progress, and that the team is still “finding our groove,” offensively.

Justin Rutkowski, freshman quarterback, takes the snap with sophomore running back Kevin Joppy to his left. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

The Mustangs welcomed the Eagles of Virginia’s Bridgewater College for the home opener in a packed stadium as Stevenson struggled early to find the end zone in the first two quarters.  The Mustangs found life in the second half as sophomore quarterback Ryan Sedgwick opened the scoring by leading the Mustangs on a 10-play drive, capping it with a touchdown catch by Keenan Franz. Despite a strong third quarter during which Stevenson cut the Eagles’ lead to 23-14, the Mustangs ultimately fell short, 37-22.

Hottle explained the Mustangs’ second half surge, noting that there were players nicked up from last week’s game who were not able to practice until later in the week. He added that it took these players the first half to get back up to game speed.  Hottle believes that the team bounced back after hearing his half-time speech, and  added that it said a lot about the team bringing it to a one-score game in the fourth quarter, noting that if the team had played that well for four quarters, they could have won.

On the road against conference rival Delaware Valley University on Sept. 21, the Mustangs knew that this game has been traditionally close and has decided the conference champion the last couple of years. Chase Cole, a junior wide receiver for the Mustangs, said that the team was excited to open up conference play at Delaware Valley University.

“Top to bottom,” Hottle said, he believes the MAC is one of the best conferences in the country, adding that the conference is not decided until week 11. Anyone on any given day, he said, can beat anyone in the conference.

Sophomore running back Saadiq Pitts shrugs off tacklers as he takes on the Bridgewater defense. Stevenson fell 37-22 to Bridgewater. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

However, against Delaware Valley, the Mustangs got off to a slower start than they might have wanted, as the Aggies scored twice before Stevenson got on the board. An eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 28-yard completion from Sedgwick to Chaz Lyles got the Mustangs moving out of the first quarter and into an uneventful second quarter during which neither team scored. Sedgwick’s pass to Seth Diorio ended an eight-play drive and tied the game 14-14 near the end of the third quarter. The Aggies surged ahead once again before the quarter ended.

Sedgwick’s third touchdown throw, this one to Vincent Lee, tied the game up again, only to see the opponents go back on top with under eight minutes left in the final quarter.  The final score, 28-21, was a disappointment for the Mustangs. Kevin Joppy carried the ball 19 times for 70 yards for Stevenson, and Lyles finished with nine catches for 107 yards, according to gomustangsports.com.

The Mustangs face FDU-Florham on Sept. 28 in a Middle Atlantic Conference game on the road.

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