WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Senior Devonte Williams rushed for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns and sophomore Dontea Ayres rushed for three scores as No. 12/14 Stevenson University posted a 41-20 victory over King's (Pa.) College in Middle Atlantic Conference football Saturday afternoon at McCarthy Stadium.
With the win, the Mustangs (8-0, 7-0 MAC) extended their win streak dating back to last season to 10 games and their road win streak to six straight. The current 10-game win streak is tied for third-longest in Division III. Stevenson, which is ranked No. 12 in the AFCA Division III poll and No. 14 in the D3football.com Top25, needs just one win in its final two games to sew up the MAC title and accompanying NCAA bid. The Mustangs host Wilkes at Mustang Stadium (1:00 pm) next Saturday before traveling to Lycoming on November 12.
King's (4-4, 4-3 MAC) saw a two-game win streak snapped and likely saw any chance of a Centennial-MAC Bowl Series berth fall by the wayside.
Stevenson scored on its first four possessions of the game as it built a 27-7 lead. After King's went three-and-out on the game's opening drive, a rugby-style punt by Eric Haenggi was blocked by Devonte Williams and recovered by the Mustangs at the Monarchs' 8. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Ayres punched it in with 12:14 on the clock to give the guests an early 7-0 lead.
King's answered with an 11-play, 63-yard drive capped by a 21-yard touchdown reception by Marquis Miller from Zach Whitehead with 8:00 left in the first to tie the game 7-7. The Mustangs went up 14-7 when Devonte Williams ran 32 yards for a score with 3:27 to go, finishing off a nine-play, 73-yard drive that chewed up 4:33.
Ayres' second touchdown came 30 seconds into the second as his two-yard run made it 21-7. The score was set up by a 34-yard completion from junior Dan Williams to junior Preston Addo to get it down to the Monarch 2. Following a three-and-out by the hosts, a 64-yard drive that utilized just over five minutes was capped by a three-yard Ayres scamper.
On King's next drive, which started on their own 34, a 41-yard completion from Whitehead to Miller put the Monarchs on the Stevenson 3 with first-and-goal. After a two-yard run on first down, the next two rushes went nowhere, and on fourth down, a pass into the end zone was broken up by senior Austin Tennessee with 3:45 left in the second to keep the hosts off the board.
The third quarter was scoreless until King's went 60 yards in nine plays and 3:03, with Whitehead converting on fourth-and-9 from the Stevenson 36 with a touchdown pass to Tyler Marroni to make it 27-14.
Stevenson answered with a 10-play, 52-yard drive that was aided by two King's unsportsmanlike penalties on one play to make it 30-14 on a 30-yard field goal by senior Tim Sternfeld with 14:42 to go in the fourth.
Starting on its own 21, King's was near midfield on first-and-10 when Whitehead forced a throw under pressure and his pass on the line of scrimmage was picked off by sophomore Brendan Flaherty, giving the Mustang defense a takeaway for the 41st straight game and an interception for the 23rd game in a row. It marked Flaherty's first career interception.
Stevenson needed just two plays to make it 38-14, as Devonte Williams runs of nine and 32 yards gave him his second touchdown of the game. The Mustangs used a fake PAT try and sophomore Steve Shanley passed to classmate JT Arias in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
King's scored a touchdown with 7:32 left to make it 38-20, but looking to again make it a two-score game, did not convert on the two-point try as Whitehead's rush was stopped just shy of the goal line. A 22-yard field goal by Sternfeld with 39 seconds left closed out the scoring.
Stevenson outgained King's 412-386, including a 270 yards on the ground, its second-highest total of the season. Besides Devonte Williams, Ayres carried 12 times for 56 yards. Dan Williams was 19-28 passing for 142 yards, with junior Devin Salisbury catching eight balls for 60 yards and Addo making five catches. The Mustangs did not have a turnover for the second time this season, and held the ball over 34 minutes for the second straight week, winning the time of possession battle 34:25-25:35.
Sophomore Ashton Leschke led Stevenson with 10 tackles (five solo) and a pair of pass breakups. Tennessee totaled eight tackles (seven solo) and a breakup, while junior Mike Datu added eight tackles. Sophomore Izaiha Pitts registered six tackles and a forced fumble that was recovered by the Monarchs.
Whitehead finished 29-45 passing for 329 yards and three scores. Mike Palmer, who had King's last TD grab, finished with seven catches.