Monmouth University (5-5) at Bryant (4-6, 2-3 Northeast Conference)
Saturday, November 16, 2013; 12:00 p.m.
Bulldog Stadium (4.400), Smithfield, R.I.
Radio Coverage: Shore Sports Network, WOBM 1160AM and 1310AM, shoresportsnetwork.com
Matt Harmon (Play by Play); Eddy Occhipinti (Color Analyst)
For tickets call 401-319-TIXX (8499) or visit HERE for more information.
Directions to Bulldog Stadium:
For Directions to Bulldog Stadium visit HERE
The game can be viewed for free online on NEC Front Row
**A full game preview is available at www.GoMUHawks.com**
A LOOK AT THE GAME:
Today’s game features two teams that are looking to close out their respective seasons at or above .500. Monmouth has a 5-5 record after beating Wagner 23-7 last weekend in Staten Island, while Bryant enters at 4-6, having dropped two games in a row. Today marks the sixth meeting all-time between the two schools, with MU holding a 4-1 record against the Bulldogs. The teams have squared off every year since 2008, with Bryant’s first win over Monmouth coming last season, 27-24.
Monmouth is coming off a 17 point win over Wagner to move back to the .500 mark at 5-5. After opening the game on a reverse on the opening kickoff between freshmen Lavon Chaney and Darren Ambush for 70 yards, MU took a 6-0 lead just 1:04 into the game on a Julian Hayes 29 yard TD burst. Hayes would find the end zone again on the next Hawks possession, putting the Blue and White up two scores less than five minutes into the game. The MU defense held Wagner running back Dominique Willians to 72 yards on the day, well under his 106.7 yards per game average this season. Darnell Leslie recorded 2.5 sacks and Jack Eisenstadt had a strip sack as Wagner only mustered six points on the afternoon. Wagner was just 3-for-17 on third down. Tight end Mike McLafferty caught four passes for a career-high 119 yards.
Bryant brings a 4-6 record into today’s game after losing 23-20 at home last weekend to Saint Francis in a game in which the Red Flash led 23-7 before the Bulldogs mounted a fourth quarter comeback that fell just short. The Bulldogs feature one of the best wide receivers in the country in Jordan Harris, who has caught 54 passes for 907 yards and four scores this season. Last season, Harris became the first player in the NEC to register 1,000 yards receiving since Miles Austin did it for Monmouth in 2005. Quarterback Mike Westerhaus has completed just 49% of his passes this season, and has thrown 12 touchdowns next to 11 interceptions. The Bulldogs rushing game has seen four running backs carry the ball at least 70 times each, with Michael Perry the only one of the four to record a touch in every game this season.
THE COACHING MATCHUP:
Kevin Callahan is in his 21st season at Monmouth as the Hawks’ head coach. Callahan owns a 119-96 career coaching record, all with Monmouth. Callahan is one of 21 active head coaches in the FCS with over 100 career victories and his 119 victories ranks 15th among active FCS coaches. The only coach in Monmouth history, he has led the Blue & White to five conference championships, in 1996, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Callahan has earned NEC Coach of the Year accolades in 1998, 2003 and 2006. Prior to arriving in West Long Branch, Callahan served as defensive coordinator at Colgate for eight seasons and at Wagner for three years. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Albany (1977-79) and Syracuse (1980) before becoming a Seahawk assistant in 1981.
Bryant is headed up by 10-year head coach Marty Fine who owns an overall record of 61-45. In 2008, Bryant’s first season as a FCS transitioning team, Fine’s squad compiled a 7-4 record and earned wins over four NEC schools. Last season they were 4-4 in league play. He earned Northeast-10 Coach of the Year in 2007 and has led the Bulldogs to a pair of Northeast-10 Conference Championships and two NCAA Division II playoff berths. Before coming to Smithfield, Fine coached at Iowa State, Indiana, Colgate and a number of other stops. Fine was a linebacker at Union College in New York before graduating from Western New Mexico in 1985.
INSIDE THE MU-BRYANT SERIES:
Today marks the sixth time that Monmouth and Bryant have met on the gridiron, with MU winning the first four matchups and Bryant winning last season. Last year in West Long Branch, Bryant jumped out to a 14-3 lead and led 21-10 midway through the third before MU stormed back. Nine yard touchdown runs from K.B. Asante and Kyle Frazier put the Hawks in front 24-21 with 8:23 remaining. Bryant took the lead back on a Jordan Brown score with 2:19 to go but missed the PAT. A frantic final drive saw Tristan Roberts outjump Bryant defenders to make a fourth down catch, but MU ‘s drive stalled at the Bryant 40. In 2011 in Smithfield, the Hawks defense had to stop a late surge from the Bulldogs, who had a fourth and one from the MU six with 1:09 to play. Safety Jose Gumbs tipped away a screen pass intended for Jordan Harris and Monmouth left with the 40-35 victory. Neal Sterling had his first career 100-yard game while Julian Hayes recorded three touchdowns on the day. QB Kyle Frazier went down in the second quarter with a season-ending knee injury but Craig Peterson secured the victory going 7-of-11 with a TD to Sterling.
HAWKS TO JOIN THE BIG SOUTH IN 2014
In February of 2013 Monmouth University officially accepted a invitation to join the Big South Conference as an associate member in the sport of football. With most of the Big South schedule already set, the Hawks were forced to play an independent schedule for the first time since 1995. The Hawks signed a four-year deal with the Big South and will compete for the league’s auto bid to the FCS Playoffs with Liberty, Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern, Presbyterian and Gardner Webb, beginning in 2014.
SETTING A RECORD FOR TIGHT ENDS
Fifth year senior tight end Mike McLafferty caught four passes for 119 yards, the most receiving yards a Monmouth tight end has ever recorded in a game. It was also a career-high for McLafferty, who made a one handed catch and raced all the way inside the Wagner five yard line for a 65 yard gain to set up Julian Hayes’ second touchdown of the quarter. Three of his four receptions went for first downs, including a 36 yard catch down the sideline in the third quarter.
LESLIE GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK
Redshirt freshman defensive end Darnell Leslie has recorded seven sacks this season so far, the most for a Monmouth defender since 2003 when Mike DeFalco recorded nine, Erik Yngstrom had eight and Sean Hefferon notched 7.5. Leslie leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss with 12. He padded his total with 2.5 more sacks against Wagner a week ago. Leslie this season has added an interception (at Columbia), two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a blocked kick.
DID YOU KNOW?
Monmouth’s offense and defense have dominated the second half of games in 2013, outscoring opponents 159 to 69 after halftime. The fourth quarter has completely been all Hawks as MU has outscored opponents 100-35. Opponents have had the upper hand in the second quarter, 81-37.
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