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Courtesy: Monmouth University Photo


Courtesy: Monmouth Sports Information
Release: April 27, 2014
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West Long Branch, N.J.- The offense connected on two long scoring, while the defense forced four turnovers in the Annual Blue/White Spring Game held at Monmouth Stadium Sunday afternoon.

“Offensively and defensively we made a tremendous amount of progress during the spring, the players came out with a lot of excitement and energy but we are still not where we need to be yet,” said head coach Kevin Callahan. “I was happy with the explosiveness we were able to show on offense. We hit a couple of big pass plays, we have a talented receiving group and they have the ability to stretch the field. We have a number of guys on the defensive line that can make plays and you saw that today. It’s a position that is deep with a lot of game experience.”

The offense racked up 206 yards on the ground and 284 yards through the air. Leading the way was freshman Lavon Chaney (Edgewater, Md./South River) who averaged 5.2 yards a carry on 20 rushes for 103 yards. Neal Sterling (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) had five receptions for 88 yards with a long of 44 while freshman Romeo Harris (Odenton, Md./Arundel/Fork Union) led all receivers with three grabs for 96 yards, including a 70 yard touchdown.

Defensively, Eric Macik (Landisville, Pa./Hempfield) had five tackles, 2.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss while freshman safety Teddie Martinez (Baltimore, Md./Gilman School) had both interceptions, including a circus catch on his second pick of the day. Sophomore Ethan Gambale (Mays Landing, N.J./Holy Spirit) led the defensive squad, which had seven sacks, with eight tackles and a pass breakup.

The opening drive saw Greg DePugh (Morris Plains, N.J./Parsippany Hills) tuck and run the ball twice and hit Hakeem Valles (Sicklerville, Md./Peddie School) off the left side for a gain of eleven. The offense drove the ball inside the 25, but Jahmer Bunch (Shrewsbury, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) came across and blocked a 39 yard field goal attempt.

Sterling broke free over the middle on the next offensive possession, beating his man to make the catch and secure a 44 yard reception. After Pat O’Hara (Souderton, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) came in and picked up a sack, Darnell Leslie (Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard) made an outstanding play on a field goal attempt. On the 36 yard field goal try, Leslie blocked the ball, kicked it to himself, and caught it in the air, returning it 70 yards for a touchdown.

The first offensive score of the day came when Matt Choi (Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard) got past his man in the middle of the field and DePugh hit him in stride, racing all the way in on the first play of the drive for a 65 yard touchdown.

After the halftime break, Macik immediately went to work, picking up sacks on back-to-back plays. Macik recorded 2.5 sacks on the day and five tackles including three tackles for a loss. The offense responded one possession later, scoring for the second time on the afternoon. Harris went up and caught one and sprinted the rest of the way, going 70 yards into the end zone to convert DePugh’s second touchdown pass of the game.

DePugh led the offense into white territory with a 20 yard pass to Harris up the sideline. Two plays later running back Zach Welch (Middletown, Md./Middletown) shot through a hole inside the 25 and DePugh used his legs to get the ball down to the eight. On the next play, Martinez dove to intercept a pass that was high and behind him, ending the offensive drive.

Placekicker Lucas Santangelo (Jamaica Estates, N.Y./New Hyde Park) drilled a 55 yard field goal to wrap up the day.

Nest Notes:
-Defensive end Zak Irizarry had a pair of sacks in the scrimmage
-Freshman defensive back Kamau Dumas had two pass breakups and fielded punts during the scrimmage
-Notable players not participating were RB Kwabena Asante, TE Zach Fabel, WR Eric Sumlin, LB Dan Sullivan and CB Je’Vaughn Moore
-Linebackers Tyler Thompson and John Sieczkowski had seven tackles apiece
-Freshman defensive lineman DJ Martin had five tackles (1.5 TFL) and a sack

Callahan Quotes:

On Lavon Chaney’s emergence as the #2 back
“We knew Lavon was going to be a dynamic back last fall. He’s not very big in stature but he runs a lot harder than you think he may when you look at him. Our goal was to get him 20 carries today and he showed he can be a durable back and can get significant touches in a game.”

On the progression of the offensive line
We made steps in the right direction in each of the 15 practices this spring. They are a work in progress that continues to develop.  There are seven or eight guys we’ve played with in the first group and I don’t know if there is a clear cut decision on which combination of those guys are the best five. That is something we are going to continue to look at and that question may not be answered until August.

Linebacker Depth
I’d say right now Tyler Thompson is the number one linebacker at the middle position at least based on the 15 practices this spring. Beyond that things are really up in the air. The outside linebacker spot is far from settled but John Sieczkowski and Payton Minnich are starting to establish themselves as the number one guys there.

On Defensive back 2-deep
The safety position is wide open, we are really pressed to see which two guys are going to be the starters this fall. The corner opposite of Joe Johnson is one that is very much up in the air.

On the offense’s progression under new OC Kevin Morris
The spring practices have been trending upward from day one. We knew everything wasn’t going to be in and all the terminology mastered at the first practice but the offensive players have done a nice job picking up on it and I like the direction we are heading there.

On the depth of the defensive line
You saw Macik, Irizarry, Leslie and O’hara all come up and make plays today. If you have that type of depth and you can rotate and keep fresh bodies on the field it is going to be a great asset for the defense.
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