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TEAM EFFORT LEADS MONMOUTH PAST VILLANOVA, 20-9

Updated: September 18, 2011 - 09:31 a.m. (ET)
Monmouth Sports Information
VILLANOVA, Pa.- The Monmouth football team (1-1) got its first win of the season over Colonial Athletic Association opponent Villanova (0-3) in front of 11,817 fans Saturday afternoon at Villanova.

Down 10-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, Villanova had two tries to get in the endzone from the Monmouth one but were denied each time.  On fourth and goal from the one, sophomore linebacker Dan Sullivan (Manasquan, N.J./Manasquan) dropped Nova's running back for a two yard loss, giving the Hawks the ball and the momentum.

Monmouth then went 79 yards on seven plays and converted a 36 yard Eric Spillane (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) field goal to take a 13-7 lead.  Villanova's final points came when the Hawks elected to take a safety on fourth down from their own goal line rather than risk a blocked punt and get better field position for the defense, which held 'Nova out of the endzone the rest of the way.  Senior running back Balial Sloan El (Pennsauken, N.J./Roman Catholic Pa.) put the game out of reach with a 44 yard touchdown run up the middle with 30 seconds remaining in the game.

"I am really happy and excited the way our kids competed and continued to play hard," said MU head coach Kevin Callahan.  "There were a number of times in the game that they demonstrated such control and poise and just maintained their concentration on what they had to do. It was a physicall game out here I thought our players battled the entire game from start to finish and  when things got tight we found ways to come up with big plays.  I couldn't be happier for them."

The Monmouth defense, led by Sullivan's eight tackles, held Villanova's offense to 16 yards in the first quarter and 100 total yards in the first half.  The key play of the half came with 25 seconds remaining, with quarterback Christian Culicerto hitting wideout Dorian Wells for what seemed to be a easy 49 yard touchdown.  Senior safety Jose Gumbs (Queens, N.Y./Hebron Academy) chased down wells and punched the ball out around the MU five yard line.  The ball scooted into the endzone where Wells recovered it but he was called out of bounds, resulting in a touchback for the Hawks.

With just under 13 minutes remaining in the second quarter, MU used a 19-yard third down reception by Neal Sterling (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) to set up a first down on the Villanova 22.  After a sack and a personal foul penalty pushed the offense back, the Hawks got into field goal range with a 20 yard strike from Frazier to Tyler George (Berkeley Heights, N.J./Gov. Livingston).  That set up the only scoring of the first half, a 32 yard successful field goal by Spillane that gave MU a 3-0 lead with 9:16 to play in the second quarter.

Villanova took its only lead of the game the first drive of the second half, scoring on a 36 yard Austin Medley touchdown run.   The key play of the drive came up on a third and 12 Culicerto scrambled up the middle for a 13 yard gain and a first down.  On the very next play Medley went to the house capping a 10-play 83 yard drive that used 3:55 off the clock.

The lead didn't last long as Monmouth answered with a 11-play 76 yard drive that ended with junior Tristan Roberts' (Ansonia, Conn./Lakawanna CC) first TD as a Hawk to put the Blue & White up 10-7 with 4:19 to play in the third quarter.

Villanova got a big kickoff return to set up their next drive, which continued down to the Hawk one yardline .  On third and goal Culicerto was stopped short on a keeper and on fourth down running back Lawrence Doss was dropped by Dan Sullivan.  Taking over deep in their own territory, freshman Julian Hayes (Middletown, Conn./The Hun School) ran the ball on consecutive plays out to the MU 14.  Two plays later MU quarterback Kyle Frazier (Gaithersburg, Md./Damascus) connected with Mitchell Pollard (Silver Spring, Md./Springbrook) for a 62 yard pass.  The reception was the longest of the sophomore's career and put him over the 100-yard plateau for the first time as a Hawk.  Monmouth couldn't convert it to a TD but Spillane hit his second field goal of the game, to put MU up 13-7.

The win was the program's first over a current CAA team and snapped a two-plus year non-conference losing streak.  Frazier finished 17-of-30 for 220 yards and a touchdown.  Pollard, who finished with 118 yards on seven receptions, became the first Monmouth wideout to record a 100-yard receiving game since Ron Lauch against Sacred Heart in 2009.  Sterling finished with a career-high five catches for 69 yards while George had two grabs for 21.  Sloan El led the MU rushing attack with 76 yards on 13 carries, including the 44 yard TD scamper.  Hayes averaged 6.1 yards per rush, finishing with nine carries for 55 yards.

The Hawk defense allowed just 301 yards of total offense and sacked the two 'Nova signal callers three times.  Sullivan had one of those sacks as part of his four tackle-for-a-loss afternoon.  Senior Ian Simon (West Windsor, N.J./West Windsor Plainsboro/Howard) had two sacks as the MU defense had nine tackles-for-a-loss in the contest.  Freshman Freshman Pat Gray (Westfield, N.J./Westfield/Hargrave Military Academy) got his first career interception while Gumbs grabbed an interception on a late Hail Mary attempt by Villanova.
 
Villanova's two QB's went 13-of-32 with two interceptions for 195 yards.  Medley led the ground game for the Wildcats with 53 yards on seven rushes.

The Hawks will face preseason NEC favorite Central Connecticut State next weekend at Arute Field at 12 p.m.

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