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Football Gameday Preview: Hawks host Rhode Island

Updated: September 06, 2012 - 4:35 p.m. (ET)
Monmouth Sports Information

University of Rhode Island (0-0, 0-0 CAA) at Monmouth University (0-1, 0-0 NEC)
Saturday, September 8, 2012; 1 p.m.
Kessler Field, West Long Branch, N.J.

Radio Coverage:

Shore Sports Network, WOBM 1160AM and1310AM, shoresportsnetwork.com
Matt Harmon (Play by Play); Eddy Occhipinti (Color Analyst)

Ticket Info:

For tickets call 732-263-6889 or visit www.gomuhawks.com for online sales
Day of game tickets can be purchased at the MAC's ticket window. 

Streaming Video Information:
Streaming video linked with the radio call and featuring graphics can be purchased on Hawk Vision, www.GoMUHawks.com/hawkvision

For More Information:

  Visit the full game preview on www.GoMUHawks.com

A look at the game:
Monmouth enters today's game with Rhode Island after nearly completing a comeback victory over No. 11 Lehigh last weekend in the 2012 season opener. Today's game will be the first of 2012 for Rhode Island, who is coming off a 3-8 season in 2011. Last year URI was 0-6 on the road and have lost seven straight road contests dating back to Oct. 30, 2010 (30-20 win at Towson).

                Someone will break a streak today, as Monmouth has dropped eight consecutive home games, with its last win at Kessler coming on Oct. 23, 2010 (vs Saint Francis). The Hawks had their five game road win streak snapped last weekend, falling to No. 11 Lehigh 27-17 in Bethlehem. MU started out sluggish, falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter but picked it up midway through the second. The first points of the season were scored on a one-yard Julian Hayes touchdown that cut the lead to seven. Lehigh was able to get a quick score right before the half on 25 yard touchdown pass but the MU defense dominated the final 30 minutes of play. Kyle Frazier tossed a 15 yard touchdown pass to Neal Sterling and junior kicker Eric Spillane nailed a 38 yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-17 in the fourth quarter. The Hawks had two chances to take the lead late in the fourth quarter but each time Lehigh forced turnovers to seal the win. Lehigh scored a touchdown on the final play of regulation when the Hawks fumbled a desperate lateral which was scooped up and returned for a TD. With the loss the Hawks are now 4-16 through the first 20 years of football in season openers.

                Rhode Island returns nine total starters from last year's team which faced seven ranked opponents not including Syracuse and tallied wins over Fordham, No. 13 Delaware and William & Mary. Junior quarterback Bob Bentsen split time last year but played in 10 of 11 games while he is also the team's top returning rusher as the Rams lost their top four running backs from a season ago. Fifth-year senior Brandon Johnson-Farrell was Rhody's top receiver a season ago (44 rec., 567 yards, 4 TDs) and the 5-10 speedster is also one of the top kick returners in the CAA. Linebacker is the strongest position on the URI defense with senior Doug Johnson and junior Dave Zocco back to anchor the front seven. Junior James Timmons is the team's third returning tackler from a season ago from his defensive end position. The Rams were chosen 10th in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason coaches poll.

The coaching matchup:

 Kevin Callahan is in his 20th season at Monmouth as the Hawks' head coach. Callahan owns a 109-87 career coaching record, all with Monmouth. Callahan is one of 23 head coaches in the FCS with over 100 career victories.  The only coach in Monmouth history, he has led the Blue & White to five Northeast 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.

 Joe Trainer, entering his fourth year as the head football coach at Rhode Island, has produced 15 All-CAA selections, 32 Academic All-CAA players, and an All-American in his first season, linebacker Rob Damon. In 2010, Trainer led the Rams to five wins, the most for the program since 2001. Three of those five wins came against opponents ranked in the Top 25, including the defending national champion, Villanova. Before accepting the head coach position in 2009, Trainer spent the 2008 campaign as the Rhode Island defensive coordinator. Prior to his days at URI, he spent three seasons as the head coach of Millersville University in Pennsylvania. He had spent the previous eight seasons at Villanova University, serving first as the linebackers coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator. His defenses in 2003 and 2004 led the Atlantic 10 conference in total defense.

Inside the MU-Rhode Island series:

Today marks the second time that Monmouth and Rhode Island have met, with the Rams taking the only matchup between the teams in the 2009 season opener on August 30. In that contest, the Hawks battled back from a 14 point first half deficit and trailed by 10 with just over three minutes remaining. Troy Yudin caught his first career touchdown and John Nalbone recovered the ensuing onside kick, only to see it negated on an illegal touching penalty, and URI prevailed, 27-24. MU quarterback Brett Burke threw for 180 yards and two scores, and David Sinisi rushed for 138 yards on 21 carries.

Monmouth Against the Colonial Athletic Association:

Monmouth University is 2-12 all-time against members of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Blue & White notched their first win over the CAA in 2009 against Old Dominion,  with its most recent win coming over Villanova in 2011. The Hawks picked up their first victory of 2011 at Villanova, in part due to a pair of goal line stands from the MU defense. Dan Sullivan led the Hawks with eight tackles, none bigger than the one he had early in the fourth to halt a Wildcat drive at the Monmouth one yard line.

Did You Know?

Through the first week of the season Monmouth's rush defense is ranked first in the Northeast Conference, allowing just 139 yards against Lehigh. On the flip side, Monmouth's rushing offense accumulated 182 yards last Saturday which is second in the league only to Albany's output of 315 yards.

Social Media Links:

   Follow the Hawks all season long on twitter (@MUHawksFB), Facebook (facebook.com/MUFootball) and on Monmouth's YouTube page (YouTube.com/monmouthhawks).

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