WORCESTER, Mass.- Monmouth University (1-3) dominated the first 55 minutes of the game, building a 21-0 lead over that time en route to its first win of the 2013 season over the College of the Holy Cross.
For the second consecutive week Monmouth junior running backs K.B. Asante (Silver Spring, Md./James Hubert Blake/WVU) and Julian Hayes (Middletown, Conn./Xavier/The Hun School) eclipsed the 100-yard plateau, with Asante rushing for 118 and Hayes picking up 132. Quarterback Brandon Hill (Audubon, N.J./Audubon/UMass) was 12-of-22 for 139 yards and touchdown pass. Lamar Davenport (Asbury Park, N.J./Asbury Park) led the Hawk wideouts with 42 yards on three passes, including a second quarter TD.
“I thought it was a dominant performance on both sides of the ball, I was very happy with the way we played,” said head coach Kevin Callahan. “This was a team that ran for 420 yards last week and they finished with 55 yards on 25 or so attempts.They never really got anything going until late in the fourth quarter. I thought we played dominant defensively. At halftime we challenged our offense to run the ball with more consistency. We were able to find our rhythm there, I thought the telling drive of the game came after Tevrin’s interception. We put together a 97 yard drive and there were 12 or 13 runs in there, I felt that really demoralized them. We made some adjustments The big plays that we gave up the first few weeks of the season, we eliminated today.
Monmouth held a 363-246 advantage in yards, including a 224-55 margin on the ground. MU also held a 37:35-22:25 advantage in time of possession while converting 10-of-19 on third down compared to Holy Cross’ 6-of-17 effort. The game was the third-ever night game at Holy Cross, which falls to 1-3 on the season and 0-3 in home night contests.
Each team punted away their possessions in the first quarter with Monmouth getting the ball deep in Holy Cross territory after Pat O’Hara (Souderton, Pa./Landsdale Catholic) recovered a fumble on the Crusader 26. The Hawks drove the ball down to the one yard line but Asante fumbled and the Crusaders recovered to keep the game scoreless.
The Hawks marched 84 yards on 12 plays to take the lead in a drive that covered almost all of the final seven minutes of the first half. With 46 second remaining on the clock Hill found Davenport for a 12 yard touchdown to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead going into the break.
Holy Cross quarterbacks Steven Elder and Ryan Laughlin were seven of 14 for 62 yards in the first half while the Crusader rushing attack that put up 419 yards on Central Connecticut State a week early could muster a mere 23 yards after 30 minutes of play. At halftime, MU had outgained Holy Cross by a 203-85 margin.
On Monmouth’s second drive of the third quarter, the Hawks went 67 yards on seven plays to take a 14-0 lead on a 12 yard Hayes touchdown run. On that drive Hill started it off with a 14 yard strike to Davenport, followed up with Hayes going 21 yards on three consecutive carries. After Asante carried for eight, Hill found a sure handed Thaddeus Richards (Columbus, N.J./North Burlington) for 12 yard on the Holy Cross 12. Hayes scored his third touchdown of the season on the next play and the Hawks led by 15.
The Crusaders, led by freshman Peter Pujals started a drive, moving into MU territory but Tevrin Brandon (Bethlehem, Pa./Bethlehem Catholic/UConn) recorded his second interception of the season taking the ball away on the Hawk three yard line.
Brandon’s interception set up Monmouth’s final scoring drive, which was another dominating performance by the offense, this time going 97 yards on 15 plays and eating up the first 8:52 of the fourth quarter. Asante went over 100 yards on a seven yard jaunt while two plays later he reached the endzone on a hard fought 14 yard run up the middle.
Pujals led a late drive against the Hawks, connecting with Mike Fess for a 15 yard touchdown with 4:25 to play in the contest. The Crusaders gained 70 total yards on that drive, their longest of the evening.
Holy Cross had one more shot at getting points with under three to play, moving the ball down the field in just over a minute. After Pujals hit Stanley for 15 yards down the MU 16, the freshman rolled away from pressure and found Elad Covaliu who sprinted for the pylon to cut the lead to seven with 1:23. Up 21-14, Monmouth recovered the ensuing onsides kick and was able to take a knee for the win.
Linebacker Dave Damirgian (Churchville, Pa./Council Rock) had six tackles and a sack while Clark Coe (Hoboken, N.J./Carteret) also had six stops. Holy Cross’ Roman Sandoval had 11 tackles to lead all defensive players. Pujals was 12-of-19 for 129 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Crusaders with 22 yards rushing.
Monmouth faces Columbia next week in New York on Saturday, September 28 at 1 p.m.