NEW YORK- Monmouth University’s football team (2-3) cruised past Columbia (0-2) by a score of 37-14 in the first meeting between the two schools on Saturday afternoon.
For the third consecutive week, the Hawk running back tandem of Kwabena Asante (Silver Spring, Md./James Herbert Blake/WVU) and Julian Hayes (Middletown, Conn./Xavier/The Hun School) went over 100 yards rushing each. Asante averaged 8.8 yards per carry going for career-high 132 yards on 15 carries. Hayes eclipsed the 100-yard plateau for the fourth time in 2013, carrying the ball a season-high 33 times for 123 yards.
“I thought it was a fairly complete performance by us, I thought both sides of the ball played well,” said Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “We didn’t take advantage of some opportunities as an offense, I thought we started off slow on offense. At the half I talked to our guys about taking advantage of the opportunities we are getting and I thought we really did that in the second half. The defense did a nice job of creating positive field position for our offense and it was just a matter of taking advantage of it at that point”
The defense suffocated the Lions, with six sacks and three turnovers. Defensive end Pat O’Hara () had five tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He was bookended by redshirt freshman end Darnell Leslie (Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard) who had four tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.
After falling behind early in the first quarter, the rest of the game was all Monmouth, who out-gained the Lions 461-226. Junior quarterback Brandon Hill (Audubon, N.J./Audubon/UMass) was 17-of-37 for 214 yards with a touchdown strike to Lamar Davenport (Asbury Park, N.J./Asbury Park) early in the fourth quarter. MU, which tied a school record with 93 offensive plays, held possession of the ball for 38 minutes, including almost 11 minutes of the fourth quarter. The Hawksdefense was impressive on third down, forcing Columbia into a 0-for-12 effort.
On the opening possession of the game, Monmouth went 48 yards in 14 plays which culminated in an Eric Spillane 46 yard FG, tying a career long. Spillane would go on to convert two more kicks, of 39 and 29 yards.
On Columbia’s second play from scrimmage, All-Ivy running back Marcorus Garrett took a carry out left and scored from 41 yards out to give the Lions a 7-3 advantage with 8:27 left in the first quarter.
Monmouth retook the lead, this time for good, with six seconds remaining in the first half. Wide receiver Thaddeus Richards (Columbus, N.J./Northern Burlington) took a pitch from Hayes around left end on a reverse and scored his first career touchdown to give MU a 10-7 lead.
Despite only leading by six at the break, MU’s offense outpaced Columbia 235-81, with 41 of Columbia’s yards coming on the Garrett TD. The Hawks ran 53 plays in the first half, compared to just 22 for the Lions.
The Hawks forced a three-and-out on the first possession of the third quarter, which was set up by a 10-yard sack by O’Hara on third down. On the ensuing drive, Monmouth marched right down the field, going up 20-7 on a 17 yard Hayes scamper around the right side to cap a five-play, 55 yard drive.
Columbia drove 80 yards on four plays and cut the lead to 20-14 with a nine-yard Garrett run with 5:04 to play in the contest. Columbia forced a punt on the next MU drive but O’Hara struck again, sacking Lion quarterback Trevor McDonagh and stripping the ball where it was recovered by Leslie on the 12. Three plays later Spillane nailed a 29 yarder to push the Hawk lead to 23-14.
Asante took over the first drive in the fourth quarter, bursting through the middle of the field for 35 yards on a second and 12. After Hayes came in to move the chaines with four straight rushes, Hayes hit for nine and six down to the Columbia 14. Two plays later Hill connected with Davenport to put MU up 30-14 with 10:05 to play.
Asante finished the scoring for the Hawks, scoring from 13 yards out with 2:47 to give Monmouth its first win over an Ivy League Opponent.
Junior Neal Sterling (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) led all MU receivers with five catches for 62 yards. Freshman tight end Zach Fabel (Brigantine, N.J./Holy Spirit) had a career-high four catches for 49 yards, also a career mark. Davenport had three catches for 25 yards, including the touchdown. Asante led the Hawks in all-purpose yards with 149, adding 17 yards receiving to his numbers.
Defensively, linebacker Dave Damirgian (Churchville, Pa./Council Rock) led the way with six tackles, including two for a loss and a sack. Fellow LB Gary Onuekwusi (Baltimore, Md./Dunbar/Temple) also had six tackles and a pass break up. All told, Monmouth had seven pass breakups on the day.
Columbia quarterback Trevor McDonagh was 11-of-33 passing for 108 yards. Garrett led all rushers with 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 16 carries for a 9.5 average. Lion linebacker Vinny Puglielse led all defensive players with 13 tackles, including a sack and two TFLs in the game. Junior Chad Washington also added 11 tackles from his defensive end position.
Monmouth returns home next weekend when they host Robert Morris on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Callahan on the improvement of the run game as the game went on:
“There’s still a lot of room for improvement, we were very inconsistent in the first half and I credit their defensive line. I think we started to wear them down after a while and that goes into having two backs. We can always throw a fresh guy at them. I think you saw we started to get the upper hand physically in the second half a little bit.”
-Monmouth is now 1-0 against Columbia and 1-1 all-time against the Ivy League
-93 offensive plays run ties a school record with a 1993 game against St. Peter’s (the program’s first win)
-Monmouth has now had two backs go over 100 yards on three consecutive weeks; it had only been done four times prior to this season.
-Julian Hayes jumped past Joe Migliore for fifth all-time in rushing yards with his 123 yard performance. Hayes, who has 2,006 yards became Monmouth’s fifth back to eclipse the 2,000 yard plateau
-The Monmouth defense has now recorded nine of its 10 sacks over the last two weeks- both MU wins
-The MU offense did not commit a turnover for the first time in 2013
- With his five reception day, junior Neal Sterling passed former Hawk great Will Holder for fourth all-time in pass receptions with 116. Sterling needs just five to tie former tight end Tyler George for third all-time.
-Coming into this season junior Julian Hayes had five career 100-yard rushing games, which was fifth all-time. With his four 100+ yard games in 2013, he now has nine, which is second all-time behind David Sinisi’s 25.
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