- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 21 September 2016
- Written by JOHN SORCE | SPORTS EDITOR
There was plenty of build-up in the days prior to Monmouth’s match-up with the Kent State Golden Flashes of the Mid-American Conference in the program’s second game against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent in as many years.
But the gap between FBS and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) football was evident in the Hawks’ 27-7 defeat at the hands of Kent State, their first of the season.
“I thought our players played hard. We were able to get them in third down situations on defense, but were unable to get off the field,” Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan said.
Kent State redshirt freshman quarterback Mylik Mitchell proved to be too much for the Monmouth defense as a dual threat. He finished 14-18 for 106 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but also ran for an additional 77 yards on 14 carries.
“Their quarterback hurt us in the first half, pulling the ball down and running on pass plays. We weren’t as effective with our pressures as we needed to be. Our defense was on the field a lot in the first half and we never had the time to catch our breath, so to speak. Once we got into a situation where we had to throw the ball, they were able to just lay back and come after us and it was difficult to do anything from a protection standpoint,” Callahan said.
Monmouth did not get on the scoreboard until late in the fourth quarter, when senior running back Zach Welch scored a two-yard touchdown off of a pass interference call on the Golden Flashes, which set up Monmouth for the score.
“We went into the game saying Kenji was going to play. It wasn’t a specific amount of series, but we wanted to get him the ball, especially today where we had difficulty developing any continuity on offense,” Callahan said. “We were trying a number of different things to give us a spark.”
Monmouth was overmatched from the get-go, as Kent State held the MU offense to just one yard in the first quarter. But the blue and white held Kent to just a field goal in the first quarter and trailed 13-0 at halftime, staying within striking distance.
Both teams stayed off the scoreboard for the first nine minutes of the second half, but Mitchell threw his first of two touchdowns to junior running back/wide receiver Nick Holley, extending their lead to 20-0 with 5:53 in the third quarter.
Welch got the Hawks on the board in the fourth quarter, but Bahar threw an interception on the Hawks’ ensuing drive, setting the Golden Flashes up in great field position at the MU 31-yard line. Three plays later, Mitchell found Holley again for a 28-yard strike, all but sealing the deal for Kent State with 2:34 to play.
Williams finished 7-15 for 59 yards while Bahar completed 12 out of 20 passes for 73 yards and an interception. Welch finished the day with 51 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, while sophomore wide receiver Reggie White Jr. hauled in seven passes for 56 yards. Senior wide receiver Darren Ambush had five receptions for 54 yards and moved into 10th all-time in receptions with 86, passing former Hawk running back David Sinisi. Junior safety Mike Basile recorded 16 tackles on the day, earning Big South Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Monmouth will look ahead to their home opener and beginning of Big South conference play against Charleston Southern (1-2) on Saturday. Kickoff from Kessler Field is slated for 1 p.m. and will air on ESPN3. This will be the first of only three home contests for the Hawks this year as construction of Monmouth Stadium continues behind the current stadium.
PHOTO COURTESY of David Derme