- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 26 October 2016
- Written by JOHN SORCE | SPORTS EDITOR
The University’s football team dropped two conference road games and fell to 4-4 (0-3 Big South) on the season. The Hawks fell to Presbyterian 17-13 on Oct. 13 in Clinton, SC and fell short to Liberty 52-28 on their Homecoming in front of 16,687 fans at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, VA.
Liberty wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as they drove down the field and found the end zone on the game’s first possession as freshman quarterback Stephen Calvert connected with senior wide receiver Dante’ Shells for a five-yard strike. MU fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Liberty recovered, but the Hawks’ defense stood on fourth down and kept them off the board.
But Liberty struck for a big 76-yard touchdown on their next possession as Calvert dumped a screen pass to junior running back Todd Macon who did the rest, increasing the Flames lead to 14-0.
“Liberty got off to a really fast start,” Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan said. “They jumped on us early and we found ourselves fighting from behind all the first half.”
Monmouth got on the board in the second when redshirt sophomore quarterback Cody Williams found a wide open senior wide receiver Darren Ambush down the sideline for a 45-yard score, cutting the deficit to 21-7 at that point. But Liberty went into halftime with a 31-7 lead.
The Flames came out of the locker room with another score, but the blue and white responded with three straight scoring drives to cut the Liberty lead to 38-28 during the early stages of the fourth quarter. Senior running back Zach Welch powered in for touchdowns of two yard and one yard on consecutive drives, then senior running back Lavon Chaney opened the fourth quarter with a 53-yard dash that netted him his second consecutive 100-yard day for the second time in his career.
“We started to get things going late in the third quarter, early in the fourth quarter, closing to with 10 points. I was happy with the way our guys continued to battle, but we gave ourselves too much to overcome and we weren’t able to do that against a good team like Liberty,” Callahan said.
But Liberty proved to be too much for Monmouth in the end as the Flames tacked on two more touchdowns en route to a 52-28 victory.
Ambush finished the day with seven receptions and 210 yards, becoming just the second Hawk to record a 200+ yard receiving day. The last time it was done was Oct. 8, 2005 vs Sacred Heart when Miles Austin, who did it twice in his career, racked up 235 yards. Ambush is now sixth all-time in school history in pass receptions with 108. Senior linebacker Brendan Wharton recorded a career-high 21 tackles, which is two shy of the Monmouth single game record.
The blue and white traveled to Clinton, SC for a Thursday night game against Presbyterian on Oct. 13. They fell to the Blue Hose 17-13. Chaney scored both touchdowns for the Hawks and finished the game with 154 yards on 23 carries. Three Hawks (junior safety Mike Basile, senior defensive lineman Darnell Leslie and senior linebacker Payton Minnich) recorded double-digit tackles.
“This was a game where we knew we needed to execute in all three phases of the game and quite honestly, we didn’t do that in order to win,” Callahan said. “Too many times we hurt ourselves with penalties that put us in some tough spots. We gave up some big plays on defense and were not able to generate anything consistently on offense.”
The Hawks return to the gridiron on Saturday for Homecoming day as they take on Kennesaw State in the final game at Kessler Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. and will air on ESPN3.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University Athletics