Hawks Use Fast Start to Down Wagner, 23-6

All it took was five plays for the Hawks football team to take a two score lead. With the fast start, the defense ratcheted the pressure and shut down the Wagner Seahawks en route to a 23-6 MU victory. The win brings the Hawks record to an even 5-5, while Wagner falls to 2-8 this season.

“Our objective today was to get off to a fast start and, we planned all week to run a reverse on the opening kickoff if we were to receive,” said head coach Kevin Callahan. “That jumpstarted us and gave us great starting field position. The offense then took the field and put that ball in the end-zone. From the point on our defense played outstanding football. They did a good job on third down, kept Wagner out of the end-zone, and forced turnovers. Offensively we sputtered a bit in the second and third quarters but then got some things going again in the fourth quarter.”

MU jumped to a two touchdown lead being guided by the churning legs of junior running back Julian Hayes while the defense held Wagner to two field goals and an abysmal 3-of-17 on third down. With the win, MU takes an 11-10 edge in the all-time series, including an 8-3 mark in Staten Island.

The blue and white opened the game with some fireworks, a big reverse on the opening kickoff. Freshman running back Lavon Chaney took the kickoff, then handed it to fellow freshman wide receiver Darren Ambush who took the ball up the right side for 56-yards out to the Wagner 30-yard-line. Two plays later, the Hawks went up 6-0 on a 29-yard touchdown run from Hayes. Wagner countered with a good kickoff return of their own and worked its way down to the MU’s 31-yard-line, but junior lineman Andrew Jurczynski batted the ball away on fourth down and the Hawks took over.

The next play was a career-long 65 yard one-handed catch by fifth year senior tight end Mike McLafferty off a pass that got the Hawks to Wagner’s 5-yard-line. Two plays later, Hayes walked into the end-zone for his second touchdown of the day, putting the Hawks up 13-0 with 9:37 to play in the first quarter.

Wagner got on the board with 30 seconds remaining in the first half via a 37-yard field goal set up by a blocked punt to head into halftime with a score of 13-3.

Senior kicker Eric Spillane got the scoring started in the second half when he hit a 31-yard field goal that put the Hawks ahead, 16-3, with 9:42 to play in the third quarter. Two drives later, Wagner closed the gap to 10 on a 21-yard field goal from David Lopez with 2:43 left in the quarter.

MU put the game out of reach midway through the fourth quarter after a fair catch on a punt was dropped by Wagner’s Andre Yevchinecz, and was recovered by fifth year senior linebacker Dave Damirgian at the Wagner 36-yard-line.

A couple of runs by senior running back KB Asante set up a first down from the Wagner 13-yard-line, where junior quarterback Brandon Hill found a wide open fifth year senior receiver Elijah Phillips in the back of the end-zone to go up 23-6, which would wind up being the final score.

The Hawks held the ball for 33:30 compared to Wagner’s 26:30 time of possession, and outgained the Seahawks 336-252. Jurczynski finished with a career-high seven tackles, and added one sack. Redshirt freshman Darnell Leslie finished with three tackles, including 2.5 sacks from his defensive end position.

Offensively, Hayes finished with 21-carries for 87-yards with the pair of scores, while Asante finished with 19-carries for 65-yards. Hill was 12-for-20 for 190-yards and a touchdown, while tight end Mike McLafferty had a career high of four catches for 119-yards. MU’s linebacking trio of fifth year senior Gary Onuekwusi, senior John Sieczkowski, and Damirgian led the defense with nine, eight and eight tackles respectively.

The Hawks will resume play this weekend when they travel to Rhode Island to battle against the Bulldogs of Bryant University. Kickoff for the game is set for noon.