Football 11 28 2015

Football Trumps Blue Hose on Senior Day

In the final home game of the season, the Hawks defeated Presbyterian College 21-16 on Saturday afternoon on senior day in West Long Branch.

The Blue Hose got on the board first. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Cody Williams’ pass was intercepted and returned by Donelle Williams to the Monmouth 20 yard line. Freshman kicker Brett Norton converted a 34 yard field goal to give PC an early 7-0 lead.

Monmouth got on the board when Williams found freshman wide receiver Ugo Ezemma for a five yard touchdown pass to cap off a 13 play, 86 yard drive giving the Hawks a 7-3 lead with 4:06 remaining in the first half. But Presbyterian responded with a touchdown of their own; a one yard run by redshirt-freshman quarterback Ben Cheek and the score was 10-7 Blue Hose at halftime.

PC got the ball to begin the second half but turned it over when Cheek’s pass was intercepted by freshman wide receiver Tymere Berry, setting up the Hawks on offense at the Blue Hose 40 yard line. MU drove 40 yards on eight plays that ended in a 13 yard touchdown run by junior wide receiver Darren Ambush off a double reverse, putting the Hawks back on top, 14-10. The Hawks scored again on their next possession as Williams found sophomore wide receiver Reggie White Jr. for 11 yards in the corner of the end zone. The play was initially ruled out of bounds, but was overturned as the sophomore made an impressive catch while dealing with pass interference and staying in bounds to bring Monmouth’s lead to 21-10.

“I was just focused on making the catch,” White said. “I didn’t realize they threw the flag until after the play.”

The Blue Hose closed the gap in the fourth quarter as Cheek completed an 18 yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver DaShawn Davis, but the two point conversion attempt failed and the score was 21-16. PC chose not to go for an onside kick with 5:14 remaining and got the ball back after Monmouth went three and out with 1:54 left to score. But the Hawks defense came up big with two sacks on the final drive. Fifth year senior defensive lineman Andrew Jurczynski sacked Cheek on third down which was followed up by junior defensive lineman Eli Brown and freshman linebacker Tre Nelson combining for the stop on fourth down, sealing the victory for the Hawks.

Jurczynski spoke after the game about what that final stop meant as a defensive unit.

“It was extremely big. I got the sack but we had been playing good defense all day. To finish the game off strong like that was amazing to get this win.”

Sophomore defensive back Mike Basile, who recorded 12 tackles on the day bringing his season total to 109, also spoke about the team’s final drive.

“Coach put us in a good position to make plays. He gave us the coverages and we just had to go out there and execute. We had to get off the field to win this game.”

“What you saw today was a complete team effort and a team win,” Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan said. “We were happy to get our second conference win and our goal is to go out next week and finish .500 in the Big South.”

Williams finished the day 15-25 for 144 yards, two touchdowns and an interception earning him Crons Brand Freshman of the Week for the Big South, his second weekly honor of the campaign. The Hawks outgained PC 352-185 on offense and picked up 208 of those yards on the ground. Junior running back Zach Welch led the ground attack as he gained 81 yards on 10 carries. Junior running back Lavon Chaney ran for 57 yards on 23 carries and Williams ran for 38 yards on seven carries. White Jr. led MU receivers by catching four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. The Hawks defense had five sacks with Jurczynski picking up two of them.

Monmouth improved to 4-6 (2-3) on the season. They finished 1-4 in the Big South a season ago and they have a chance to finish .500 in their second season in the conference when they wrap up the 2015 season on Saturday in Boiling Springs, NC as they take on the Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb (4-6, 2-3). Kickoff from Spangler Stadium will be at 1:30 p.m.

PHOTO COURTESY of Taylor Jackson