12th ranked Monmouth football clinched their first ever Big South conference title and a spot in the playoffs after defeating Campbell on the road in North Carolina 47-10 behind a career-best day from junior running back and Big South Offensive Player of the Week Pete Guerriero.
Guerriero rushed for a career-high 237 yards while scoring three touchdowns on the ground and added 66 more yards through the air including a 50-yard screen pass for a score to make it four total touchdowns on the day. The standout back’s 303 total yards came just four yards shy of breaking the Monmouth program record for all-purpose yards in a single game.
“It was one of those days where big time players make big time plays, as an offensive unit we were able to step up as a team and get this win,” said Guerriero. “The entire line is strong up front, and they work hard each and every day and that’s what has gotten us to this point. They are the heart of this offense. As the season goes on, they just keep getting stronger and stronger.”
The now three-time Big South Offensive Player of the Week this season, leads the conference in all-purpose yards, rushing yards and rushing yards per game with his 12 rushing touchdowns being second most in the league.
The Hawks have now represented the Big South Offensive Player of the Week in five consecutive weeks while the offense continues to roll led by fifth-year quarterback Kenji Bahar climbing all the way up to 12th in the most recent American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Poll.
Bahar had a quieter day than normal but still contributed two passing touchdowns of his own on 11 of 20 passing for 205 yards while becoming the first player in Monmouth history to have 3,000 total yards of offense in a season.
The blue and white trailed 7-0 after the first quarter of play, before the offense really turned things on sparked by Guerriero’s 57-yard burst through the middle of the field in the second quarter to give MU the 10-7 lead.
The momentum completely swung Monmouth’s way after this long score was followed up by a muffed kick by the Fighting Camels to give the ball right back to the Hawks’ offense that was just beginning to catch their stride. Bahar then found junior wide receiver Lonnie Moore IV for the 36-yard touchdown to put them up 17-10 at the half. Moore IV hauled in three passes for 73 yards on the afternoon while the touchdown was his eighth of the season which leads all Monmouth receivers.
From here the second half was an onslaught as the Monmouth offense scored 30 second half points led by three more Guerriero scores while the defense locked down and did not allow a single point the rest of the way.
Senior linebacker Da’Quan Grimes anchored the defensive effort with an enormous career-high in tackles totaling 18 including two for a loss as well as a fumble recovery. This dominant performance was more than enough to earn him Big South Defensive Player of the Week honors making it a clean sweep for Monmouth in the conference awards department. Senior linebacker Evan Powell also had six tackles on the day including an interception while junior defensive back Justin Terry tacked on six take downs as well as a sack.
“The defense played outstanding all day, including a really good job against the run,” said Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “They clamped down against the pass after the first quarter. They came away with some opportunistic turnovers that the offense was able to convert into points. Anytime you are playing like that, in terms of offense and defense complimenting each other it’s a going to be a good day.”
The Hawks will now close out their regular season at home in the friendly confines of Kessler Stadium on Saturday against Hampton for senior day with kickoff slated for 12:00 p.m.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics