Monmouth Falls to Holy Cross in Home Opener

The Monmouth University Hawks have dropped to 2-2 after their loss in their home opener Saturday against the 3-1 Holy Cross Crusaders. 

The Hawks and the Crusaders first met in 2013 and have now met a total of five times with the Hawks winning three out of the five. This time around, from start to finish it was all Holy Cross.

The Crusaders took a commanding 14-0 lead after the first quarter with two touchdowns. One from running back Jordan Fuller and another a pass caught by wide receiver Tenio Ayeni from quarterback Matthew Sulka. 

It turned out that Crusaders’ Tenio Ayeni wasn’t done yet and he caught another 71 yard touchdown. The second quarter started off on a screen pass and this time from quarterback   Marco Siderman to give the Crusaders a 21-0 lead. Siderman wanted more. He tossed another touchdown to wide receiver Jalen Coker. This gave Holy Cross a 28-0 lead going into the locker room. 

The Hawks started out the second half showing signs of life. Sophomore quarterback Tony Muskett led a long drive for the Hawks and they capitalized. Muskett threw a touchdown pass to senior wide reciever Joey Aldarelli to make it 28-6. The Hawks then decided to go for a two point conversion which they succeeded on all thanks to wide reciever Lonnie Moore. Moore rushed into the endzone and the score was now 28-8 as we were about half way through the third quarter. 

The game was controlled from there on out by Holy Cross. The Crusaders added three more towards the end of the third quarter with a field goal from Derek Ng. 

In the fourth quarter the Crusaders added two more touchdowns. First was one rushing touchdown from Pete Oliver to make it 38-8. Following that they had another rushing touchdown from Jordan Forrest to make 45-8. 

With the clock winding down in the fourth quarter Hawks freshman running back Jaden Shirden broke free from the defense and scored a 75 yard touchdown. This made it 45-15 which ended up being the final score in West Long Branch. This allowed a non-conference win for Holy Cross and Monmouth’s first loss at home since the 2018 season.

Overall, Tony Muskett was sacked a total of six times to one scoring drive and the team was missing some big impacts in key players. Graduate students defensive end Kahari Scarlett and middle linebacker Da’Quan Grimes are both out due to injury. 

Some positives that came out of this game for the Hawks were Lonnie Moore’s nine receptions on 10 targets and for 78 yards. He achieved 136 all-purpose yards in the game. Senior punter Ryan Kost averaged 49.4 yards per punt. That was with a career-long of 60 as well as a pair placed inside the 20. 

Freshman running back Jaden Shirden committed his first collegiate score with his outstanding 75-yard touchdown which became the longest pla from scrimmage for Monmouth this season. On defense, Eddie Hahn carried out a pair of sacks with Tyler Delgado getting one sack and seven tackles. 

Next up is homecoming against Gardner-Webb who racked up 552 yards of offense in their win against Western Carolina. In the past, Monmouth has dominated against the southern school. After meeting for the first time back in 2014, Monmouth has earned a record of 6-1 against them. 

The two schools last met recently on April 3, 2021 in their Spring season due to COVID where the boys in blue and white won 48-19.  Still hungry for an FCS playoff run and another Big South Championship title, the Hawks will host the Runnin’ Bulldogs at Kessler Stadium at 1:00 pm.