It was a sunny Saturday afternoon here in West Long Branch, on November 6, at Kessler Stadium where the Monmouth Hawks (5-3) defeated the North Alabama Lions (2-6) in a Big South matchup 45-33.
The game began with the Lions starting with the ball and the Hawks defense came out firing. It started with two negative plays then an interception from defensive lineman, Lorenzo Hernandez on a tipped pass.
The Hawks capitalized quickly with a great field position. Sophomore quarterback, Tony Muskett tossed a six-yard touchdown pass and it was caught one-handed by wide receiver Lonnie Moore IV. This gave the Hawks the early 7-0 lead not even a minute into the game.
The Hawks defense continued their hot start forcing a three and out and setting the offense up with great field possession on the next drive. The Hawks offense capitalized and scored again. Running back, Owen Wright took a direct snap into the end zone from two yards out. The Hawks took the 14-0 lead.
The following drive, the Lions got back into the game with a nine-yard rushing touchdown from Parker Driggers to make it 14-7.
After a couple of stops from both defenses, the Hawks ended the first quarter with an incredible one-handed catch by Lonnie Moore IV. The drive continued at the start of the second quarter. Unfortunately, the Hawks stalled in the red zone, but kicker Nick Null knocked in a 24-yard field goal to make it 17-7 Hawks early on in the second quarter.
After the kick, the Hawks defense forced yet another turnover. This time by Senior defensive back Eddie Morales intercepting a pass from Rett Files. The Hawks offense once again capitalized off the defense forcing a turnover.
Another direct snap touchdown was scored by the Hawks from Owen Wright from four yards out. The Hawks lead increased to 24-7 with about 10 minutes to go in the second quarter.
The North Alabama offense struck back though, with a touchdown pass from Jaylen Gipson to Corson Swan to make it 24-14 witht he Hawks sustaining the lead.
North Alabama’s defense forced a turnover on the next possession. Tony Muskett threw and interception to Alonzo Craighton. But the Hawks defense came up big again and forced a three and out. With about 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Hawks offense gets the ball back for a two-minute drill.
The Hawks offense capitalized and struck again. Tony Muskett to Lonnie Moore for the second time and another Hawks touchdown in the first half. The Hawks once again increased the lead to 31-14.
With one minute remaining, North Alabama moved the ball down the field and got back some key points before halftime to make it a two-possession game. Rett Files then threw a touchdown pass to Cortez Hall. The Hawks still led 31-21 going into the locker room.
The Hawks received the second-half kickoff and the offense got a few first downs but they were forced to punt from just over midfield. The Lions capitalized as Rett Files tossed a long 40-yard touchdown pass to Takairee Kenebrew to make it 31-27 Hawks still leading.
On the following drive, the Hawks scored once again. Tony Muskett lofted a beautiful touchdown pass to Owen Wright on a great play-action call. The Hawks took a lead 38-27 and they were not done in the third quarter.
The defense forced another turnover, this time Eddie Hahn V got the interception. The Hawks offense took the ball starting in the red zone. They struck again. Muskett to Moore for the third time. The Hawks increased the lead to 45-27.
The Hawks defense forced yet again, another stop and forced a punt, but Muskett was intercepted and the Lions get a good return inside the Hawks 20. That’s where the third quarter ended.
We started the fourth quarter with a huge sack from Hawks linebacker Ryan Moran on a third down to force a long field goal attempt from the Lions. It was no good from 47 yards.
The Hawks took over on the 30-yard line with a three possession lead and the score remained 45-27. After the field goal miss the Lions forced a 3 and out. But punter Ryan Kost kicks a beautiful punt which is down inside the five-yard line.
The Lions kept themselves in the game and Jaylen Gipson threw a touchdown pass to Dexter Boykin who made a spectacular catch. The score became 45-33. After, the Hawks stopped the Lions two point conversion try with about seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Lions kicked deep to the Hawks inside of trying an onside kick. The Hawks drove the ball down the field and ran out the remainder of the clock. The Hawks won with the final score being 45-33 here in West Long Branch. The Hawks increased their record to 6-3 and a perfect 5-0 in conference play.
Looking ahead, Monmouth will face Robert Morris this Saturday at home. Kickoff will be at 12 pm.