Leopards Prevail Against Hawks Football

Monmouth Football (1-3) traveled to Easton, Pennsylvania, this past Saturday in a rainy-day matchup where they took on the Lafayette College Leopards (3-1). The Hawks had moments of success throughout the game, but ultimately fell short by one possession with the score being 28-20 in favor of the Leopards.
The Hawks had an encouraging start as their defense held the Leopards to just three offensive plays before forcing a punt that would only be booted for 31 yards by Leopards senior punter Jakob Trestik.

This would set up graduate student quarterback Marquez McCray and the Hawks offense in excellent field position to start off the day. Although the Hawks couldn’t find the endzone on this drive, Monmouth’s offense took advantage of the field position they were given and eventually scored the first points of the game with an impressive 47-yard field goal from the freshman kicker Michael Calton Jr. with 8:05 left in the first quarter. This gave the Hawks an early 3-0 lead and also happened to be the longest successful field goal of Calton Jr.’s youthful collegiate career.

The Leopards responded quickly on the ensuing drive as they stormed 75 yards down the field on 13 plays. After chewing over seven minutes of game time on this drive, sophomore quarterback Dean DeNobile connected with fellow sophomore wide receiver Elijah Steward for a nine-yard pass that resulted in a touchdown, giving the Leopards a slight 7-3 advantage with only 0:53 left in the first quarter of play.

There were no touchdowns by either team in the second quarter until the Leopards drove 55 yards down field, which resulted in DeNobile scoring his second touchdown of the day. This time, however, consisted of a one-yard run, putting Lafayette in the driver’s seat with a score of 14-3.

On the last possession of the first half, the Hawks were finally able to get some offense going. McCray completed a handful of passes to multiple targets and eventually put the Hawks in position to attempt a field goal right before halftime. Calton Jr. would then add to his day by making a 36-yard field goal, which put the Hawks in a 14-6 hole with time expiring in the second quarter.

Lafayette’s offense would come out hot in the third quarter as DeNobile and the Leopards offense drove the ball down field once again. On a third down and eight, DeNobile completed a clutch 29-yard pass to senior wide receiver Griffin Rooney, which put the Leopards only seven yards away from the endzone. Two plays later, DeNobile continued his huge day with another touchdown, running the ball in from the three-yard line, giving Lafayette a 21-6 lead with 9:50 left in the third quarter.

Later in the quarter, Trestick of Lafayette had another short punt that only went 25 yards, providing the Hawks offense great field position. The Hawks took advantage of this as McCray found senior wide receiver Dymere Miller for a 20-yard touchdown pass, making the score 21-12 in favor of the Leopards. Monmouth’s decision to go for the two-point conversion would end up paying off as McCray would complete a pass to senior tight end Jack Neri. This clutch play put the Hawks in striking distance, as they were now only down by a score of 21-14 with 2:03 left to play in the third quarter.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Hawks were still only down by seven points, but this did not last very long as the Leopards put up their fourth touchdown of the game with DeNobile being involved once again. The sophomore quarterback completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Chris Carasia, putting the Leopards up by two touchdowns at a score of 28-14 with 12:41 left in the game. Offense was hard to find for the rest of the fourth quarter for both sides. This rough patch of the game ended once the Hawks drove 80 yards down the field on a total of 16 plays. The drive resulted in another touchdown connection between McCray and Miller as the graduate quarterback found the senior wide receiver for a short two-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion attempt by the Hawks offense would fail on the next play, keeping the Leopards up by a score of 28-20 with 2:01 left in the game.

The Hawks would end up getting one more chance on offense to try to tie the game, but the Leopards defense stuck its ground as Monmouth could not find a way to score with time expiring on a fourth and fifteen at their own 37-yard line. This resulted in an unsettling 28-20 loss for the Monmouth Hawks.
The Hawks couldn’t come away with a win in Pennsylvania, but some members of the Monmouth team still shined as Miller put up 121 receiving yards and a total of two touchdowns on ten receptions. McCray had 234 yards passing with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. In addition, sophomore punter Luke Schabel had a great day averaging 52.3 yards on his punts, including a colossal punt that traveled 69 yards.

Ultimately, the Hawks rushing game that usually is a strength for the team was held to only 59 yards on 36 attempts. This was key for the Leopards as it limited what the Hawks could do on offense, which is a big reason the Hawks couldn’t put up more than 20 points. The Hawks will look to redeem themselves and get back in the win column when they host the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (1-3) on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. for Monmouth University’s Homecoming game.