Football Seals O.T. Thriller

FB 09.18.19Football squeaked out a 38-35 overtime victory for the ages with a game-winning kick by senior kicker Matt Mosquera against Albany on Saturday afternoon at Kessler Stadium.

Mosquera earned Big South Honors for the second consecutive week being named conference Player of the Week after going a perfect 3-3 on extra points and accounting for 12 of Monmouth’s 38 on his own. He capped off an excellent day by drilling the 25-yard winner to make him 3-4 on field goals including a long 47 yarder.

“You just have to look at what you did wrong on the last kick, come back, adjust, and trust yourself,” said Mosquera. “You have to have confidence in yourself.”

Confidence was one of the keys of the game for the Hawks who converted twice on crucial third and fourth downs where fifth year quarterback Kenji Bahar went for the endzone converting game-changing over-the-shoulder touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Lonnie Moore IV. Bahar completed 23 of 37 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns in the win while five of those went to Moore IV for 76 yards and two scores.

The first points of the game came early in the first quarter as Monmouth ran a fast-paced offense that included multiple screen passes to junior wide receiver Joey Aldarelli and carries for junior running back Pete Guerriero. The blue and white moved right down the field finishing strong with a 26-yard Guerriero touchdown up the middle giving them the early 7-0 advantage. Last week’s Big South Player of the Week compiled a career-high 36 carriers on the day finishing with 179 total yards and a score.

“I do a lot of conditioning and stuff like that to prepare,” said Guerriero. “I live for those moments.”

The Hawks expanded upon this lead in the second quarter starting with two Mosquera field goals to make it a 13-0 game. From here, MU found the endzone once again on a 39-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Terrance Greene Jr. who had five catches for a career-high 74 yards. The two-point conversion was successful as Bahar found the wide open junior wide receiver Zach Tredway extending the lead to 21-0. 

Monmouth was on the verge of a blowout heading into the half before Albany pulled together two drives that ended in long touchdown passes to bring it back to a 21-14 one possession game.

The Great Danes had their way early in the second half capping off a 12 play, 89-yard drive with a rushing touchdown to knot the game back up for the first time since 0-0.

After Bahar’s first perfectly thrown touchdown pass to Moore IV made it 28-21 going into the fourth quarter, junior defensive back Anthony Budd took his game to another level recording his second and third interceptions of the season to stall Albany drives.

With 11:02 to go in the game MU defensive backs got turned around on a deep ball evening the score up at 28-28. Bahar found another gear at this point, leading a 7 play, 69-yard drive with several screens to Aldarelli and a touchdown pass on a crucial third and one to Moore IV.

The game looked to be all wrapped up for Monmouth after the second interception of the day for Budd, however a three and out gave the ball right back to the Great Danes with an outside shot at forcing overtime.

A 21-yard hail mary attempt with seconds left on the clock sailed into the endzone as the Monmouth crowd’s jaws dropped when the Albany receiver came down with his third touchdown of the game to send it to overtime.

“I think everyone can agree that was a heck of a football game,” said Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “There were so many big plays on both sides. As I told our team before the game, our motto for the day was ‘stay tougher longer’.”

That was the story of overtime as Monmouth won the coin toss and elected to trust their defense who came through in a big way. After forcing fourth down, Albany attempted a field goal on their first drive of overtime that clanged off the left upright.

The Hawks established the run on their drive knowing all they needed was a field goal to win, and after several Guerriero runs and a Bahar keeper, Mosquera converted from 25 yards out to win the game 38-35.

“They’re a good football team and they are going to make some plays which you saw today,” said Callahan. “I’m just really happy about where we are today after the win.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Patrick Tewey