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Sports

Football Gets Back to .500 with Homecoming Win

football-1The Hawks (4-4) defeated the Cornell Big Red (1-4) on Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 19 afternoon at Kessler Field by the final score of 48-23. Junior quarterback Brandon Hill led the way with 308 passing yards, and four touchdowns. Senior running back Kwabena Asante also helped the team as he ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

The Hawks defense challenged, but they managed to contain highly scouted Cornell quarterback, Jeff Mathews.

The first quarter was dominated by MU, as they controlled time possession and moved the ball efficiently. The blue and white started off the game with a 25-yard field goal from senior kicker Eric Spillane with 10:32 remaining in the first quarter. The lead increased to 10-0 after senior wide receiver Thaddeus Richards caught his first career touchdown reception from Hill, with 2:07 left in the first quarter.

The beginning of the second quarter carried on with the Hawks controlling the field and furthered the scoring. The team extended their lead to 17-0 when Hill found senior wide receiver Neal Stearling in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown with 9:37 left in the half.

With 5:44 left, momentum shifted in favor of Cornell when the Hawks went three and out on their possession and were forced to punt deep in their own territory. The ball was snapped high over senior punter Eric Spillane's head, and he was forced to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The safety marked Cornell's first score of the game, and cut Monmouth's lead to 17-2.

Big Red's Ben Rodgers ran the free kick back to the Hawks 43-yard line, giving his team great field position. Mathews ran it in for a one yard touchdown to decrease the blue and white's lead to 17-9 with 3:50 left in the half.

After going three and out on their next possession, MU again made a special teams error when Spillane's punt was blocked and recovered by the Big Red on the blue and white's 15-yard line. On their first play, Mathews found his wide receiver Grant Gellatly for a 15-yard screen pass that resulted in a touchdown to with 2:36 left in the half. The Hawks then ran out the clock and went into half with a 17-16 lead.

During the second half, MU ran the ball and passed effectively, continuing to score. The blue and white's special teams returned the favor when they forced a turnover on the kick-off.

On the Hawks following drive, Hill found senior wide receiver Lamar Davenport for a 16-yard touchdown reception to increase their lead to 24-16 with about 13:00 minutes to play in the third quarter.

On their next drive, the Hawks increased their lead to 31-16 when Hill completed a third and ten to senior tight end Mike McLafferty which resulted in a 32-yard touchdown with 6:28 left in the third.

Cornell started to move the ball down the field again, when Mathews rolled out to his left and threw a pass that was intercepted and returned 34 yards by sophomore linebacker John Sieczkowski. The interception was the first of Sieczkowski's career.

After the interception, Spillane kicked a 28-yard field goal to increase the Hawks lead to 34-16 with 2:34 left in the third quarter. Cornell scored for the first time in the second half on their next drive, when Mathews connected with his wide receiver Lucas Shapiro for a 27-yard touchdown 39 seconds into the fourth quarter.

The Hawks never allowed the Big Red to establish consistent momentum on offense, when the running game accounted for 122 yards on 13 carries in the fourth quarter. On their next drive, Hill connected with senior wide receiver Elijah Phillips for a 12-yard reception. After that, Asante caught a 14-yard screen pass, following up with runs of twelve and two yards and finally his first touchdown of the game on a 23-yards carry with 10:14 remaining in the game.

Cornell's next possession resulted in a turnover on downs. After that, Asante ran the ball for 56 yards on five carries, and junior running back Julian Hayes added two carries for 17 yards. Asante bowled his way into the end zone from three yards out to give the Hawks a 48-23 lead with 2:05 left in the game.

"I'm very happy with the way we played today, it was an excellent team win," said head coach Kevin Callahan. "I thought we played well on both sides of the ball, especially the defense that held the fifth-ranked passer in check for most of the game. The defense really played their hearts out."

The Hawks return to action on Saturday, Nov. 2, when they travel to Fairfield to take on Sacred Heart. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 pm.

PHOTO COURTESY of Jim Reme

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