Courtesy of Monmouth Athletics
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - The Monmouth University football team topped Bryant, 21-12 in Northeast Conference action on Saturday afternoon at Kessler Field to improve to 2-1 in league play. The Hawks now move to 2-4 on the season overall, while the Bulldogs fall to 4-3 and 1-2 in the conference.
"This was a good win," said head coach Kevin Callahan. "We needed to start fast and we did just that. I thought our kids played hard. I was very happy with the way we played on special teams and did a fairly good job on defense. This is a quality win that hopefully we can build on."
Monmouth got on the board first by virtue of its first safety since logging two against Sacred Heart on October 8, 2005 when Jose Gumbs (Queens, N.Y. /Hebron Academy) blocked Nolan Gelman's punt into the end zone with 11:54 showing in the first quarter. It was also MU's first blocked punt since 2008 against Coastal Carolina.
After the free kick, MU drove down to the 13-yard line where freshman Eric Spillane (Howell, N.J. /Colts Neck) knocked in a 26-yard field goal to put the Blue and White up 5-0 with 8:14 left in the opening quarter.
Gumbs continued his tremendous all-around game when he recovered a fumble later in the quarter, leading to a LJ Caprio (North Caldwell, N.J. /West Essex Regional) three-yard touchdown run to put the Blue and White up, 12-0 with 2:22 left in the opening stanza. The hosts extended their lead to 18-0 when quarterback Kyle Frazier (Gaithersburg, Md. /Damascus) scored on a 34-yard scamper with 9:18 left before halftime.
Bryant was able to get on the scoreboard right before the half ended when quarterback Mike Croce scored on a three-yard run with 2:29 left to cut the MU lead to 18-6. The Bulldogs' drive consisted of 67 yards, 30 of which came on a pair of Monmouth penalties. The two teams went into halftime with the Hawks up by that 12-point margin.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Hawks added to their lead as Spillane connected on his second field goal of the game, giving MU a 21-6 lead with 6:26.
The Bulldogs got a late touchdown when freshman Jordan Harris scored on a 25-yard pass from Croce to give the game its final 21-12 score.
The two teams combined for 455 total yards and 9-for-30 third down conversions. The Hawks limited the potent Bryant rushing attack to 60 yards on 36 carries and 204 total yards in the contest.
Fifth-year senior running back Bobby Giles (Burlington, N.J. /Burlington Twp.) led the offense with 19 carries for 71 yards, including a season-long 30-yard run. Frazier, who ran for 33 yards and a score, completed 15-of-25 passes for 125 yards in the contest. Balial Sloan El (Pennsauken, N.J. /Roman Catholic (Pa.)) ran for 23 yards on seven carries and added a blocked punt as well.
Tight end Tyler George (Berkley Heights, N.J. /Governor Livingston) led the MU receivers with five catches for 28 yards, while a trio of Hawks, Mitchell Pollard (Silver Spring, Md. /Springbrook), Nick Romeo (Wayne, N.J. /Wayne Hills) and Matt Plautz (Harmony, Pa. /Seneca) recorded two catches apiece.
Punter Jack Daniels (Franklin Lakes, N.J. /Don Bosco Prep) punted six times for an average of 43.3 yards per kick, while Mike Avent (Upper Marlboro, Md. /Eleanor Roosevelt) had 57 yards on two kickoffs.
The Hawks defense limited Bryant's Jordan Brown, the NEC's leading rusher coming into the game, to 67 yards on 27 carries. Brown, who was held to 2.5 yards per attempt, came into the contest averaging 130 yards per game on the ground. Croce was 12-of-21 passing for 144 yards, while Jordan Harris hauled in four passes for 77 yards and a score.
Gumbs led the defense with 10 tackles, a TFL, a fumble recovery, three pass break-ups and a blocked punt. Kendall Haley (Olney, Md. /Good Counsel) and Jeff Brady (Eats Aurora, N.Y. /St. Francis) each recorded six tackles, while Chris Mastrangelo (Randolph, N.J. /Randolph) had a pair of tackles for loss.
Linebacker Jason Rife led the BU defense with 11 tackles, while Franck Tebou added eight stops.
The Hawks return to action on Saturday when they host Saint Francis at 1:00 pm at Kessler Field.