Story and photo courtesy of Monmouth Athletics
MOON, Pa.- Monmouth University (5-5, 4-3 NEC) wrapped up the final game of the 2012 season with a thrilling 26-21 victory over Robert Morris (4-7, 3-5 NEC), Saturday afternoon at Joe Walton Stadium.
The Hawks, who never trailed in the contest, had built a 17-0 lead after the first half but RMU battled back with 21 points in the final two quarters. Robert Morris, which had three come from behind victories in the fourth quarter in the last four games, forced a punt with just over three minutes in the game down by five. After a terrific Ryan Mohr (West Orange, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) punt pinned the Colonials on their one yard line, RMU went to work, moving the ball deep into MU territory.
The 14 play drive almost ended on a three yard touchdown run on fourth down but RMU was called for holding with seven seconds remaining. With one play left, facing a fourth and goal from their own 13, Sinclair stepped over the line of scrimmage on an incomplete pass and the game ended on an illegal forward pass call, preserving the MU victory.
"I've very happy for our seniors to finish the season off with a win," said head coach Kevin Callahan. "I'm happy for all of players on the team, I'm proud of the way they battled in that game. They continued to play hard all the way to the end. Its an excellent way for our seniors to end their careers."
Kyle Frazier finished his final game as Monmouth’s quarterback throwing 22-of-25 for 258 yards and a touchdown while running back Julian Hayes (Middletown, Conn./Xavier/The Hun School) finished with two scores on 22 carries for 143 yards. Senior Tristan Roberts (Ansonia, Conn./Ansonia/Lackawanna C.C.) finished with five catches for 82 yards while sophomore Neal Sterling (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) hauling in four catches for 88 yards.
The Hawks dominated the first quarter of play, sprinting out to a 17-0 lead and a 161-21 advantage in yardage after the first quarter. Frazier and the Hawks drove right down the field on their first possession, with Hayes tearing off a career-high run 51 yards to set the Hawks up deep in Colonial territory. Two plays later, Hayes finished the drive with a two yard run, putting up MU 7-0 with just 1:34 elapsed from the game clock.
After forcing a three and out of defense, MU drove down again this time ending with a 21 yard Eric Spillane (Howell, N.J./Colts Neck) field goal that put MU up 10-0 with 5:53 to play.
The Hawks pushed their lead to 17-0 on an 11 yard strike from Frazier to Roberts with 55 seconds remaining in the quarter. Roberts’ sixth touchdown of the year capped an eight play, 51 yard drive that took 2:57 off the clock.
Neither team scored in the second quarter, with Robert Morris’ best opportunity coming on a 34-yard field goal attempt that was blocked by senior Mike Upham (Clifton, Va./Centreville). The Colonials had moved down to the Hawk 12 but Robert Morris senior quarterback Jeff Sinclair was sacked for a 15-yard loss by senior Chris Luma (Edison, N.J./Bishop Ahr) that set up them up on the MU 27.
RMU owned the third quarter, scoring on quick drives, including a five play opening half drive that was capped by a 20 yard Dontae Howard run. Sinclair found sophomore Duane Mitchell for 39 yards to cut the Hawk lead to 17-14 with 8:58 to play in the third quarter. That drive took just five plays as well and only took 2:04 off the clock.
Spillane got the Hawks back on the board with a season-long 43 yard field goal with 4:23 to play in the third quarter, putting MU ahead 20-14.
Hayes put MU up by 12 when he rumbled 22 yards for his second touchdown of the game with 11:12 left in the fourth quarter. The ensuing two-point conversion was no good and the Hawks held a 26-14 lead.
The Colonial offense was not done as Sinclair found Mitchell again, this time for 44 yards on a six play drive with 8:05 left in the game. Monmouth put together a few drives, using valuable time but was unable to get anymore points. The final MU drive stalled at their own 45 but Mohr’s season long 54 yard punt set up the Colonials need a 99 yard drive for the win.
Safeties Pat Gray (Westfield, N.J./Westfield/Hargrave Military) and Andrew Sutton (Williamstown, N.J./Williamstown) led the Hawks with nine and seven tackles respectively. Monmouth had four sacks in the game while RMU collected six against the Hawks but none in the fourth quarter.
Sinclair finished 21-of-34 with 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Mitchell had 116 yards on five catches with both RMU TD receptions. Evan Taylor had 78 yards on the ground while Sinclair added 54. RMU held a 440-418 advantage in yards but the Hawks held a time of possession advantage of 31:30 to 28:30. D.J. Myers led all tacklers with 11 while All-NEC defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof had 2.5 sacks and six total tackles.
Monmouth ends the season 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the Northeast Conference.