Photo Credit: Paul J Mecca

Monmouth Routs Georgetown With Impressive All-Around Effort

WEST LONG BRANCH – Good teams win football games by excelling in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. In Saturday’s 45-6-win at Kessler Field in West Long Branch Monmouth did exactly that and the result was their first win of this young season.

“We got the first win on the season and as I told the team, sometimes that first one is the hardest to get,” Monmouth coach Kevin Callahan said. “We’ve been close in each of the first two weeks but today I thought we came out and played a fairly dominant second half and really sealed the game there.

“On the defensive side we came up with two turnovers and did a much better job (stopping) them on third down in the second half and getting the ball back to our offense and our offense was able to turn those possessions into points on the board. I was very happy with the win, but I still think there are things we can get better at and do a better job of.”

Perhaps most impressively of all was the Hawks' defense. They shutout the Hoyas in the second half allowing just four first downs and 68 total yards and just six points and 251 total yards for the game after getting torched for 52 points and 706 total yards in last week's disappointing loss to Fordham.

“Obviously last week hurt us a lot,” Monmouth strong safety Tyrese Wright said. “During that game we couldn’t get off the field on third downs so that was our emphasis in this week.”

On the Hoyas six possessions of the second half the Hawks defense forced four punts and turned the ball over on an interception and a forced fumble.

“It feels great but like coach Kal said, I think we can play a whole lot better,” added Wright. “The skies the limit right now and we’re going to keep going.”

With 13:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, senior safety Davis Smith’s ferocious hit on Georgetown running back Joshua Stakley popped the ball loose and sophomore linebacker Remi Johnson pounced on it turning the ball over to the Hawks at the Hoyas 35-yard line.

Six plays later on second-and-goal from the 8-yard line, senior running back Juwan Farri bulled his way up the middle for the score pushing the Hawks lead to 38-6 lead.

Sophomore running back Jaden Shirden, who was coming off a 299-yard rushing performance against Fordham, rushed for 19 yards on four carries on the drive. Shirden had a quiet first half rushing for just 32 yards on nine attempts for a 3.3 yards per carry average but exploded in the second half, literally.

On the Hawks first play on their first possession of the second half, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Shirden took a handoff off right tackle and behind excellent blocking by right tackle Justin Szuba and pulling guard Oliver Jervis broke it down the right sideline and raced untouched for a 67-yard touchdown.

The score gave the Hawks a commanding 28-6 lead. Then, on the Hoyas final possession of the third quarter defensive tackle Pat Hayden’s three-yard sack of Hoyas quarterback Pierce Holly forced a three-and-out and punt. Hayden finished with 1.5 sacks, four tackles and a QB hit.

Coming into the game the Hawks had produced just two sacks in two games but Saturday the unit came up with three sacks and put pressure on Holley all afternoon.

“This week we just kept it personal,” said Hayden. “We (the defensive line) kind of felt pretty much responsible for the Fordham loss. We didn’t get enough pressure and we didn’t make him (the QB) think or move around. We took it personal this week in practice and really worked hard in practice – it was a collective effort this week.”

Freshman kicker Vincenzo Rea booted his first field goal of his Monmouth career from 40-yards out to increase the lead to 31-6 and was six for six on extra points and boomed some kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

Shirden, meanwhile, finished with 139 yards on 18 carries for a 7.7 yard per attempt average giving him 438-yards rushing in the last two games.

“Jaden’s one of those dudes that whenever he gets the ball in space or no space, he’s going to make something happen,” said Wright. “He’s electric; he opens our offense up so much. All our backs are playing great right now; our whole offense is playing great right now.”

On Georgetown’s ensuing possession following Farri’s touchdown, strong safety Tyrese Wright intercepted Holley on third-and-20 giving the Hawks a first-and-10 at the Georgetown 36-yard line. Wright ended up with five tackles, including one tackle for loss.

“We’re just trying to get the ball back to our offense so they can score,” Wright said of his interception. “Our offense is very electric.”

Reserve quarterback Frankie Savino then took the Hawks on a six play, 38-yard scoring drive and capped it off himself with a nifty 2-yard touchdown run up the middle pushing the score to 45-3 and setting off a wild celebration on the Hawks sidelines.

Monmouth junior quarterback Tony Muskett had another big day passing for 243 yards and a touchdown completing 19-of-30 passes without a pick as the Hawks offense outgained the Hoyas 466 to 252 in total yardage.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound signal caller spread the ball out to seven different receivers and four running backs throughout the afternoon.

Muskett had a big first quarter stalking the Hawks to an early 14-0 lead. He was 8-of-11 for 135 yards in the quarter, including a beautifully placed 48-yard pass to wideout Ugo Obasi that Obasi hauled in over his shoulder at the Hoyas 14-yard line.

Obasi finished with three receptions for 81 yards – all in the first half. Alex Bryant led the Hawks with five receptions for 35 yards followed by Assanti Kearny (2-29), Dre Tucker (2-28), T.J. Speight (2-21) and Darrion Carrington (2-14).

Three plays later on third-and-3 from the 7-yard line Shirden picked up four yards and first down before Owen Wright took a direct snap up the middle for a 14-0 lead. Wright’s touchdown was the second of three in the game.

The offense stalled somewhat in the second quarter and produced just three first downs and 40-yards of offense.

“We came out and executed really well then in the second quarter we got a little slower and fell down a bit,” said Muskett. “That’s one of the areas going into next Saturday where we can get better. When we come out hot, how can we sustain it. Besides that, second quarter we were electric the whole game, but we got to figure out how to cut out those little lapses and be a great offense start to finish.”

On the Hawks 'opening possession of the game, Muskett engineered a 10 play, 65-yard scoring drive that Wright finished off with a direct snap 1-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead. Muskett was 5-of-6 for 51 yards on the drive with a 20-yard completion to Kearny that gave the Hawks a first down at 1-yard line to set up Wrights score.

Monmouth’s defense was aided by the punting of STATS Preseason All-American punter Ryan Kost who averaged a spectacular 49.7 yards per punt in the first half and continually pinned the Hoyas deep in their own territory.

“He has the ability to flip the field every time he goes out there,” said Callahan. “He had some really long ones and anytime you have to punt from your own territory and can pin them deep in their own territory it sets your defense up for success on that next drive.”

A 52-yard Kost punt from the Hawks own 35-yard line gave the Hoyas a starting position back at the 19-yard line with 13:18 to go in the half and the Hawks defense forced a three-and-out. Defensive tackle Dominick Spano stopped Hoyas running back Mason Gudger for no gain on first down and cornerback Mike Reid had consecutive pass breakups leaving the Hoyas with a fourth-and-10 at the 19.

Georgetown punter Davis Walker then shanked a punt for nine yards giving the Hawks excellent field position at the Hoyas 28-yard line. Seven plays later, Muskett hit Wright on a swing pass for a touchdown and a 21-3 lead.

Monmouth’s “Bend Don’t Break” defense in the first half held the Hoyas to two field goals after stopping them on a nine play, 69-yard drive and a 11 play, 54-yard drive respectively. Georgetown held a 15 to 11 advantage in first downs and had 183 yards of offense in the first half before the Hawks defense totally shut them down in the second half.

Linebacker Da’Quan Grimes’ six-yard sack of Holley on a third-and-15 from the Hawks 15-yard line set up a fourth-and-21 from the 21-yard line and Georgetown elected to kick a field goal from 38-yards out to pull the Hoyas to within 21-6.

Following a 53-yard Kost punt on the Hawks ensuing possession, Hayden and Chris King combined for a sack for a 5-yard loss which contributed to another exchange of possessions. King finished with 2.5 tackles for loss and a shared sack.

On Georgetown’s final possession of the first half still down 21-6, the Hoyas were faced with a fourth-and-7 from the Monmouth 31-yard line desperately needing points on the board. But Holley’s pass to Tomas netted just two yards on a fine defensive stop by cornerback Jaylen Dotson, who led the Hawks with nine tackles, including eight solo stops.

Safety T.J. Kamara and cornerback Eddie Morales III each had third-down pass breakups halting Georgetown drives.

In pregame warmups you could see the Hawks players were pumped up and has a sense of urgency entering the game Saturday.

“One of the things we talked about was coming out with a lot of energy,” said Callahan. “Everybody having energy on every play and being able to sustain that from the beginning of the game throughout the game. And at halftime we talked about cranking it up even more because we felt like we left some plays out there.”

There’s a big difference between starting out 1-2 compared to 0-3 and Muskett was well aware of that entering Saturday’s game.

“It’s huge,” Muskett said of the win. “I think our guys really needed this. The past two weeks we had fourth quarter leads and just weren’t able to finish. So, coming into this week emphasized finishing and being a fourth quarter football team and playing up to the Monmouth standard. If we can do that this Saturday we’re going to be in good shape.”

Monmouth will now begin preparation for next Saturday’s showdown at Colonial Athletic Conference adversary Villanova (3-0) – ranked fifth in the FCS Coaches Top 25 Poll.















Jaylen Dotson Monmouth University Football vs. Georgetown 9-17-2022