Every team puts out a nice media guide before every game. It tells the reader everything they ever wanted to know, including career stats for all the players involved, the history of the two teams competing, and even who the announcers on the radio broadcast are.
It also tells you the rankings of each team’s offense and defense.
Coming into today’s Monmouth-Wagner matchup, the Wagner defensive rank stood out: eighth in the nation among all FCS teams. Hawks head coach Kevin Callahan mentioned it at practice earlier this week.
Clearly today’s game was going to be a matchup of a high-powered Monmouth offense ranked 22nd in the country against a strong defensive unit that had made their mark in the first two games, holding their opponents to 17 total points.
Well, after 60 minutes of football, the Monmouth (2-1, 1-0) offense won out, as they used an efficient stretch in the first and second quarters to beat Wagner (0-3, 0-1) 38-17 on the road and get their first Northeast Conference win of the year.
On their third possession of the game quarterback Kyle Frazier led the Hawks 62 yards in eight plays, the capper of which was a 16-yard touchdown run of his own to make it 7-0 Monmouth with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Wagner did use the next drive to their advantage, getting a 29-yard field goal to cut the deficit to four, but by the time of their next scoring drive, Monmouth would still be 11 points ahead.
First, the Hawks would get the help of a 15-yard rush by Julian Hayes that took the ball to the Wagner 19-yard line. And then on the very next play, Frazier found wideout Tristan Roberts in the end zone for another touchdown, and it was 14-3 with nine seconds left in the first quarter.
Wagner then punted, and to make matters worse for the Seahawks, it wasn’t a very good one. Monmouth got the ball on the Wagner 41-yard line. Then they made their plight even worse by having a 15-yard facemask penalty, and by the time it was all over, Monmouth running back K.B. Asante ran it in from two yards out and Monmouth had a 21-3 lead and it seemed like the Wagner offense barely had the football.
The ensuing possession was Wagner’s best of the day, as they used a 25-yard pitch-and-catch to from Nick Doscher to Anthony Carrington and a 21-yard run from Dominique Williams to set up the only offensive touchdown of the day, a 9-yard Williams touchdown run off an option pitch to cut it to 21-10 with 8:20 left in the half.
From here the game got a little ugly, with Monmouth robbing themselves of chances due to offensive penalties, and Wagner’s offense having issues containing Dan Sullivan. Sullivan played more defensive end than he normally does, and finished up with 3.5 sacks, preventing Doscher from getting into any sort of rhythm. Doscher finished just five-of-17 passing for 54 yards.
At the very end of the half Monmouth found itself once again, however, as Frazier led the squad 55 yards in five plays, aided by a late hit out of bounds penalty on Wagner. He capped off the drive by hitting Lamar Davenport for a 17-yard touchdown strike, and with 21 seconds remaining in the half, it was 28-10 Monmouth.
Frazier finished the day 22-of-28 passing for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Roberts led the Hawks in receiving with six catches for 58 yards and the earlier touchdown.
That would also be the halftime score.
Monmouth put the first points up on the board in the second half as well, as Hayes capped off a nine-play, 65-yard drive with a two yard scamper to make it 35-10 Hawks at the end of the third quarter. Hayes had 103 yards rushing on the day.
One would think that would wrap it up, but Wagner had one last attempt. Otis Wright ran back the kickoff 89 yards to the house to make it 35-17, and after a Monmouth punt, Wagner had a tiny window to get back into the game.
Wagner decided to change quarterbacks, and they turned to Kramer Berg looking for a spark. Unfortunately for them, Berg was sack by Eric Macik, and a fumbled ensued. Monmouth's Bill Lauch recovered, which stopped any chance of a Wagner comeback.
Eric Spillane tacked on a 41-yard field goal on the ensuing possession, and Monmouth was well on their way to the 38-17 win as the Monmouth offense and their 367 yards of total offense showed who the better unit was on this day.
"We thought it was important that we start fast in this game and really kind of generate some momentum," Callahan said. "We thought it was important for us to get on the board first. And I felt we did that."
Monmouth is next in action next Saturday at home against Sacred Heart, a game that has a 1 p.m. kickoff.