MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa.- Monmouth University’s (4-1) football team rolled up 532 yards of offense and forced six turnovers in a dominating 51-20 win over Robert Morris (0-5) Saturday at Joe Walton Stadium.
Game broadcast audio at the end of this report

The Monmouth Hawks line up against Robert Morris (Monmouth Athletics)

Monmouth ran out to a 37-0 lead late in the third quarter on Lavon Chaney’s (Edgewater, Md./South River) third touchdown on the day as the defense didn’t allow a point until 11 seconds left. The defense recorded back to back interceptions, leading to a pair of MU scores within 11 seconds of each other to start the fourth quarter and put Monmouth up 51-7.

“It’s a great win on our final trip out here to Robert Morris,” said Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “I was particularly pleased with the way our offense and defense seemed to feed off each other. I thought the defense made an awful lot of big plays and turned some of them into touchdowns. They gave the ball to our offense in prime field positions and our offense took advantage of that and put points on the board. It was a very good team win collectively.”
The defense recorded a season-high seven sacks, 12 tackles for a loss and two interceptions. Senior defensive lineman Zak Irizarry (North Brunswick, N.J./North Brunswick) had a career day with five tackles, 3.0 for a loss including 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Outside linebackers Payton Minnich (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin East) and John Sieczkowski (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) combined for 20 tackles, including Minnich’s career-high 11.

In his first career start, Chaney recorded 163 all-purpose yards including 113 on the ground and two touchdowns. He also had four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Hill went 20-of-37 for 331 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Neal Sterling (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) recorded his second straight 100-yard receiving game, finishing with five catches for 144 yards and a touchdown. During the game he moved ahead of Will Holder for third place all-time in reception yardage with 2,215.

On their second drive of the day Monmouth drove 98 yards on eight plays and took a 7-0 lead on a seven yard Lavon Chaney touchdown. On third and long deep in its own territory, Monmouth got a big play from fullback Jake Mauro (Cheshire, Conn./Salisbury) who caught a ball in the flat and went for a career long 19 yards to jumpstart the drive. Chaney hit a screen for 25 yards then moved the ball into RMU territory with a pair of runs setting up a first and 10 from the Colonial 41. On the next play Hill connected with Sterling for a 35 yard pass down to the four. Two plays later Chaney scored his first of three touchdowns on perfectly executed screen play.

The MU defense forced a three and out and Monmouth went back to work driving 44 yards on eight plays, going ahead 14-0 on a two-yard Chaney run with 4:53 to play in the first. The Blue & White defense was nearly unstoppable in the first quarter, holding RMU to 21 yards of total offense.

Monmouth continued to dominate on the defensive end, limiting RMU to 106 total yards and five first downs. MU junior placekicker Lucas Santangelo (Jamaica Estates, N.Y./Hempfield) connected on second half field goals of 30 yards and a 25 yards to give MU a 20-0 lead after the break.

The Hawk defense picked up where it left off, forcing a RMU punt on the first possession of the second half. Santangelo converted a 36 yard field goal to put MU up 23-0 with 8:32 left in the third quarter.  On RMU’s next drive Irizarry sacked quarterback Derik Abbott on second down and stripped the ball where it was recovered by senior linebacker Dan Sullivan (Manasquan, N.J./Manasquan). Two plays later Hill hit Sterling for a 31 yard TD and Monmouth’s lead expanded to 30-0.

On the first play of RMU’s next drive, Abbott was strip-sacked again, this time by Sieczkowski and Monmouth recovered at the Colonial 23. Chaney took a handoff off the right side and cruised for his third score of the game to give Monmouth a 37-0 lead with 6:06 to play in the third frame.

With 11 seconds left in the third quarter RMU finally crossed the goal line on a 19 yard pass from Abbott to Sean Gavin to cut the lead to 37-7. On Robert Morris’ first drive of the fourth quarter Abbott was hit and his errant pass was intercepted by Mike Basile (Brick, N.J./Brick Memorial) and returned 56 yards down to the RMU six. One play later Zach Welch (Middletown, Md./Middletown) plowed up the middle for his first collegiate touchdown giving Monmouth a 44-7 lead.

Abbott’s long day continued as a miscommunication with his wide receiver resulted in an easy interception for sophomore Kevin Butler (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway) which he returned for a pick-six. Butler’s first career interception gave the Hawks a 51-7 lead with 13:37 to play in the game.

Robert Morris scored two late touchdowns with Monmouth resting almost the entire defense for almost 12 minutes of the fourth quarter. The Colonials recorded 133 of their 330 yards on their final two drives, including 95 yards.

Abbott finished 16-of-28 for 163 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Duane Mitchell led the Colonials with five catches for 70 yards while freshman tailback Ramseses Owen had 154 yards on 24 carries.
Monmouth returns home for the first time since early September for a 1 p.m. game against Columbia on Homecoming.

Coach Callahan on Lavon Chaney’s first career start

“Lavon is someone we have the utmost confidence in,” said Callahan. “We were very confident that once he got the opportunity to demonstrate what he could do, he would take advantage of it and I think that is what we saw today. Not only did he rush the ball and make some big plays, he was very effective catching the ball. I’m very happy with what he did. The younger guys behind him stepped up and got some carries themselves in Zach Welch and Ed Royds.”

Coach Callahan on the play of the defensive line

“I thought our defense live line did a great job of pressuring the quarterback,” said Callahan. “We got him on the ground seven times and forced him into some bad throws and bad decisions. We hounded him constantly and he put the ball on the ground.  That type of tenacious defense is something we need to
continue to have and improve upon as we move forward and get ready for the remainder of the schedule.”

Nest Notes:

-Monmouth is now 10-10 all-time against Robert Morris and has a winning or tie record against every member of its former conference

-The seven sacks by the MU defense is the most since a 2004 game also against the Colonials (8 sacks)

-The Hawks are now 4-1 all-time at Joe Walton Stadium and 6-5 all-time on the road against RMU

-Sterling needs just 38 yards to move ahead Adam San Miguel for second all-time in career receiving yards and just over 600 for first place

-With his 331 yards, Brandon Hill now has four 300+ yard passing games, tied for first all-time with Kyle Frazier

-Monmouth kicker Lucas Santangelo went three-for-thee on field goals and finished with a career-high 15 points

-The Hawks are now 4-1 for the first time since 2006

-Monmouth gave up 20 second-half points, tying the amount it yielded in the first four games
-Brandon Hill’s 11 touchdowns through five games is tied for 10th most in a single season

-Butlers INT returned for a TD was the first by a Monmouth player since Kenny Amsel did it against Central Connecticut State in 2010




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