MOUNT PLEASANT, MI- In the program’s first contest against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, Monmouth University’s (0-2) football team fell 31-10 to Central Michigan in front of 20,092 fans on Saturday afternoon.

Andrew Foster runs against Central Michigan (Monmouth Athletics)

Central Michigan scored 24 of its points in the second frame, including three touchdown passes from junior quarterback Cooper Rush. The Hawks turned the tide a bit in the second half, holding the Chippewas to 100 yards of total offense while keeping the Mid-American Conference team off the board. Monmouth scored on the opening drive of the second half and threatened to score in the four quarter but ultimately fell by 21 points.

Central Michigan is a very good football team, they are well coached,” said Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “They are very disciplined in what they do, they don’t make mistakes to beat themselves. Coming into the game I felt that we needed make them earn everything they got. We had some breakdowns on defense and at times we made it easy for them but those are things we can fix. Offensive, we were able to get some things going in the second half, put some drives together and score some points. Once we settled down in the secondary I thought we did a good job defensively in the second half.”

Monmouth took the opening drive the second half 75 yards, cutting the CMU lead to 31-10 on a seven yard Zach Welch (Middletown, MD/Middletown) touchdown. It was the Hawks’ most impressive drive of the day as Monmouth went 75 yards on 14 plays.

MU’s defense would hold CMU off the scoreboard for the entire second half but Monmouth’s only other scoring threat ended in an interception at the CMU seven yard line late in the fourth quarter. Freshman safety Deonta Fair (Miami, FL/American Heritage) recorded MU’s first turnover of the season when he intercepted Rush at the Monmouth 11 and returned the ball up to the 44 yard line. Monmouth was unable to capitalize on that drive while neither team would add a point in the final quarter and a half.

CMU outgained Monmouth 402 to 181, with a bulk of those yards coming in the second stanza. The Hawk defense held CMU to 74 net rushing yards while gaining 67 of their own. Rush threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns on 25 of 36 passing while Monmouth QB Cody Williams (Springfield, MA/Springfield) finished 19-of-33 for 114 yards. Tight ends ruled the day as Ben McCord had two catches for 100 yards for CMU while MU fifth-year senior Hakeem Valles (Sicklerville, NJ/The Peddie School) had four catches for 48 yards.

On the opening drive Monmouth’s defense forced CMU into four third-down conversion attempts, including a pair of third and long situations. But each time the Chippewas answered with a first down to keep the drive alive. Central Michigan got on the board first with after wideout Mark Chapman took a handoff along the left side and dove for the pylon for an 11 yard touchdown. The score put CMU up 7-0, capping a 14 play drive that went 73 yards and covered 5:56 of the clock.

Monmouth got a break after its first defensive stop when CMU’s punter Ron Coluzzi shanked a kick that set up MU inside Chippewa territory. One play later Williams had freshman Ugo Ezemma (Nanuet, NY/St. Joe’s Montvale) on a flea flicker that would have knotted the game but the redshirt freshman just put the ball out of reach.

CMU took the ball down the field, converting four more third downs en route to its second score of the afternoon. On second and 10 Rush found wideout Corey Willis for a 17 yard touchdown to give the Chips a 14-0 lead.

Central Michigan added a second quarter field goal before the Chippewas hit their lone big play of the game, an 83 yard strike from Rush to tight end Ben McCord. The touchdown put CMU up 24-0 with 7:08 to play in the first half.

Monmouth moved quickly down the field, marching 57 yards on 10 plays before settling for a 37 yard Matt White (Mars, PA/Mars Area) to put the Hawks back 24-3.

The Chippewas would strike quickly for their final score of the half; with Rush setting up a 1 yard TD pass to Joe Bacci with a 27 yard pass to Willis. The nine-play, 67 yard drive put CMU up 31-3 heading into the break.

Defensively, linebacker Payton Minnich (Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin East) had eight tackles for the Hawks while Anthony McDonnaugh (Philadelphia, PA/West Catholic) had seven and defensive backs Mike Basile (Brick, NJ/Brick Memorial) and Joe Johnson (Manchester, NJ/Manchester) had six apiece. Fair added five tackles to his interception.

Monmouth will hit the second leg of its three-game road swing next week when it faces Wagner on Staten Island. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. between the two rivals.

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