Monmouth Hawks down Wagner, 31-16
STATEN ISLAND, NY- Monmouth University (1-2) earned its first win of the 2015 season against rival Wagner (0-2) by a score of 31-16.
Monmouth scored on the second play from scrimmage and never looked back while the defense forced four turnovers and held the Wagner offense off the board until the final minute of the game.
AUDIO OF GAME BROADCAST AT THE END OF THIS REPORT
“I’m very happy that we progressed to the point that we did tonight,” said Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “We worked hard over the first three weeks, it was good to come away with a victory. We started fast tonight, In the second half we were able to get some things going on offense and get the ball in the endzone. We still have a complete game to play out there and that is what we are going to strive for.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Williams (Springfield, MA/Springfield Central) got his first win, throwing for 243 yards on 23 of 34 passing with a touchdown. Junior wideout Darren Ambush (Dickerson, MD/Urbana) had a career day, finishing with seven receptions for 117 yards, a touchdown and 16 yards rushing. Sophomore safety Mike Basile (Brick, NJ/Brick Memorial) had a career-high 17 total tackles while defensive tackle Dimitrius Smith (Millstone, NJ/Jackson Memorial) had a pair of fumble recoveries and a sack to go along with five tackles (16 TFL yards).
The Hawks rolled up 465 yards of total offense while the defense held Wagner to 3 of 10 on third down, including just one third down through three quarters. The Blue & White have now won four straight in the series and lead overall 13-10.
Monmouth came out of the game firing, scoring on the second play from scrimmage on a Lavon Chaney to Ugo Ezemma (Nanuet, NY/St. Joe’s Montvale) 64 yard touchdown pass with just 39 seconds ticked off the clock. Chaney took the handoff left then hoisted the ball up to Ezemma who sprinted uncontested to put the Hawks up 7-0.
After a Wagner field goal, Williams tossed his second touchdown of the season connecting with Darren Ambush for 26 yards in the second quarter. The junior caught the ball on the sideline and dashed to towards the endzone and hit the pylon to put Monmouth up 14-3.
MU’s defense yielded just a field goal in the first half and forced a pair of turnovers inside the Wagner 35 but the Hawks came away without points each time. Freshman defensive end Andrew Foster (Manasquan, NJ/Wall/The Hun School/Michigan State) stripped Wagner’s running back and defensive tackle Smith jumped on the ball inside the Wagner 30.
The Hawks capitalized of a 15 yard Chaney run in the third quarter and a Zach Welch (Middletown, MD/Middletown) jaunt in the fourth quarter to go up 28-3. Wagner’s Otis Wright returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for Wagner first touchdown of the game. Matt White (Gibsonia, PA/Mars Area) connected on a 22 yard field goal with 2:30 to play, pushing the score to 31-10. The Seahawks scored a TD with 49 seconds remaining on a four yard pass from back up QB Alex Thomson to Anthony Carrington. It was the first touchdown the Hawk defense allowed in 89 minutes of game time.
Chaney finished with 66 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown while Welch had 63 yards on seven carries for a 9.0 average. Ambush led all receivers with 117 yards while Ezemma had a career-high 79 yards on four receptions.
“We always talk as a defense that it starts up front and we finally showed that tonight,” said Smith. “We definitely got our best push up front this season so far, which helped me to recover a few fumbles. The young guys on defense helped us out big tonight, without them we wouldn’t have been able to be as effective.”
Wagner’s quarterbacks combined for 174 yards on 16-of-26 passing, 62 of which came on the final drive when Thomson went 5-of-6. QB Chris Andrews led the Seahawks on the ground with 55 yards while Wright had 52 yards.
Monmouth wraps up its three-game road stand next Saturday with a 1 p.m. game against Fordham.
Coach Callahan on Cody Williams
“Cody is making progress, he’s coming along. He’s improved each of the first three weeks so far. He needs to continue to make that progress and he’ll be where we need him to be.
Coach Callahan on Darren Ambush’s career performance
“Darren had a terrific performance tonight. He’s very dynamic with the ball in his hands and shows the ability to split defenders and run with the ball after the catch. He’s also making some difficult catches, he’s one of our playmakers on the offensive side.”
Coach Callahan on the defensive effort
I think the defensive effort was very good tonight. Anytime you can force turnovers and give the ball back to the offense it is going to pay dividends for you. I’ve been happy with the way that even if we give some ground we were able to tighten up near the goal line and keep people off the scoreboard.”
Coach Callahan on Mike Basile’s performance vs Wagner
“As we saw last year Mike is an outstanding player that has great field awareness. He was all over the field tonight, he was in on a number of plays in both the run and the pass game. It is an outstanding performance on his part.”