Monmouth takes to the road for the first time this season after opening up 2-0 at home for the first time since the 2003 season.

Lavon Chaney (Monmouth Athletics)

The Hawks are looking to move to 3-0 today against Duquesne after downing rival Wagner 21-16 last weekend at home. Duquesne brings a 1-2 record into today’s game but their two losses came at the hands of FBS opponent Buffalo and nationally-ranked Youngstown State. The Dukes are in the midst of a three-game home stand.

After rolling Delaware State 52-21 to open the season, MU had a bye week before hosting Wagner last weekend. In a grind-it-out defensive battle, the Hawks never trailed, capitalizing off an early turnover to take a 7-0 lead on a KB Asante touchdown reception. The Hawks kept in front of the Seahawks throughout the contest but a special teams miscue late in the fourth quarter set Wagner up deep in Monmouth territory, down by 5. With time winding down, Wagner QB Brian Gehring was intercepted in the endzone by Monmouth freshman safety Mike Basile and the Hawks moved to 2-0 for the first time since the 2006 season. For his efforts, Basile was named Crons Brand Big South Freshman of the Week.

Duquesne opened the season with a near upset of Buffalo, going down 14-0 but battling back to take a 28-24 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter. In their second game, the Dukes fell behind 28-0 but again came back outscoring Youngstown State 16-3 in the second half, eventually falling 34-23. Duquesne broke into the win column last weekend defeating Dayton 33-13, their largest margin of victory over the Flyers since 1920 when Art Rooney was the quarterback.  With the win over Dayton, Duquesne has now won six consecutive games at home.

THE COACHING MATCHUP:

Kevin Callahan is in his 22nd season at Monmouth as the Hawks’ head coach. Callahan owns a 122-97 career coaching record, all with Monmouth. Callahan is one of 20 active head coaches in the FCS with over 100 career victories and his 122 victories ranks 13th among active FCS coaches. The only coach in Monmouth history, he has led the Blue & White to five conference championships, in 1996, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Callahan has earned NEC Coach of the Year accolades in 1998, 2003 and 2006. Prior to arriving in West Long Branch, Callahan served as defensive coordinator at Colgate for eight seasons and at Wagner for three years. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Albany (1977-79) and Syracuse (1980) before becoming a Seahawk assistant in 1981.

Duquesne is led by Jerry Schmitt, who is in his tenth season as the head coach of the Dukes.  Schmitt owns a 55-43 record (.557) in nine seasons in Pittsburgh, which is the third best coaching record in the 100+ years the school has sponsored the sport.  The Pittsburgh, Pa., native led Duquesne to at least a share of the MAAC Championship during his first three seasons as head coach.  Schmitt was an assistant with the Dukes in the 1985-87 seasons, then returned to serve as Offensive Coordinator from 1992-1999.  He served as head coach of Westminster College from 2000-04, leading the Titans to a 28-21 record and a President’s Athletic Conference title.  Schmitt graduated from Westminster College in 1982.

INSIDE THE MONMOUTH-DUQUESNE SERIES:

Today marks the ninth time that Monmouth and Duquesne have met on the gridiron, with MU holding a 5-3 advantage in the series. Last year Monmouth fell behind early but battled back to tie the score 23-23. The Dukes scored the final 10 points of the game to clinch the victory at Kessler Field. Hill threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns while tight end Mike McLafferty had 113 yards in the contest. KB Asante had 131 yards on 27 carries for the Blue & White.

In the last meeting at Duquesne, Monmouth took a 21-7 lead at halftime but 17 unanswered points by Duquesne put the Dukes in the lead in the fourth quarter. Julian Hayes recorded a career-high 158 yards rushing on 36 carries, none bigger than his 23 yard scamper on third and 18 with MU in the lead and time winding down. Hayes scored twice, including the game winner with 9:40 left. The Dukes won the first matchup in this series in 2003, but the Hawks won the next four in a row.

MONMOUTH AGAINST THE NORTHEAST CONFERENCE

Today’s game marks the eighth non-conference game against a Northeast Conference opponent since Monmouth left the league at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Last year Monmouth went 3-3 against NEC squads, including wins over Wagner, Bryant and Robert Morris. Monmouth holds a 73-48 record against teams in the NEC, while a member of the NEC for 16 seasons, the Hawks owned a 69-45 record. Monmouth’s best winning percentage comes against Saint Francis (Pa.), whom the Hawks are 17-4 against all-time. Robert Morris (9-10) is the only NEC team that the Hawks have a losing record against. Head Coach Kevin Callahan led his squad to five NEC Championships, earning Co-Champion honors in 1996, 1998, 2003 and 2004 while winning the outright championship in 2006.

KICK RETURN UNIT FIRST IN FCS

Monmouth’s average kickoff return of 34.57 is first in the FCS. Last weekend Lavon Chaney had 82 yards on three returns, including a long of 37.

MONMOUTH BACKS SHOWING VERSATILITY

Against Wagner, both running backs Lavon Chaney and KB Asante had over 100 all-purpose yards. Asante finished with 122, on 81 yards rushing and 41 receiving yards while Chaney had 118 on 82 kick return yards, 20 receiving yards and 16 rushing yards. The duo lead the Big South Conference in that category.

HILL JUMPS UP TWO SPOTS IN MU ANNALS

With his 20 completions against Wagner, Brandon Hill jumped ahead two spots on MU’s all-time completions moving ahead Doug Rossback and John DiPasquale for sixth all-time with 224 career completions. Hill also moved past Rossback and DiPasquale for sixth all-time in passing yards with 2,789. He needs almost 100 completions and 1,000 yards to move into fifth all-time in each category.

DID YOU KNOW?

Duquesne brings a six-game home winning streak into today’s game. The last time Monmouth visited Rooney Field, the Hawks snapped Duquesne’s 10-game home winning streak in 2012. Dating back to Oct. 2, 2010, Duquesne has lost three times at home, with two of those losses coming against the Hawks.

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