Preview: Monmouth at Saint Francis 10/12/13
The Monmouth Hawks hit the road and travel to DeGol Field Field in Loretto, Pennsylvania to take on the Red Flash of Saint Francis in search of their 4th victory of the season.
Saturday’s game marks the 20th time the Red Flash and the Hawks have met, with Monmouth owning a 17-3 advantage in the series. This will be the second straight game against an opponent from the Northeast Conference since they left the league they called home for 16 years last December.
The Hawks have won three in a row and come off of a 35-9 win over Robert Morris in a game that saw MU rack up 370 yards of total offense. Saint Francis, who enters today’s contest 1-4 on the year, enters after a 38-29 loss at Central Connecticut State.
Monmouth is looking to win for the fourth consecutive game after beating Holy Cross and Columbia on the road prior to last week’s home win over RMU. Running backs Julian Hayes and K.B. Asante have recorded an unprecedented four consecutive games with 100-yards rushing each, rushing for over 900 yards combined in the last four weeks. Last weekend the Hawks dominated Robert Morris to get back to .500 on the season.
Senior safety Clark Coe snagged his first career interception and defensive lineman Darnell Leslie picked up 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss to go along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Junior wideout Neal Sterling caught three touchdowns in the first half.
Saint Francis enters the game 1-4 following back-to-back losses to #9 Fordham and Central Connecticut State. Their lone win in 2013 came against Lincoln three weeks ago, a 38-7 victory in Loretto. After falling to Georgia Southern in the season opener, the Red Flash held a halftime lead over #19 James Madison before falling, 24-20.
The St. Francis offense centers around the top rusher in the nation, Kyle Harbridge, who has rushed for 937 yards in the first five games of the year. After sitting out last season with an injury, Harbridge has bested 100 yards rushing in every game this year, including two games with 200+ yards on the ground.
THE COACHING MATCHUP:
Kevin Callahan is in his 21st season at Monmouth as the Hawks’ head coach. Callahan owns a 117-94 career coaching record, all with Monmouth. Callahan is one of 21 active head coaches in the FCS with over 100 career victories and his 114 victories ranks 15th 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.
Saint Francis is led by fourth-year head coach Chris Villarrial, who brings a 9-29 career record into today’s contest. Villarrial was named the program’s 25th head coach in December of 2009 after spending the season as the offensive coordinator of the Red Flash. Last season, he led the Red Flash to a 5 win season, the most wins the program recorded since 1992. In 2011, Villarrial coached two players to All-American honors and three to All-NEC teams. A native of Hershey, Pa., Villarrial spent 11 seasons in the NFL as an offensive lineman with the Chicago Bears (1996-2004) and the Buffalo Bills (2004-06).
While playing for IUP, Villarrial was a three-year All-American and three-year all-conference player. He played in the 1993 Division II National Championship game, and received the Jim Langer Award for Best Lineman in Division II in 1996.
INSIDE THE MU-SAINT FRANCIS SERIES:
The game marks the 21st time that Monmouth and Saint Francis have played, going all the way back to 1993, the first season that MU started football. MU and St. Francis have met every season that Monmouth has had football, with the Hawks holding a 17-3 series lead. The Blue and White won 11 in a row over the Red Flash between 1994 and 2004. Last season the Red Flash visited West Long Branch and beat MU 45-31 on 11/10/12. Julian Hayes, KB Asante and Neal Sterling all scored touchdowns for Monmouth, and Andrew Sutton returned a blocked punt by Mike Upham for a score, but it was not enough. St. Francis running back Anthony Abeid rushed for 119 yards in the win.
The last time the Hawks visted Loretto, MU beat St. Francis 48-45. Julian Hayes rushed for four touchdowns and 128 yards total, and Craig Peterson completed 20-of-29 for 316 yards. He found Tristan Roberts and Neal Sterling for touchdowns, as MU posted 466 yards of total offense. In a back and forth game that featured two fourth quarter lead changes, Hayes found the endzone with 7:26 to go to give MU the lead for good. Pat Gray intercepted Pat Kelly with 1:22 left to seal the MU win.
HAWKS TO JOIN THE BIG SOUTH IN 2014
In February of 2013 Monmouth University officially accepted a invitation to join the Big South Conference as an associate member in the sport of football. With most of the Big South schedule already set, the Hawks were forced to play an independent schedule for the first time since 1995. The Hawks signed a four-year deal with the Big South and will compete for the league’s auto bid to the FCS Playoffs with Liberty, Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern, Presbyterian and Gardner Webb, beginning in 2014.
FOUR STRAIGHT WEEKS ASANTE & HAYES ECLIPSE 100-YARD MARK EACH
KB Asante and Julian Hayes completed their fourth consecutive week of 100 yard rushing games against Robert Morris last weekend. After becoming the first tandem to both break 100 yards in a contest in six years against Lehigh in Week 3, the pair repeated the feat the next three weeks. The Hawks as a program had only accomplished the feat four times in 20 seasons, and have now done it four weeks in a row.
The two have combined for 924 yards and 7 touchdowns in the three game stretch, and MU has gone 3-1 in those games.
DID YOU KNOW?
Monmouth’s rush defense has held opponents to just 86 yards per game on the ground and only 3.4 yards per carry during their three game winning streak. They will face the nation’s leading rusher in Kyle Harbridge and a St. Francis rushing offense that has averaged 211.8 yards per game on the ground.