GAME PREVIEW: North Alabama at Monmouth
North Alabama Lions (3-6, Independent) at
#19/20 Monmouth Hawks (7-2, 4-0 Big South)
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019; 12:05 p.m.
Kessler Stadium, West Long Branch, N.J.
Matt Harmon (Play by Play); Kevin Copp (Color Analyst)
DIRECTIONS TO KESSLER STADIUM
Directions to Monmouth University and Kessler Stadium can be found here:
For tickets call 732-263-5735 or visit MonmouthHawks.com for online sales
Day of game tickets can be purchased at the Austin Family Box Office
A LOOK AT THE GAME
Today is the first all-time meeting between Monmouth and North Alabama, with the Hawks riding a five-game winning streak into the contest. The Lions are fresh off of a last second win over Campbell to earn their third victory of the season.
Today is a non-conference matchup as North Alabama is transitioning from Division II to Division I, a transition which will be complete prior to the 2022 season when they will be eligible to win a Big South championship.
Monmouth is coming off a 45-21 win over No. 4 Kennesaw State, its highest ranked win ever. The Hawks dominated all three phases of the game, at one point opening up a 45-7 lead on the Owls after scoring on six consecutive drives.
The Hawks were named as the STATS FCS Team of the Week while Kenji Bahar was named as the CFPA Performer of the Week after throwing for 332 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another.
Monmouth brings a 4-0 home record this season into the contest and own a 14-1 record at Kessler Stadium since it opened prior to the 2017 season.
The game will air on ESPN+ with Matt Harmon (pxp) and Kevin Copp (analyst) on the call.
Military and First Responder Appreciation Day: All military and first responders will receive free entry with a valid ID. The first 500 fans will receive a free Military and First Responders Day t-shirt.
Family Weekend: BOGO with the code HawkFamily (online only)
THE COACHING MATCHUP
Kevin Callahan is in his 27th season at Monmouth as the Hawks’ head coach. Callahan owns a 159-123 career coaching record, all with Monmouth. Coming into the season, Callahan’s 152 victories ranked him 8th among active coaches in the Football Championship Subdivision. He is one of three FCS coaches with 150+ wins all at one institution and his 26 years as a head coach is the seventh most among active coaches. The only coach in Monmouth history, he has led the Blue & White to five conference championships, in 1996, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006 and its first at-large playoff berth in 2017. Callahan has earned conference coach of the year accolades in 1998, 2003 and 2006 and was named as an Eddie Robinson Award finalist in 2017, finishing 10th in the voting. 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.
Chris Willis was introduced as the 10th head coach in North Alabama history in December of 2016. Last season, the first of the Division I era, he led the Lions to a 7-3 record including winning their final four contests. In his first season heading up the UNA team he led the Lion's to Division II's toughest schedule, facing six playoff teams in 10 games. Willis is no stranger to the UNA program having served as the Lions' defensive coordinator from 2012-16 when UNA become the first school in Gulf South Conference history to win four straight league championships. A 1998 graduate of Delta State University, Willis initially joined the UNA staff in 2002 and served as the team's recruiting coordinator from 2002 to 2005. Prior to UNA he won a Division II National Championship as an assistant coach with Delta State.
INSIDE THE MU-UNA SERIES
First Overall Meeting
Overall Record: First Meeting
West Long Branch: ---
Florence, AL: ---
First Meeting: Nov. 9, 2019
Last Meeting: ---
Longest MU Win Streak: ---
Longest UNA Win Streak: ---
Largest MU W Margin: ---
Largest UNA W Margin: ---
Smallest MU W Margin: ---
Smallest UNA W Margin: ---
Overtime Games: ---
MONMOUTH AGAINST THE BIG SOUTH
Since starting up Big South league play in 2014, Monmouth owns an 16-14 conference record, however is 12-2 since 2017.
The Hawks own a 5-1 record against Gardner-Webb, 1-0 against Campbell, 4-2 against PC, 3-3 vs CSU and 1-4 vs Kennesaw State. The Hawks are also 2-0 against Hampton but those were non-conference contests. Today is the first tilt with Northern Alabama.
Monmouth has finished each of the last two seasons in second place in the Big South, and was selected second in the preseason poll.
MU was 0-3 against members of the Big South prior to joining the league, including dropping a home and home series with Coastal Carolina and a non-conference tilt with the Flames.
With the win over Kennesaw, Monmouth won four consecutive Big South games to start Big South play for the second time in school history (2017).
HAWKS EARN HIGHEST RANKING IN PROGRAM HISTORY
After being receiving votes for seven of the 10 previous weeks, Monmouth broke through the national rankings for the first time after the KSU win
Monmouth is ranked 19th in the STATS FCS Poll and 19th in the AFCA Coaches Poll, the first ranking since the 2017 season when the team went 9-3 and made its first appearance in the NCAA FCS Playoffs
The 19/20 ranking is the highest ranking in the 27 year history of the program, with the previous high coming in 2017 when Monmouth was 22nd in both polls
BAHAR EARNS BIG SOUTH OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Bahar, the Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, earned his second conference player of the week honor after leading the Hawks to a 45-21 win over fourth-ranked Kennesaw State last weekend. He guided the Monmouth offense to 45 points and 517 yards (almost double what Kennesaw State had been giving up this year) in the Hawks upset of the No. 4 Owls. After the Hawks fell behind 7-3 in the first, Bahar and the offense scored on six consecutive drives – including a 65 yard touchdown run from the senior. He also threw for 332 yards and a touchdown on 20 of 27 passing. The Baltimore, MD native ran the ball six times for 92 yards to finish with 424 total offensive yards. Kennesaw State came into the game allowing an average of 14.3 ppg and hadn't lost a regular season home game since the 2016 season.
BAHAR SETS MULTIPLE MONMOUTH PASSING RECORDS
Kenji Bahar now owns five of the seven passing records at Monmouth, moving into first in pass efficiency with his effort against Kennesaw State last weekend. Bahar needs just two touchdowns to move into first in touchdown passes. On his second pass against CSU, a 36-yard touchdown to Terrance Greene Jr., Monmouth senior quarterback Kenji Bahar surpassed Brian Boland for the most passing yards in school history. A week before he became the MU leader in career pass attempts and on his eighth completion against CSU he set that career record as well. His 61.6 completion percentage is second only to Brett Burke.
Category KB Record Holder Deficit
Passing Yards 8,332 Kenji Bahar ---
Passing Touchdowns 57 Brian Boland (58) 1
Passing Attempts 1,140 Kenji Bahar ---
Passing Completions 703 Kenji Bahar ---
Total Offense 8,680 Kenji Bahar ---
Completion Percentage 61.6 Brett Burke (64.6) 3.0%
Pass Efficiency 134.12 Kenji Bahar ---
Games Played (QB) 43 Brian Boland (44) 1
Games Started (QB) 35 Brian Boland (43) 8
DID YOU KNOW?
Monmouth quarterback Kenji Bahar connected with Zach Tredway on a short pass on Saturday against KSU that Tredway then took for a 92 yard touchdown it set a new Monmouth record for longest pass completion. The previous long was set in 2002 when Bill Rankin hit Joe Migliore for a 90 yard pass against Morgan State.
Social Media Links:
Follow the Hawks all season long on twitter (@MUHawksFB)
Monmouth’s YouTube page (YouTube.com/monmouthhawks)