#19 Monmouth Earns 49-38 Win Over North Alabama
#19 MONMOUTH EARNS 49-38 WIN OVER NORTH ALABAMA
Kenji Bahar becomes all-time touchdown pass leader
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ- Monmouth quarterback Kenji Bahar (Baltimore, MD/Calvert Hall) threw five touchdown passes while the defense forced three turnovers in the Hawks’ (8-2) non-conference win over North Alabama (3-7) on Saturday.
The Hawks, ranked 19th in the latest STATS FCS poll, scored 35 second half points to win their sixth straight contest. Monmouth is now 15-1 all-time at Kessler Stadium since it opened prior to the 2017 season.
Bahar, who threw for 319 yards, became Monmouth’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns on his second of the day. The reigning Big South Offensive Player of the Week accounted for 323 total yards and was 27-of-36 passing. Pete Guerriero (Lyndhurst, NJ/Lyndhurst) ran for 92 yards on 20 carries while Devell Jones (Iselin, NJ/Lincoln) had two touchdowns on 10 carries for the Blue & White.
Defensively, the Hawks forced four fumbles- recovering three, while sacking UNA quarterback Christian Lopez five times on the afternoon. Da’Quan Grimes (Gaithersburg, MD/Damascus) had six total tackles including a sack while Evan Powell (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) had five tackles, a strip sack and a fumble recovery on the same play. In all, Monmouth had 11 tackles for a loss on the day and held the Lions to 55 yards rushing. Lopez finished with 383 yards and three touchdowns, 248 of which came in the second half.
Monmouth scored touchdowns on three straight third quarter drives to take a commanding 35-10 lead but big pass plays and blocked punt by UNA closed the gap to 35-24 early in the fourth quarter. The Hawks scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter before North Alabama scored twice in 49 seconds to close out the game.
The Lions threatened on their second drive of the game before freshman Tyrese Wright (Bridgeport, CT/Capitol Harbor Prep) forced a fumble on a Lopez scramble and Tymere Berry (Toms River, NJ/Toms River South) recovered on the Monmouth 16. Following a Monmouth punt, UNA drove deep on the Hawks again but the Hawk defense forced another fumble this time with senior Russell Davidson (New Providence, NJ/New Providence) stripping UNA’s Jaxton Carson and Kyle Mullen (Manalapan, NJ/Manalapan) on the recovery.
This time the Monmouth defense drove 77 yards on seven plays ending with a Bahar to Terrance Greene Jr. (Philadelphia, PA/St. Joes) touchdown pass of 27 yards. The TD pass was the 58th of Bahar’s career, tying Brian Boland for most all-time.
North Alabama tied the game up at 7-7 with 11:25 left in the second after KJ Smith intercepted a Bahar screen and returned it to the Monmouth 10. The MU defense held on three straight plays but the Lions eventually scored on a fourth down pass from Lopez to Cortez Hall.
Bahar set the Monmouth record for passing touchdowns on the Hawks’ second scoring drive, when the senior connected with Lonnie Moore IV (Sicklerville, NJ/Paul VI) for a 15-yard touchdown. The Hawks drove late in the half but missed a 32-yard field goal and the Hawks went into the break up 14-7.
Jones scored his ninth touchdown of the season on Monmouth’s opening drive, putting the Hawks ahead 21-7 with 10:51 to play. UNA’s Joe Gurley cut the lead to 21-10 with a 25 yard field goal after UNA had hit two big pass plays to get down inside the Monmouth 10. Tight end Quentin Parham tallied his first career touchdown on a 61-yard touchdown pass with 6:23 left in the third quarter.
NOTES & QUOTES
“We are really excited to get the win and our goal is to just keep moving forward. We came out this week to go 1-0 today and we got the job done. We showed a lot of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Kenji had a great game but I think all 11 guys were out there contributing. We spread the ball around passing and I thought we did a nice job running the ball in the second half.”
-Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan
“We came out here, I thought we had a good week of practice. The players were focused. North Alabama is a good football team, you have to give them credit. They’ve been in every game they’ve played this year. Happy to get this win this week. Winning football games is really hard to do, you have to do a lot of things right.” -Callahan on not having a letdown week after KSU win
“They are two great receivers. I give them chances out there to make one-on-one plays and they come down with the ball.”Kenji Bahar on the play of Moore IV and Greene Jr
“We are unique in the sense that we have a lot of guys making plays on this defense. There are veteran players, young players, defensive backs, linebackers and defensive linemen all contributing and making plays.” Senior Evan Powell on the defensive unit
- With two games to play in the regular season Bahar has set the single-season records for passing touchdowns (22) and passing yardage (2,693)
- Greene Jr. had 47 yards on Monmouth’s first scoring drive, including the 27-yard touchdown, his team leading seventh of the season. He finished with a career-high nine receptions for 125 yards (one shy of his career-high)
- With his second catch of the second half Greene Jr went over 100 yards for the second game this season (Gardner-Webb)
- The interception was just the second for Bahar in six weeks. He has thrown 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.
- Guerriero finished with 92 yards on 20 carries and now has 1,191 yards this season, which is the third most in school history
- Parham had a career day with his first two collegiate touchdowns and three receptions for 76 yards
- UNA scored four touchdowns on their final five possessions
- It was Bahar’s fourth 300-yard game of the season and the eighth of his career
- It is the third time this year Monmouth has had double-digit tackles for a loss and the second most this season (12 vs PC)
- Monmouth has 21 sacks this season after recording just 11 last year
- Moore finished with five receptions for 61 yards and two scores
- Moore and Greene are tied for first on the team with eight touchdown receptions
- Monmouth won the time of possession for the 10th time this season, controlling the ball for 11:21 of the fourth quarter and 33:02.
- Freshman Tyrese Wright finished with four solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble
Monmouth, 4-0 in Big South play, will head to Campbell (3-1 Big South) next Saturday for a crucial game. Kickoff is slated for 1 PM