Historic Season Ends For Monmouth At James Madison
HARRISONBURG, VA – Monmouth University (11-3) football’s historic season ended on Saturday, falling to second ranked James Madison (12-1) 66-21 in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.
James Madison broke open a 21-21 game in the second quarter by scoring 45 unanswered points to win their 12thconsecutive game of the season. The Dukes rolled up 623 yards of offense compared to 266 for the Hawks. JMU quarterback Ben DiNucci was 21-of-25 for 273 with two touchdowns while Kenji Bahar (Baltimore, MD/Calvert Hall) was 16-of-32 for 173 yards and a touchdown.
Monmouth, ranked 11th in the most recent American Football Coaches Association poll, finished the season with an 11-3 record, setting numerous school records along the way. Along the way the Hawks won their first playoff game, had a school-record nine-game winning streak and won 11 games for the first time in school history.
The Hawks got out to a fast start with Pete Guerriero (Lyndburst, NJ/Lyndhurst) racing 93 yards on the first play from scrimmage to put the Hawks up 7-0. Guerriero’s 93-yard run, the longest run in Big South history and the second longest run against James Madison in program history.
James Madison answered on the fifth play of their first drive with a 49 yard Ben DiNucci to Brandon Polk touchdown pass to tied the game at 7-7 with 12:46 to play.
Not to be outdone, Monmouth’s Lonnie Moore (Sicklerville, NJ/Paul VI) took the ensuing kickoff 93 yards to the house to put the Hawks back up 14-7 with just over 2:27 expired in game time. It was tied for the second longest kickoff return for a touchdown in school history. The Dukes answered on a 15-play 75-yard drive that ended in a Percey Agyei-Obese rushing touchdown to knot the game up at 14-14.
James Madison pulled ahead 21-14 with 4:21 left in the first after DiNucci hit Jake Brown on a crossing route for a 21-yard touchdown. The Dukes had a short field to work with after blocking Monmouth’s first punt of the game. The Hawks tied it up at 21-21 on a 32-yard Bahar to Terrance Greene Jr. (Philadelphia, PA/Saint Joseph’s) touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter.
James Madison scored 17 unanswered in the second quarter with the Hawks driving deep just once but had a 36-yard field goal attempt blocked just before half.
NOTES & QUOTES
“We certainly have to give a lot of credit to James Madison which is an outstanding football team. In preparing this week we tried to find some weaknesses on both sides of the ball and quite honestly there weren’t any. We knew we were going to have to be at our best today to be in this game and there were times we were but we certainly didn’t sustain that for the full sixty minutes of the game. When you play like that against a team of this caliber, it is going to make for a long day. Today cannot over shadow what we have done this season and what the team has done for Monmouth University.”Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan
- Lonnie Moore’s kickoff return for a touchdown was the first kickoff return for a touchdown since Pete Guerriero’s 95 yarder against Liberty in 2017
- It was the second kickoff return in a playoff game in Big South History
- Guerriero’s 93-yard TD was the longest of his career and the seventh TD run of the season of 50+ yards
- The redshirt junior broke the Big South’s single-season rushing record of 1,981
- With his second quarter TD pass, Bahar became the first player in Big South history to throw 30 touchdowns in a season
- Bahar finished his career as Monmouth’s all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, passing attempts and completions
- Moore finished the season with 74 receptions, tying Reggie White Jr. for the most in a single season
- Monmouth had a punt blocked up the middle for the second consecutive week and the third time this season
- Junior Da’Quan Grimes tied a career-high with 18 tackles in the contest
- Evan Powell had 13 tackles while Justin Terry finished with 10 tackles
- For the first time all season Monmouth did not win the time of possession battle
- JMU was 9-of-13 on third down and 2-for-2 on fourth down
- James Madison ran for 332 yards but did not have a 100-yard rusher
- Greene led the Hawks with four receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown
- In addition to his 107 rushing yards, Guerriero had 37 yards receiving
- Moore led the Hawks with 162 all-purpose yards