Monmouth University Football Races Past Lehigh on Homecoming
By MARK MOHRMAN
Associate AD for Communications
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – The Monmouth University football team celebrated Homecoming in style with a convincing 49-7 victory over Lehigh on Saturday afternoon at Kessler Stadium.
The Hawks amassed 619 yards of total offense as Marquez McCray threw for 333 yards with four touchdown passes. Monmouth forced three turnovers, two on defense and one on special teams, and shut out Lehigh in the second half.
Monmouth jumped out to an early lead on its first possession that was set up by a 66-yard run by Jaden Shirden down to the Lehigh one-yard line. Three plays later, Sone Ntoh punched in his first rushing score of the day.
After Lehigh leveled the game at 7-7, Monmouth responded with 21 unanswered points prior to halftime to take a 28-7 lead into intermission. McCray found Dymere Miller for the first of his two scores on a 10-yard connection prior to Deuce Lee's 36-yard pick-six. Monmouth closed the half with a 34-yard dart from McCray to Dre Tucker with 12 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The Blue and White continued the onslaught out of the break when McCray connected with Miller for the second time, this one a 36-yard strike to push the lead to 35-7. After a three-and-out by the defense, Monmouth started its next possession on its own eight-yard line. McCray handed off to Ntoh, who went up the middle to paydirt to push the lead to 35 points.
Monmouth added on with a 29-yard scoring play from McCray to Gavin Nelson that ran the final total to 49-7.
NOTES AND QUOTES
"I am very happy with the effort today and I thought it was a total team effort. Both sides of the ball contributed to the victory. I thought we played pretty well. Obviously as a head coach, you always look at the things that went wrong, maybe a couple of the penalties here and there and things where we weren't as sharp as I would like us to be, but I thought we did an exceptional job offensively. We kind of had our way both through the air and on the ground and really move the ball at will and put it in the end zone. I thought the defense was very opportunistic coming up with some key turnovers and they were very stout against the run all day long. They had a couple of passes on that first drive, but I thought every time that that happened they rallied and got the stop and got off the field. To win by a margin like we did today, I think we feel very good about it and it's just a first step. We've got a long way to go, to get to where we all want to be and we're still 2-3 on the year and that doesn't sit very well with any of us. I just told the guys in the locker room we're going to get to work this week and get ready to go coming out of the bye week."
Head Coach Kevin Callahan on the victory
"I think first of all, we had a very good week of practice and I think this group is highly motivated. Sitting at 1-3 through the first four weeks wasn't sitting well with any of us, any of these guys, any of the coaching staff. I think we had a really good week of practice. We came out on Tuesday and went to work and it was business like Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and even in our meetings last night, it was a very business-like attitude that the guys brought out and I think that showed out there on the field today."
Callahan on the improvement of the team and the decrease in penalties
"I think we just weren't satisfied coming off our earlier four games. We felt like we had so much more in the tank and so much more potential and even them scoring seven points, we were disappointed with that. We're just like we're going to use this going forward and we're gonna fly around and even if the guy missed one assignment, we had five other guys coming in and making the play. It felt like a really great team effort and we played really clean."
Remi Johnson on the defensive effort
"We just been working, you know, throughout the week and everything, talking to each other about everything and what we see and like how I'm gonna do it and how he's going to throw it. We've been connecting, he's been getting it to me and we've just been playing to a standard that the coaches want us to play to."
Dymere Miller on his connection with Marquez McCray
Five Hawks made their first-career starts in the game. On offense Ed Gatling (C) and Ashanti Caviness (TE) opened the game and on defense Logan Barnes (DT), while Deuce Lee and Israel Clark-White debuted in the secondary.
Lee recorded his first-career interception and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown.
Monmouth is now 15-15 all-time in homecoming games and have won five of their last six.
The 42-point win was Monmouth's largest margin of victory on homecoming.
The Hawks are 5-5 all-time against Lehigh and have won five straight in the series.
Monmouth's 619 yards of offense was the most since the Hawks had 719 against Fordham on September 10, 2022.
Marquez McCray threw for a season-high 333 yards and four touchdowns on 22-for-28 passing.
Dymere Miller had eight catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns. It was Miller's seventh career 100-yard receiving game and his third of the season.
Miller moved into ninth in program history in receiving yards (1,620) ahead of Darren Ambush (2013-16).
Miller is now ninth in career receptions with 120 and passed Will Holder (1993-97).
Miller moved past Tristan Roberts (2011-12) into ninth in MU history with 12 career touchdowns.
Sone Ntoh leads the CAA with eight rushing touchdowns after scoring twice in the game. Ntoh's 92-yard touchdown run was the longest since Owen Wright's 99-yarder against UAlbany last season.
It was also the first time since the UAlbany game last year that Monmouth had a pair of 100-yard rushers in a game.
Jaden Shirden finished with 119 yards on the ground and Ntoh had 110.
Deuce Lee's interception and touchdown return was Monmouth's first pick-six since Anthony Budd against Princeton on October 9, 2021.
Monmouth held Lehigh to a season-best seven points, the lowest total for an opposing team since last year's 35-7 win at Lehigh on Oct. 1.
Remi Johnson led Monmouth with nine tackles, including two tackles for loss and eight solo stops.
Miles Mitchell and Tyrese Wright each had two tackles for loss and Wright forced a fumble.
Tyrese Wright reached the 200-career tackle milestone and has 205 in his career.
Monmouth's defense forced eight punts in the game.
Josh Derry (special teams) and Mike Reid (defense) each recovered fumbles in the game.
Dre Tucker scored his second touchdown of the season.
Gavin Nelson's touchdown reception was the first of his career.
Enzo Arjona was 6-for-7 for 55 yards passing.
Monmouth will host Hampton at Kessler Stadium on October 14 following the bye week.
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