KENNESAW, GA — The Monmouth University football team (7-2, 4-0 Big South) scored 42 unanswered points to cruise to a 45-21 win over No. 4/5 Kennesaw State (7-2, 2-1 Big South), the highest ranked team the Hawks have ever defeated.
It was Monmouth's first win over Kennesaw State, who came into the game ranked first in the NCAA in total defense (259.0 ypg), and third in both scoring offense (41.4 ppg) and scoring defense (14.3 ppg). Monmouth's defense allowed just 292 yards on the ground while the offense churned out 517 yards including 332 through the air.
The Hawks fell behind 7-3 in the first quarter before fifth-year senior Kenji Bahar (Baltimore, MD/Calvert Hall) led a 42-point onslaught that included a pair of Devell Jones (Iselin, NJ/Lincoln) touchdowns and a Pete Guerrieo (Lyndhurst, NJ/Lyndurst) score on the ground. Bahar finished 20-of-27 passing for 332 yards and a touchdown pass, while adding 92 yards rushing.
It is the worst home loss in Kennesaw State's history and was the first time in 13 games the Owls were handed a conference loss. The loss was also KSU's first regular season setback at home since Oct. 15, 2016 — snapping a streak of 17 consecutive wins.
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After four consecutive three and out possessions started the game, the Hawks struck first with a 23-yard Matt Mosquera (Middletown, NJ/Middletown North) field goal. The Owls answered quickly, scoring a touchdown on a two-yard Tommy Bryant touchdown run to take a 7-3 lead.
Monmouth retook the lead on its next drive on a two-yard Devell Jones touchdown run. That drive took just 2:38, going 68 yards on nine plays. After another forced three and out by the MU defense, the Hawks went up 17-7 on an eight-yard Jones touchdown run with 9:15 to play in the second quarter.
Guerriero went untouched up the middle for the Hawks' fourth score of the first half and Monmouth led 24-7 with 2:17 to play. Senior Tymere Berry (Toms River, NJ/Toms River South) closed out the first 30 minutes of play with a 41-yard interception return, the first Monmouth INT for a touchdown this season.
NOTES & QUOTES
"A great win for our team and our program and I couldn't be happier for the guys on this team. This is something they've been working towards since last winter, all through the spring and the summer. To come down here and win the way that we won against the number four team in the nation on their own field is very impressive. I think the members of our coaching staff, both offensively and defensively, did an outstanding job on their game plans and the players did a terrific job executing them." Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan
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"I think our offensive line did an outstanding job. Going into the game, we wanted to get ourselves into manageable third down situations, we wanted to stay out of third and longs. I think we were able to stay out of those situations. As a result, we were able to convert some key first downs." Callahan on the offensive production
"We spend a lot of time in the offseason on the scheme. We took what we did last year, some things that worked well and we fine tuned it. The players really bought into what we were asking them to do. We moved some guys around and played them in different positions to best take advantage of their skills. The bottom line is that they believed in the plan and continued to go after it all the way through." Callahan on the defense
"Obviously it's a great win. We've been going at it for five years with them and its good as a fifth-year senior to get a win against the defending conference champions. It was a simple game plan, we executed the run to open up the pass. They had a lot of people in the box so we beat them over the top a couple of times. We were clicking on all cylinders today. Kudos to Coach Gallo for calling the plays and the offensive line for giving us a lot of protection." Kenji Bahar
- The 24-point halftime deficit was the largest KSU faced all season
- Tredway finished with a career-high 162 yards on seven receptions
- Senior wideout Brandon Batts had five receptions for 92 yards including a 55-yard bomb
- Monmouth outgained the Owls 290-140 in the first half, including allowing just 85 yards rushing
- The Hawks were 7-of-14 on third down while the defense held Kennesaw to just 3-of-12
- Berry's interception return for a touchdown was the first by a Hawk since Gerron Perndarvis' against Charleston Southern in 2017
- Da'Quan Grimes became the seventh current Hawk to eclipse the 100-tackle plateau, finishing with seven tackles to lead the Hawks
- The Hawks held a 16:21 to 13:39 time of possession advantage in the first half
- Monmouth's only other win over a ranked opponent came in the 2017 season when it topped No. 22 ranked Liberty at Kessler Stadium
- Bahar ran for a career-high 92 yards on six rushes, including the 65-yard score
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- The Hawks scored 28 second quarter points
- Punter Ryan Kost averaged 44.3 yards per punt
- Guerriero ran the ball 21 times for 77 yards and a touchdown
- Kennesaw State's quarterbacks were a combined 2-of-16 passing on the day
- Bryant led the Owls in rushing with eight carries for 90 yards, including the 50-yard touchdown
- The Hawks committed just two penalties for 20 yards and did not turn the ball over in the contest
Monmouth returns home to Kessler Stadium against North Alabama next Saturday at 12 PM. That game will air on ESPN+.