(STATS) – The competitive effort at Montana was fun. The overtime victory over Albany was thrilling. Those first three Big South Conference wins were important.
Still, no matter what Monmouth had done for the first two months of the season, nothing would carry the magnitude of Saturday’s visit to nemesis Kennesaw State. It was the opportunity the Hawks anticipated for a year, and their 45-21 rout of the No. 5-ranked Owls left no doubt as the STATS FCS Team of the Week grabbed first place.
“A great win for our team and our program and I couldn’t be happier for the guys on this team,” said 27th-year coach Kevin Callahan, whose program had never beaten a higher-ranked opponent. “This is something they’ve been working towards since last winter, all through the spring and the summer.
“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 (7-2, 4-0) finished second to Kennesaw in the conference standings each of the past two seasons and entered the matchup 0-4 all-time against the Owls by a decisive 175-65 margin, including 51-14 last November. The Owls had won 17 straight home games in the regular season.
Monmouth took control by scoring 42 unanswered in a 21-minute span of the second and third quarters. The Hawks held the Owls’ triple option offense in check while building a 45-7 lead, but the best defense also was a powerful offense. Fifth-year senior quarterback Kenji Bahar fueled it, finishing with a career-high 424 yards of total offense, and in the third quarter he threw a 92-yard touchdown pass to Zach Tredway and went untouched for a 65-yard score.
Cornerback Tymere Berry’s 65-yard interception return for a touchdown highlighted the defensive effort, but the unit was best reflected by linebacker Da’Quan Grimes’s 100th career tackle because it gave the Hawks seven current players in the century club.
HONORABLE MENTION: Holy Cross (24-17 win over Lehigh); New Hampshire (28-20 win over No. 11 Villanova); No. 16 North Carolina A&T (22-20 win over South Carolina State); San Diego (49-7 win over Drake); No. 3 Weber State (36-17 win over No. 6 Sacramento State)