Big South Conference Reviews: Week 11

Monmouth entrenched itself into the driver’s seat in the race for the Big South Conference championship with a big win over North Alabama on Saturday to remain unbeaten in league play. The Hawks can secure at least a share of the conference title with a win next weekend at Campbell, which also remains alive for the conference title. 

Campbell will have to regroup to keep its title hopes alive after dropping a key game against Kennesaw State, which rebounded for a lopsided loss to Monmouth the previous week to also remain in the hunt.

Do you seen any sort of lesson to be learned from the above scenario? It all means that anything can happen in the Big South Conference.

Monmouth enters next round of conference tilts with a perfect 4-0 record in league play. Kennesaw State and Campbell are both one game back with 3-1 records. The Hawks play at Campbell on Saturday, while the defending champion Owls travel to Hampton, Va. to take on the Pirates of Hampton University. 

The final week of the regular season sees Monmouth playing at Hampton and Kennesaw State at Gardner-Webb. Campbell, meanwhile, travels to Charleston Southern for its final game of the regular season. 

All three of the top teams in the Big South should advance to the FCS playoffs, but things may get a but dicey for the Fighting Camels should they falter in each of their final two contests.

Charleston Southern managed a move into fourth place in the conference standing with its win over Hampton this past weekend, while Presbyterian College won for the first time all year by knocking off Gardner-Webb, which just a few weeks ago, was also in the hunt for the conference championship.

See, anything can happen in the Big South.

Marquee: Owls Rebound Against Camels 

All eyes were on Kennesaw State to see how the Owls would respond with their backs against the wall as they hoped to stay alive in the hunt for a third straight conference championship.

The Owls passed the test with an exciting 38-35 win over Campbell on Saturday. And they did so with some efficient passing, something that has plagued the Owls this season.

QB Tommy Bryant passed for two touchdowns and ran for three more to spearhead the KSU attack on the day as KSU kept its conference championship – and playoff hopes alive. It was the seventh straight road win for KSU.

Bryant ran in from eight yards out midway through the second quarter and connected with Shaquil Terry from 20 yards out with just 30 seconds remaining in the first half to help pull KSU to within 21-17 at the intermission. A 43-yard field goal earlier in the period by Nathan Robertson put the Owls on the board for the first time.

The third quarter was all Kennesaw as the Owls gained the lead for the first time in the game by scoring two touchdowns in the span of 61 seconds and putting the pressure squarely on the shoulders of the Camels.

Bryant gave KSU the lead with a two-yard run with 3:34 to go in the period that moved the Owls in front 24-21. He teamed with Terry for the second time in the game for a 21-yard TD pass with 2:33 to increase the lead to 31-21 with a little more than 15 minutes to go in the game. The go-ahead score was made possible by a Bryson Armstrong interception that set the Owls up on the Campbell-26 and KSU needed just one play to make the most of the situation.

Campbell did all it could to make things interesting down the stretch.

Cameron Davis’ three-yard run early in the final period allowed CU to close to within 31-28 with 12:38 remaining in the game.

That was when Bryant scored for the third time, this one coming from just one yard away, to increase the cushion to 38-28 with just over six minutes remaining on the clock. Caleb Sneed took a short pass from QB Hajj-Malik Williams from seven yards away for what turned out to be Campbell’s final points of the day.

Campbell had jumped to an early lead in the game when Johnathan Hawkins ran in from two yards out with 5:04 to go in the first quarter to put his team in front. Williams would rush for two touchdowns of his own in the second quarter to allow Campbell to stay close. He scored on runs of nine and five yards in the period.

Bryant finished the day with a team-high 105 rushing yards on 27 carries for KSU, which entered the game leading the nation in rushing with nearly 361 yards per game. The Owls finished the day well below that average after being held to 252 yards on 53 carries by Campbell. 

But it was perhaps the passing that caught the Camels off guard. Bryant completed five of seven passes, all of those completions going to Terry, for 91 yards and the two touchdowns.

Williams threw for 233 yards (15-33) and paced the Camels on the ground with 110 yards on 16 carries and two scores. Caleb Sneed caught six passes in the game for 99 yards to lead Campbell through the air.

Monmouth Remains Unbeaten in Big South

After dismantling Kennesaw State in impressive fashion a week ago many were expecting Monmouth to roll past North Alabama. 

It wasn’t easy, but a win is a win no matter how it is achieved. 

Kenji Bahar tossed five scoring passes as the Hawks defeated the Lions 49-38 on Saturday at home to remain undefeated in Big South Conference play. Along the way Bahar became the school’s all-time touchdown passing leader. His 15-yard pass to Lonnie Moore on the second scoring drive of the day for the Hawks gave Bahar 22 for the season to surpass the previous mark of 21 set by Brian Boland in 2005. His five touchdown passes against the Lions also moved Bahar past Boland (2003-06) for the career lead in that department with 62 … and counting.

The 11-point win by the Hawks was not nearly as close as the final score would indicate. After being tied 7-7 early in the second quarter, Monmouth would score 28 of the next 38 points of the game to build a commanding 35-17 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

After Bahar’s history-making toss to Moore with 7:09 to go in the first half, the Hawks began to blow the game open in the second half. Devell Jones ran in from three yards out early in the third quarter and Bahar later connected with Quentin Parham for 61 yards and found Moore again from 21 yards out to put the Hawkins in comfortable position on the scoreboard. 

Jaxton Carson and Christian Lopez scored TDs in the final period for the Lions to close the gap. Carson scored on a 40-yard pass from Lopez early in the final period before Lopez ran one in from five yards away with 19 seconds to go in the game. The Lions recovered obligatory onside kick and Lopez took a seven-yard pass from Andre Little and turned it into another score as time expired.

Bahar finished the day with 319 passing yards on 27 of 36 passing to go along with his five scoring tosses. Terrance Greene caught nine passes on the day for 125 yards and one TD. His score came with 2:16 left in the opening period for the first points of the day. Parham added 76 yards on three catches and Moore ended the day with five receptions for 62 yards. Six different receivers caught at least two passes on the day from Bahar.

Monmouth running back Pete Guerriero led the ground attack with 92 yards on 20 carries for the Hawks.

Lopez completed 24 of his 36 passes on the day for 383 yards and three scores. Cortez Hall and Dexter Boykin also hauled in scoring passes from Lopez. Hall’s score came from two yards out in the second quarter and helped tie the game at 7-7, while Boykin scored on an 11-yard pass just before the end of the third quarter. Hall finished the day with two catches for a team-best 80 yards, while Carson also caught a pair of passes for 54 yards and the one score. Boykins accounted for 52 yards on his three catches.

Ja’won Howell led the Lions with 30 yards rushing on just two carries, but the rest of the Lions could only muster 25 yards on 26 carries in the game.

Presbyterian Ends Long Drought

It was a long time coming, but Presbyterian College finally found itself on the right side of the ledger when the final horn sounded Saturday at Bailey Memorial Stadium in Clinton, S.C.

The Blue Hose forced four Gardner-Webb turnovers and converted three of those into 21 points on the way to a 24-14 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday. The win snapped a 16-game losing streak for Presbyterian dating back to last season.

Jarius Jeter scored on a two-yard run that capped an 80-yard drive just before the end of the third quarter to give the Blue Hose a 17-14 lead. 

That drive finished a wild sequence of plays that began when G-W’s Robert McKoy intercepted a Tyler Huff pass and returned it to the PC-1 before fumbling. The Blue Hose recovered the loose ball in the end zone resulting in the ball being placed at their own 20-yard line with a fresh set of downs on the new possession.

Huff delivered the final blow with a four-yard scoring run of his own in early in the final period to close out the scoring.

The game-winning drive was set up by an interception by Rod Haygood that set up the Blue Hose in excellent position at the G-W 35.

The Blue Hose defense did its part by keeping Gardner-Webb out of the end zone the entire second half as Presbyterian won for the first time since a 10-0 win over NAIA-member Lindsey Wilson on Sept. 27, 2018.

Parker Maddrey booted a short 27-yard field goal to give the hosts a 3-0 lead with 4:58 remaining in the first quarter. The Bulldogs moved in front on a pass from Kalen Whitlow to Izaiah Gathings that covered 10 yards at the 9:22 mark of the second period that gave G-W a 7-3 advantage.

The Blue Hose responded less than six minutes later when Huff found Dohnte Meyers for a 12-yard pass that put them back in front 10-7 with 3:31 left in the opening half. G-W would grab what turned out the by its final lead of the game 59 seconds before halftime when A.J. Moses scored from one yard out to put the Bulldogs in front 14-10 at the intermission.

Huff had a big day for the Blue Hose. He finished with 231 yards of total offense after completing 15 of 24 passes for 145 yards and the one scoring toss to Meyers. He also led his team in rushing with 86 yards on 15 carries and another score. Jeter finished with 32 yards on 14 carries.

Mack Simmons led the Blue Hose with 56 receiving yards on three catches, while Keith Pearson and Meyers combined for 11 receptions and 86 more yards. Pearson had a team-high six catches on the day for 54 yards and Meyers finished the day with five catches and 32 yards.

The Blue Hose defense held the Bulldogs to just 36 yards on the ground in the game. Jaylin Cagle carried 18 times for 61 yards to pace Gardner-Webb in that department. Whitlow, meanwhile, finished with 138 passing yards after completing 16 of 24 passes in the game. Backup QB Keegan Smith added 104 yards after completing nine of his 15 attempts in the game.

Gathings and teammate Devron Harper both finished with 10 catches on the day for the Bulldogs. Gathings led the way with 120 yards, while Harper’s receptions went for 66 yards.

Buccaneers Outduel Pirates 45-24 in Overtime

Sixty minutes was not enough to determine a victor, so Shaundre Mims made certain his team came away with the triumph in overtime.

Mims led a spirited Charleston Southern defense after regulation as the Buccaneers emerged with a 27-20 win over Hampton on Saturday in Charleston. The win improved CSU to 2-2 in Big South play and 4-6 on the season. Hampton, meanwhile, fell to 1-3 in the conference and 5-5 on the year with the setback.

Darius Douglas threw 24 yards to Garris Schwarting on a third-and-nine on the first possession of overtime to give the Bucs the lead. It was just the second lead of the game for the Buccaneers.

That was when Mims and Crew stepped up to hold the advantage.

Mims had two of his four sacks in the game in the overtime session. On the first play of overtime he sacked Deondre Francois for a five-yard loss and moments later his strip-sack on fourth-and-15 was recovered by Anton Williams to close the curtain on the victory.

Hampton started out strong in the game. Francois found Jadakis Bonds for passing touchdowns on each of the first two possessions of the game. The first covered 33 yards to give Hampton a 7-0 lead with 11:03 remaining in the first quarter. That tandem hooked up moments later from just five yards out to give the Pirates a 13-3 lead with 3:15 to go in the first period.

CS’s Darius Douglas’ one yard run late in the second quarter pulled the Buccaneers to within 13-10 at halftime. His 17-yard run with 4:15 left in the third period gave the Buccaneers their first lead of the contest at 17-13.

Francois found Bonds for the third time in the game as the Pirates regained the lead 20-17 one a three-yard toss with 8:26 remaining in regulation. Alex Usry’s 37-yard field goal with just over four minutes remaining tied the game 20-20 and set the stage for the dramatic finish.

Douglas completed 10 of 21 passes in the game for 174 yards and added a team-best 45 yards on the ground after carrying 13 times against the Pirates. Demetrius Jones caught three passes for 117 yards in the game.

Francois racked up 298 through the air after completing 26 of 47 passes and the three scoring strikes to Bonds, who finished with 10 receptions for 91 yards.

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