One team made a strong bid for a top seed and another did all it could to nail down a playoff berth of its own as Monmouth and Kennesaw State posted huge wins to close the 2019 Big South Conference season.
Monmouth is assured of a trip to the playoffs after finishing conference play at a perfect 6-0 and the automatic bid to represent the BSC in the national playoffs. Kennesaw State, meanwhile, finished one game behind in the league standings with a 5-1 record after losing to Monmouth 45-21 earlier this month.
Charleston Southern finished the season in third place with a 4-2 record and Campbell wrapped its season up with a 3-3 conference ledger and a fourth-place finish.
The rest of the teams in the conference all finished below .500. Hampton, Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian all finished with 1-5 records in the conference. North Alabama, which is transitioning from D-II and not eligible for the conference title, ended its season last week with a 4-7 overall record.
Monmouth Wraps Up Perfect Conference Season
The stars shined bright in the afternoon.
Kenji Bahar and Pete Guerriero combined for 582 yards of offense as Monmouth completed the 2019 regular season with a convincing 48-13 win over visiting Hampton on Saturday.
The win improved the Hawks to 6-0 in Big South play and 10-2 overall as they head into the FCS playoffs as the automatic qualifier from the BSC. Hampton, meanwhile, fell to 1-5 in the conference and 5-7 overall.
Bahar finished the day with 364 passing yards after completing 22 of 30 passes and throwing for four touchdowns, all four to different receivers. Guerriero, the reigning STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Week, added a career-high 240 yards rushing on 16 carries and a pair of scores. He averaged 15 yards per carry on the afternoon and eclipsed his previous single-game best of 237 yards with his performance against the Hawks. Guerriero also added two pass receptions for 66 yards in the convincing win.
Bahar and Guerriero are both on the Walton Payton Award watchlist as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Hampton drew first blood when Jadakis Bonds hauled in a pass from Deondre Francois and turned it into a 37-yard scoring play at 12:46 of the opening period.
Monmouth, however, would respond by scoring the next 28 points of the game and take control of the contest.
Bahar threw the first of his four touchdowns in the game when he hit Lonnie Moore on a six-yard throw at the 10:33. It capped a 74-yard drive that took just five plays to tie the game. Bahar hit Gueriero on a seven-yard scoring pass with 31 seconds left in the opening period to put the Hawks in front 14-7.
Guerriero got loose on an 81-yard touchdown run in the second quarter as Monmouth went 97 yards in just two plays to give the Hawks a 21-7 advantage at the 13:29 mark of the second quarter. A short time later Bahar connected with Quentin Parham on a 31-yard scoring play with 6:28 remaining before intermission.
Hampton scored for what would be the final time at the 3:19 mark of the second period on a pass from Francois to KeyRon Catlett from 23 yards that pulled the Pirates to within 28-13. It was the only catch of the day for Catlett. Monmouth’s Matt Mosquera’s field goal from 38 yards was good for a 31-13 halftime lead.
Guerriero scored his second touchdown on the ground early in the third period from 38 yards out and teammate Terrance Greene turned a pass from Bahar into a 40-yard score to push the advantage to 45-13 heading into the final period. Mosquera added a 30-yard field goal early in the final quarter to close the scoring.
Brandon Harris come on in relief of Bahar and completed five of seven passes for 53 yards as Monmouth racked up 417 yards through the air. The Hawks also ran the ball 33 times for 279 yards in the game and finished with 696 yards of total offense.
Greene paced the receivers with 120 yards on six catches, while Moore had a team-high eight catches for 67 yards and Parham ended the day with 56 yards after catching three passes.
Shai McKenzie was the lone bright spot for Hampton on the afternoon. He rushed 16 times for 167 yards. But the rest of the Pirate runners managed just 23 additional yards against the Hawk defense.
Francois completed just five of 17 passes on the day for 95 yards and the two touchdowns. Austin Bradley completed two of his three passes in the game for six yards. Bond finished the day with five catches for 58 yards for the Hawks.
Kennesaw Strikes Quick, Rolls 42-7
A quick start like few others provided the necessary spark as Kennesaw State kept its postseason hopes alive with a convincing 42-7 win over visiting Gardner-Webb on Saturday.
Quarterback Tommy Bryant scored on a 15-yard run just 44 seconds into the game to give the Owls the quick 7-0 lead on the Bulldogs. For Bryant, it was the first of four rushing touchdowns on the day. The short two-play drive was set up by a Cincere Mason interception on the first play of the game that he returned to the Bulldog-31.
Gardner-Webb managed to tie the game midway through the period when Kalen Whitlow connected with Izaiah Gathings for a 15-yard scoring play. KSU would regain the lead early in the second quarter on a one-yard run by Bryant to take a 14-7 lead at the intermission.
The second half was virtually all Kennesaw State. The Owls scored the next 28 points to take command of the contest.
Bryant added to his big day with his second one-yard run of the afternoon midway through the third period and Jalen Jackson returned a blocked punt 15 yards for another touchdown as the Owls increased their lead to 28-7 with 3:23 to go in the period. The block was credited to Adesola Abisoye.
Bryant scored for the third time in the game with a three-yard run in the final quarter and Bronson Rechsteiner scored on a 65-yard gallop with just under six minutes left in the game for the final points of the day for KSU, which led 42-7 at that point.
Whitlow threw a 28-yard scoring pass to Devron Harper with 2:33 left in the game to close the scoring.
Bryant ended the day with a career-high 154 rushing yard on 22 carries. He completed three of six pass attempts for 28 yards. Rechsteiner finished with 128 yards on just 10 carries on the afternoon for the Owls who finished the game with 322 yards on the ground.
Gardner-Webb was limited to just 39 yards rushing by the KSU defense. Narii Gaither was the top rusher for the Bulldogs with 25 yards on three carries, but the rest of G-W backfield combined for 14 yards on 21 carries.
Whitlow finished with 193 yards through the air after completing 21 of his 36 passes and the two touchdowns. Gathings caught a team-best 11 passes for 117 yards his one TD.
Chambers Leads Bucs Past Campbell 41-31
Charleston Southern ended the season on an impressive run by winning its fourth consecutive game with a 41-31 win at home over Campbell on Saturday.
The win improved the Buccaneers to 4-2 in the Big South Conference and 6-6 on the season. CSU started to winning streak after falling to Monmouth 35-13 on Oct. 26.
Jack Chambers led the way for the Bucs by throwing for four touchdowns, including two in the first quarter as CSU jumped to a quick 14-0 advantage. His first scoring toss came with 12:13 remaining in the first period when he connected with Demetrius Jones for 11 yards. It was the only catch of the game for Jones. Chambers added his second TD pass just 3:32 later by hitting Kameron Brown on a 26-yard scoring play. Brown would end the day with three receiving touchdowns.
Campbell would score its first points of the game late in the first period on a 15-yard pass from Hajj-Malik Williams to Jalen Kelsey as the Fighting Camels would close to within 14-7.
CSU would get a pair of field goals from Alex Usry from 33 and 34 yards in the second period sandwiched around a two-yard pass from Chambers to Brown for his second score of the day to build a comfortable 27-7 lead with 3:26 remaining in the first half. CJ Freeman’s 31-yard run with 2:24 remaining pulled Campbell to within 27-14 at the intermission.
Williams opened the scoring in the second half by running 11 yards for a touchdown with 10:58 left to go in the period to pull Campbell to within 27-21.
The Bucs would move back in front by double digits just over one minute later when Jamari Dunbar capped a four-play drive that covered 51 yards by scoring on a one-yard run with 9:30 left in the period and a 34-21 lead for CSU.
Colin Gary booted a 32-yard field later in the period and Williams scored on a six-yard run on the last play of the quarter as the Camels pulled to within 34-31 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
Brown scored his third touchdown of the game at 9:18 of the fourth quarter as CSU moved in front 41-31 and Dennis Fisher picked off a Williams pass late in the game to seal the victory for the Buccaneers.
Chambers finished with 217 passing yards on 17 of 29 passing on the afternoon. He also added 89 yards on the ground on nine carries. Kendrick Bell paced the Bucs with 123 rushing yard on 22 carries and Garris Schwarting led the receivers with five catches for 124 yards, but was kept out of the end zone on the afternoon. Brown finished with three catches for 32 yards.
Williams accounted for 218 of Campbell’s 382 yards of total offense. He completed 11 of his 23 passes for 144 yards and the one touchdown and the one interception. Williams also managed a team-high 74 rushing yards on 17 carries. Freeman finished the game with 32 yards on seven carries and the one score. Kelsey led the Campbell receivers with five catches for 75 yards.
Blue Hose End BSC Stay With Huge Victory
The curtain closed on Presbyterian’s stay as a member of Big South football with an impressive 52-14 non-conference win over NAIA St. Andrew on Saturday at Bailey Memorial Stadium.
The Blue Hose, who finished conference play one week earlier, closed the year with a 1-5 league record on finished with a 2-10 overall record. St. Andrews, a member of the Mid-South Conference, closed the year at 5-5 overall after finished 5-1 in conference play. The 52 points put on the board in the season finale were the most by Presbyterian in a game since scoring 69 in a win over Bluefield on Sept. 6, 2014.
Presbyterian scored the first 28 points of the game and never looked back on the way to its second wins in three games to close the year.
Quarterback Tyler Huff completed a pass to Keith Pearson from eight yards out for the first score of the game at 11:25 of the first quarter to give the Blue Hose the early advantage. Huff later passed 49 yards to Pearson for the second score of the game as PC moved out to a 14-0 advantage at the 9:24 mark of the opening period. Jarius Jeter added a three-yard scoring run later in the period to give the Blue Hose a 21-0 lead at the first break.
Noah Suber recovered a St. Andrews fumble in the end zone for a TD and a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter before the visitors managed to crack the scoreboard. Huff scored on a five-yard run with 4:43 remaining in the second period to extend the Blue Hose lead to 35-7 lead.
PC would tack on 17 more points in the third quarter to seal the win.
Parker Maddrey kicked a 20-yard field goal at 8:59 of the quarter while Zola Davis and Jeter would add rushing touchdowns to account for the scoring output in the period. Davis scored on a 37-yard with 6:06 remaining and Jeter would score for the second time in the game on a 19-yard scamper with 4:21 left in the quarter.
Huff finished the day with 174 passing yards. Davis finished the game with a team-high 103 rushing yards after carrying the ball 12 times, while Jeter, who also carried 12 time, added 99 yards of his own in the winning effort. He also become the first Blue Hose player to score two rushing touchdowns in a game since Ben Cheek scored three times against Gardner-Webb late last season. Pearson ended the game with a career-high 10 catches for 138 yards and established a new PC D-1 record with 71 catches this season.
Jeter and Pearson were not the only Presbyterian players to end the season with their names in the record book.
Colby Campbell became the new single-season record holder in Big South history for tackles in a season after notching 17 (11 solo) tackles, including three sacks in Saturday’s win. He was also credited with 4.5 tackles for loss in the win to give him 150 tackles on the season. He also set new school D-1 marks for solo tackles (70) in a season, while his three sacks improved his season total to nine on the season, another school mark for its D-1 history.
Presbyterian will become a member of the Pioneer Football League next season.
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.