LEWISBURG, Pa. – Monmouth toppled the Bucknell football team, 35-13, in the first meeting between the teams on Saturday night at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.
Four different Hawks rushed for touchdowns, and Erik Zokouri enjoyed his first career 100-yard rushing game, to help Monmouth move to 4-1 on the season. With the loss, Bucknell will enter its bye week 2-3.
Monmouth took a 7-0 lead on its first drive, which was highlighted by a 46-yard catch by Jake Powell that advanced the Hawks to the Bison 15. Pete Guerriero capped the six-play, 79-yard drive by punching his way into the end zone from six yards out.
In the first quarter, Bucknell’s best opportunity to get on the board came after John Chiarolanzio found a wide-open Jack Horan in the middle of the field for a 76-yard gain. That play, the first of the Bison’s drive, took them from their nine-yard line to the Hawks’ 15.
But the Monmouth defense held fast, recording two tackles for a combined loss of six yards to push Bucknell back to the Hawk 21. While Chiarolanzio found Joey DeFloria for a seven-yard gain, the Bison came up nine yards short of a first down and opted to attempt a 31-yard field goal. But a bad snap forced John Burdick to attempt a pass, which was intercepted by Teddy Martinez.
Just six seconds into the second quarter, the Hawks extended their lead to 14-0. Reggie White Jr.’s three-yard touchdown reception completed a nine-play, 86-yard drive that began at the 3:58 mark of the first quarter after Bucknell’s failed field goal. During that drive, Zokouri had a 23-yard run and Kenji Bahar completed an 11-yard pass to White Jr., a 19-yard pass to Powell and a 20-yard pass to Zokouri.
The Bison got on the board at the 10:05 mark of the second quarter. After Bryan Marine jumped in front of a Bahar screen pass and returned it 10 yards to the Monmouth four-yard line, Chiarolanzio found Marcus Ademilola for a three-yard touchdown.
The Hawks responded with a touchdown on their next drive. After Zokuri ran the ball four-straight times for a combined 34 yards, Vinny Grasso broke free for a 39-yard touchdown run with 8:13 on the clock.
Bucknell had an opportunity to trim Monmouth’s advantage after Brice Sydnor forced a fumble and Joe Lauro recovered it on the Bison 29 with 2:56 left in the half. On the first play of that drive, DeFloria scampered for an 18-yard gain to the Bucknell 47. Two plays later, Alex Twiford hauled in a 16-yard pass that advanced the Bison to the Hawk 33. But they were ultimately forced to punt after Sam Pierce sacked Chiarolanzio for a loss of six yards and Dejaun Cooper tied up Chad Freshnock for a three-yard loss.
The Hawks controlled the third quarter, holding the Bison to just 15 yards of offense and scoring two touchdowns to build a 35-6 advantage. First, Devell Jones capped a 10-play, 59-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown rush at the 8:17 mark. Then, with 2:19 to play in the quarter, Bahar scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper to complete a nine-play, 38-yard drive.
Marquis Carter completed the game’s scoring, rushing three yards for his first career touchdown with 11:26 left to play in the game.
Chiarolanzio finished with a career-best 204 yards on 19 for 34 passing. Horan led the Bison with a career-high 95 yards on four catches.
Brandon Benson led the Bison with a career-best 15 tackles (six solo), matching the team season-high set by Ben Richard against Sacred Heart on Sept 23. The freshman also posted Bucknell’s lone sack, forcing a fumble in the process.
For Monmouth, Zokouri finished with 134 yards on 21 carries. Jones was next with 57 on 10 carries. Bahar threw for 171 yards and one touchdown on 13 for 21 passing. Powell was his favorite target, totaling 85 yards on four catches.
Defensively, Mike Basile paced the Hawks with seven tackles (four solo). The STATS Preseason First Team All-American became Monmouth’s all-time leader in tackles during the game.
The Hawks totaled 463 yards of total offense, 289 on the ground and 171 through the air. The Bison finished with 251 yards of total offense, 204 of which were through the air. Monmouth led in time of possession (31:55 to 28:05).
The Bison are off next weekened. They open a three-game road swing on Saturday, Oct. 14 when they take on Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. at 1:30 p.m.
The Bison defense posted an interception and two fumble recoveries. Benson forced his first career fumble while Abdullah Anderson and Lauro’s fumble recoveries were the first of their careers. Marine’s interception was his first of the season and seventh of his career.
Horan’s 76-yard reception was five more than his previous career long, set on an 71-yard touchdown catch against Marist on Sept. 3, 2016. It was 34 yards longer than Chiarolanzio’s previous longest pass, set against Colgate on Oct. 15, 2016.
Ademilola’s touchdown reception was the second of his career. His first came at Lafayette on Oct. 31, 2015, a 56 yarder that was the longest touchdown catch by a Bison that season.
Carter’s touchdown was the first by a Bison freshman in 2017.
Benson’s sack was the first recorded by a Bison since their game against Holy Cross on Sept. 9. Bucknell was held without a sack at William & Mary and against Sacred Heart.
Alex Pechin’s first punt of the game was a 57 yarder that pinned Monmouth on its four-yard line. It was his 11th punt of 50 or more yards in 2017, breaking his previous single-season high of 10 set back in 2015.
Entering this game, Bucknell hadn’t allowed 200 rushing yards in 2017. The Bison held Marist (24), Holy Cross (134), William & Mary (176) and Sacred Heart (95) all under 200.
At halftime, Monmouth led Bucknell in total offense, 302-155. The Hawks recorded 170 yards on the ground through two quarters, just six shy of the highest total the Bison had allowed in 2017.
Entering this game, Monmouth was ranked 34th in the country in rushing offense, averaging 188.3 yards per game.