Story and photo courtesy of Bryant Athletics
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Senior running back Jordan Brown's (Glastonbury, Conn.) four-yard touchdown plunge with 2:19 remaining gave the Bryant University football team a 27-24 victory over Monmouth on Saturday afternoon at Kessler Field.
Saturday's matchup was a back-and-forth affair that the Bulldogs (2-6, 2-4 NEC) found themselves on top of at the end. Bryant's three-point victory marked its first-ever victory over the Hawks (3-4, 2-2 NEC) in five tries.
It appeared with five minutes left, however, that the Bulldogs would taste defeat for the fifth time against the Hawks. Freshman Dom Kozlowski (Westford, Mass.) missed a potential game-tying field goal, his third miss of the game, and the Hawks took over with a chance to run the clock out. It didn't work out as planned, though, as Kyle Frazier's second-down pass was deflected by Jeff Covitz (Reading, Mass.) and then intercepted by Connor McNamara (Sandy Hook, Conn.). Five plays later, Brown plunged in from four yards out to give Bryant the lead.
Still, the Hawks had a chance to win the game thanks to a crazy play. On Monmouth's very next play, Frazier's pass to Neal Sterling slipped through his hands and into the hands of Brandon Dagnesses (Miami, Fla.). The freshman then raced for the corner of the endzone and dove to the pylon but it was ruled that he fumbled the ball into the endzone, giving the Hawks the ball back. Monmouth then converted on a fourth-and-seventh prayer pass to put the ball at the Bryant 47. Three players later it was fourth down again and Sam Sammons (Cypress Creek, Texas) was able to wrap up Frazier in the backfield to end the contest.
Bryant got off to a great start against the Hawks, building a 14-3 halftime lead. After forcing Monmouth into a three-and-out on its first possession, the Bulldog offense went to work, driving 67 yards in eight plays. Mike Westerhaus (Farmingville, N.Y.) hit Chad Ward (Delray Beach, Fla.) for 11 yards and then Ryan Barrett for 17 yards to put the ball at the MU 44. Three players later the Bulldogs faced a fourth-and-three and Westerhaus found Eloma Johnson (Franklin, Mass.) in the flat for an 11-yard gain. Two plays later, Brown used great blocking up front to scamper home from 17 yards.
An Eric Spillane 29-yard field goal got Monmouth within 7-3 but the Bulldogs were able to respond with a score right before the half ended. Starting at their own 16, the Black and Gold drove the 84 yards in 12 plays to take the 14-3 halftime lead. A holding penalty on a Brown 20-yard run seemed to stunt the drive but Ward's 25-yard reception picked up the yardage and more. Westerhaus then hit Ryan Barrett (Holliston, Mass.) for 25 yards to put the ball in MU territory and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on MU turned a big sack into a first down at 26. Westerhaus then found Harris in the corner of the endzone for a 19-yard TD. It was Harris's 20th career touchdown record, pushing him past Matt Tracey for the most in program history.
Monmouth came out strong in the second half, however, and made the Bulldogs work. After forcing a three-and-out from the Bulldogs, Monmouth needed just four plays to make it 14-10. Tristan Roberts hauled in a 21-yard pass and K.B. Asante got the ball inside the 10 with a 27-yard run. Frazier capped the drive with a four-yard keeper.
Bryant immediately responded with a little bit of luck. A 12-yard run and a 12-yard reception eliminated a second-and-20 and preceded a 47-yard strike from Westerhaus to Harris. The pass appeared to be intended for Barrett but it was over his head, but luckily for the Bulldogs, right into the hands of Harris who caught it and broke away from his defenders.
It was all Monmouth after that though as they scored the next 14 points to take a 24-21 lead. They drove 65 yards in 10 plays to score on an Asante 9-yard run immediately after the Harris catch and then benefited as the Bulldogs missed on a 22-yard field goal attempt. After the two teams traded punts, MU finally grabbed its first lead with a 92-yard drive. Frazier completed five consecutive passes on the drive including a 29-yard screen pass to Asante. Following a pair of completions to Sterling and Michael McLafferty, Frazier called his own number and scored from nine yards out to make it 24-21 with 8:23 remaining in the game.
Bryant, however, pushed right back on its next drive. Facing a fourth-and-one from their own 40, the Bulldogs gave the ball to the Brown and he wasn't tackled until 45 yards later. The drive stalled there, however, as the 36-yard field goal attempt missed wide. Bryant did not stop though as they intercepted the Frazier pass to set up the game-winning score.
Brown had his best game of the year, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Westerhaus surpassed the 300-yard mark for the second-straight week, completing 24-of-40 for 321 yards and a pair of scores. Harris hauled in five passes for 107 yards and two scores and Ward caught seven passes for 84 yards. Both Johnson and Barrett had career days, with Johnson making six catches for 44 yards.
The Bulldogs will now enjoy a bye week before welcoming Sacred Heart to Bulldog Stadium for Senior Day on Saturday, Nov. 3. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.