It was Colgate’s first home night game in program history, and while it certainly did not go off without a hitch, the result was a positive one for the Raiders. Colgate showed that it was not going to let a newly revamped offensive line slow down its run attack, as the Raiders opened the season with a 35-23 victory over the Monmouth Hawks.
Monmouth received good field position to start the game and eventually reached the Colgate 35. However, on third-and-one, Monmouth running back David Sinisi was tackled in the backfield for a three-yard loss, thanks to the efforts of senior defensive tackle Paul Mancuso and senior linebacker Garrington Spence. On the next play, Monmouth punter Jack Daniels got off a great kick that was downed at the Colgate two.
Backed up on their own goal line, there was a lot that could have gone wrong for the Raiders. Luckily, the result was a great season-opening drive, as Colgate drove 98 yards downfield for a score. During the drive, sophomore running back Nate Eachus broke off a 13-yard run on third-and-six, which brought the ball down to the Monmouth one. Eachus finished the drive off on the next play to put Colgate up 6-0. First-year Evan Colborne came on and made the extra point.
Monmouth though, answered right back. The Hawks’ Mike Avent broke off a 34-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, which gave Momnouth the ball at midfield to start the drive. 10 plays later, Sinisi capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run that knotted the game at seven after the PAT.
The Raiders responded by snatching the lead right back after an amazing nine-yard pinpoint pass from junior quarterback Greg Sullivan to senior wide out Pat Simonds in the back corner of the end zone.
After the extra point, Colgate had a 14-7 lead, but once again the Raiders allowed a big return by Avant, this time to the Monmouth 47. Two plays later, thanks to some sloppy tackling by the Raiders, the Hawks scored on a short pass from quarterback Andrew Mandeville to Sinisi that turned into a 50-yard touchdown. However, a missed extra point by kicker Eric McCutchen left Colgate with a 14-13 advantage.
Both of Monmouth’s first two scores were set-up by poor kickoff coverage, a problem that was not lost on Head Coach Dick Biddle.
“There were several issues,” Coach Biddle said. “We weren’t getting deep kicks. You also can’t really simulate kickoff coverage in practice. They [Monmouth] also have some good athletes, and we got out of position. It’s obviously something we’ve got to work on.”
Neither offense mustered another first down until Monmouth’s final drive of the half, which ended when McCutchen barely made a 23-yard field goal to give the Hawks a 16-14 lead going into the break.
At halftime, a power outage occurred at Andy Kerr Stadium that made both the scoreboard and the lights inoperable. After a 30-minute delay, power was eventually restored and the second half got underway.
Both teams went three-and-out to start the second frame. However, on its second possession of the half, Colgate finally got the offense rolling, and drove all the way down to the Monmouth 32, where they decided to go for it on fourth-and-one. Eachus came up huge, and broke free for a 23-yard sprint, which took the ball down to the Monmouth nine. Colgate moved up to the four thanks to a facemask penalty at the end of the run. Eachus got all four yards on the next play to give the Raiders a 21-16 lead after the PAT.
The Raiders really got momentum rolling in their favor on the ensuing kickoff, when Monmouth’s Mike Roeder muffed a short and high kick from Colborne. Colborne was kicking short to help with coverage, and the muff was an added bonus. Colgate’s Zach Lasavage recovered the ball in great field position at the Monmouth 36. Two plays later Eachus broke off a 35-yard run to give Colgate a 28-16 lead after the PAT. Unfortunately, Eachus left the game after the beautiful run. Eachus had sustained a rib injury earlier in the contest, and he told The Maroon-News that he expects to miss one or two games for the Raiders.
With 7:24 left on the clock Colgate put the game away, when Sullivan connected on a 28-yard pass to Simonds to give Colgate a 35-16 lead after the PAT. Monmouth did muster another touchdown, on a trick pass from Sinisi to Tyler George, but Colgate went on to win 35-23.
Despite leaving early, Eachus was the star for the Raiders, rushing for 139 yards and three scores. Eachus credited a good offseason for Colgate’s success on the ground.
“I think we had a really physical camp and that helped us build up a lot of confidence, even though we had almost all new starters on the offensive line,” Eachus said.
Sullivan was solid as well, amassing 83 yards on the ground and 136 in the air, while throwing two touchdowns. On defense, the Raiders were led by Garrington Spence with eight tackles.
Monmouth running back, and Walter Payton award contender, David Sinisi ran for 102 yards and compiled 56 receiving yards. He also passed for, ran for, and caught a touchdown. However, he just couldn’t do it alone, as Monmouth complied just 79 yards through the air on plays not involving Sinisi.
Colgate will be under the lights again this Saturday as they play host to Stony Brook at 6 p.m. at Andy Kerr Stadium. Colgate will be out for revenge, and a 2-0 start, as they try to get back at the Seawolves for a 42-26 loss on Long Island last season. The loss to Stony Brook was in the season opener, and the team was playing without star running back Jordan Scott. This year, they will be without Eachus. Head Coach Dick Biddle doesn’t expect this year’s team to put last year’s loss out of their minds.
“If you’re competitive you always think about it,” Coach Biddle said referring to last year’s loss. “Were actually in a similar situation to last year, we’ll be going into the game without our starting running back.”
Hopefully for the Raiders, the results will be much different.