Football Grounds Monmouth; Wins 30-29

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Jordan Plaut

It wasn’t easy, but the Raiders found a way to win.

Senior quarterback Greg Sullivan had 254 total yards and three touchdowns as #22 Colgate opened the 2010 season with a 30-29 win over Monmouth last Saturday night at Andy Kerr Stadium.

Sullivan was sharp throughout the game, completing 11 of 14 passes for 180 yards, while senior wide receiver Doug Rosnick led the team with seven receptions for a career-high 103 yards. Junior running back Nate Eachus rushed 30 times for 145 yards and a touchdown as the Raider offense collected a total of 424 yards and controlled the ball for 38 minutes.

While those kind of numbers are usually more than enough for a W, the Hawks did not go quietly into the Hamilton night.

Colgate (1–0) wasted no time getting on the board on their first drive of the game. After forcing a three–and–out, the Raiders marched down the field in just over four minutes. The drive was highlighted by first–year Daniel Cason’s first collegiate reception. The wideout pulled down a 36–yard pass from Sullivan in the middle of the field to move ‘Gate to the Monmouth 15–yard line. Eachus closed the drive, plunging into the end zone on a four–yard run to put the home team up, 7–0.

On the Raiders’ next possession, they converted again, increasing their lead to 14–0, though the drive was marked by a very close call. Stopped short on third down in the red zone, ‘Gate went for it on fourth–and–one and made it by a football length. That set up Sullivan for his 16–yard touchdown run.

Monmouth (0–1) opened the second quarter with good field position after a kickoff out–of–bounds placed the ball on the Hawks’ 40–yard line. A few plays later, quarterback Kyle Frazier hooked up with Chris Hogan on a 17-yard toss to slice the lead in half.

On their first possession of the second quarter, the Raiders took back three points on a career–best 31–yard field goal from sophomore Evan Colborne, making it 17–7.

Eachus was the focal point of the offense and rushed for a 35–yard gain on a third-and-inches play to get the ball to the three–yard line. But Monmouth held its ground and, thanks to a holding penalty, the Raiders were forced to settle for a field goal.

The ‘Gate defense held on Monmouth’s next possession, forcing a three–and–out. The series was punctuated by senior Lamont Sonds’ sack on third down, one of three for him on the night. Again, the Raiders drove into Hawks territory with ease, utilizing big pass plays and effective running from both Eachus and Sullivan. However, the drive was cut short in the red zone and Colborne’s miss from 36 yards out kept the lead at 10.

Colgate opened the second half with the ball and went 76 yards in nine plays to increase the lead to 23–7. After four straight rushes and a fourth–and–one conversion from Eachus, Sullivan hit a wide–open Rosnick for a 50–yard strike and a touchdown.

“Greg and I noticed they were playing a lot of man coverage so we tried to exploit them with some good man routes,” Rosnick said. “I told him I’d get open and he delivered a perfect ball to me.” The celebration didn’t last long, though, as Bobby Giles returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. The Hawks went for the two-point conversion, but failed.

On the following kickoff, the Raiders retaliated swiftly as junior Noah Jackson had a nice return for 51 yards. The drive got interesting on a third-and-one when broke up the middle for a big gain and the ball came loose. Luckily for the Raiders, Rosnick was there to scoop it up and, on the next play, Sullivan finished the drive with his second rushing touchdown of the night, putting the Raiders up 30–13. Without Rosnick, he wouldn’t have had the chance.

“Doug played like a senior. Doug played like a three-year starter. A lot of our seniors played that way,” Head Coach Dick Biddle said. “The touchdown is an important play, but Doug recovered the onside kick and Nate’s fumble. That’s three big plays right there that are crucial.”credits the coaches for preparing him.

“Our coaches really stress to get around the ball in case something like that happens. I ended up being in the right place at the wrong time. Nate was just trying to make a play, and I was able to save him when that fumble did occur.”

After the excitement, it was all Hawks. Monmouth grabbed a field goal, closing the gap to 14 points. On their next possession, the Hawks ran effectively on the ‘Gate defense, culminating in a 20–yard touchdown scamper by Andrew Mandeville.

Colgate had a chance to seal the game at the 4:21 mark, faced with a fourth–and–one at the Hawks 48. Eachus’ rush was stopped just short, giving Monmouth new life.

“I felt at that time that the strength of our team was offense and they had taken momentum and moved the ball in the fourth quarter…my thought was put the ball in offense’s hands, get the first down, run the clock out,” Biddle said. “Sometimes you get it, sometimes not. If we had played better defense before it would have been better to punt.”

Frazier was able to connect on 4th–and–long a few plays later, leading to a Tyler George touchdown catch with 1:34 remaining to make it a one-point game. Head Coach Kevin Callahan decided to go for two and the win but the attempt was stuffed short when senior Brad Keele met Mandeville on a quarterback sneak at the goal line, assuring the Raiders of a win and second straight season-opening victory over the Hawks.

The defensive performance, however, was not satisfactory according to Coach Biddle.

“We didn’t do a lot of tackling in fall practice and I think that showed. We need to work on containing the quarterback and minimize the mental mistakes. We just have to play better defensively. We’ll work on it.”

Still, the Raiders, especially Rosnick, will take the win.

“A win is a win, and we are a grind–em–out type team so an out–of–league win is just as important right now as a league game.”

The Raiders travel to Greenville, SC this weekend for an out-of-conference game against Furman. The Paladins won the last matchup between the schools,

taking down Colgate 42-21 in 2008.