Late Monmouth rally cancels out football’s strong defensive effort

Justin Schaumberger, Contributing Writer

The Bison football team traveled to Kessler Stadium in West Long Branch, N.J. to face the Monmouth Hawks for a non-conference matchup on Oct. 13. The Orange and Blue fell by a score of 36-19 after giving up three late touchdowns.

The Monmouth team entered the contest averaging 32 points per game, but strong defense and special teams’ play allowed the Orange and Blue to provide some challenges to a high-powered Hawk’s team. The Bison matched the Hawks most of the game, yet the Hawks scored three touchdowns in the final six minutes to come away with the win.

The Bison started the game strong when running back Jared Cooper ’22 turned a short slant from quarterback Logan Bitikofer ’21 into a 74-yard touchdown, the longest completed pass for the Bison since the 2017 season.

Monmouth held a slim 9-6 lead at halftime. Safety Gerrit Van Itallie ’21 was a force on defense for the Bison and also made a big play on special teams as well. Van Itallie blocked two Monmouth punts, one of which occurred in the third quarter and was recovered in the endzone by Van Itallie for a touchdown.

“We schemed up the blocked punt perfectly,” Van Itallie said. “I was happy to be able to make a critical play in the game.”

The Bison showed great resilience as they were able to respond to two straight Monmouth touchdowns with two of their own to take a 19-16 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Bison, the Hawks were able to earn the final 20 points of the game to emerge victorious.

Despite the loss, numerous bright spots emerged for the Bison in the game. Adding to the contribution from Van Itallie were linebacker Matt Robinson ’19 and safety Brandon Benson ’21, who tied for a nine tackles. Benson also contributed and recovered one of the Bison’s three forced fumbles.

Cornerback Bryan Marine ’19 became the 12th Bison to reach double digit interceptions as he recorded his 10th of the season. Building on prior games, the Bison offense showed improvement by tying the team’s season high for points.

“Going forward, we have to eliminate turnovers. Our QB play must be more consistent. Our defense must minimize giving up big plays. We need to put sixty minutes on the field,” head coach Joe Susan said.

The Bison (1-6) will look to earn another win in their upcoming game against Lafayette (1-5) on Oct. 20 at 12 p.m., the Bison’s homecoming game.

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