Bryant Comeback Falls Short at Monmouth

Bryant news release…

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Monmouth’s Reggie White Jr. hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass with 1:16 remaining and the Bryant University football team was unable to covert on a last-second pass from the 12 yard line, falling to the Hawks 31-24 on a rainy and windy Saturday afternoon at Kessler Field.

The Hawks (2-3) have now won six of the seven all-time meetings with the Bulldogs (2-2). Each of the last four games in the series have been decided by seven points or less.

With the game tied at 24-24, the Hawks took over at their own 40 with 2:04 to go. Monmouth picked up a first down to midfield before QB Cody Williams threw a screen pass to White Jr. The sophomore made a man miss and then exploded down the sideline for a 50-yard score with just 1:16 remaining.

Bryant made one last push to tie the game but came up short. Junior Taylor Barthelette (East Longmeadow, Mass.) made a 15-yard catch to start the drive and then made another 11-yard grab on third down to put the ball at the MU 40. Senior Ricardo McCray (Middletown, R.I.) took the ball to the MU 12 with a 16-yard reception but the Bulldogs were stopped there. Junior Dalton Easton (Miami, Fla.) threw incomplete into the endzone twice, the second coming as time expired.

Saturday’s game was back-and-forth from the beginning. Monmouth was first to strike, jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The Hawks drove 75 yards on 10 plays on their first drive and 85 yards on 12 plays on their second drive. An encroachment penalty on 4th-and-1 gave the Hawks a first down at the Bryant 30 and Williams capped the drive with a 22-yard run.

Williams used his legs to keep Monmouth’s next scoring drive alive as well, scrambling nine yards on 4th-and-6. He then connected with White Jr. in the back of the endzone on the very next play to make it 14-0.

Bryant responded with a strong second quarter to send the game into the half tied. The Bulldogs’ first scoring drive started after a solid defensive stop late in the first quarter. McCray opened the drive with a 14-yard run and then capped it two plays later with a 38-yard touchdown run down the far sideline. The touchdown run was the 18th of his career, moving him into sole possession of fifth all-time at Bryant.

Junior Aaron Gilmer (North Easton, Mass.) then intercepted a Williams pass on the next Monmouth possession to give the Black and Gold the ball near midfield. It was the first career interception for Gilmer. Seven plays later, the Bulldogs were in the endzone. Juniors Keenan Thompson (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and Barthelette had big receptions to move the ball inside the MU 20 and senior Jose Depadua (Frederick, Md.) finished the drive with a 19-yard touchdown reception.

In the second half, Monmouth was able to grab the lead behind a 40-yard field goal from Matt White.

The teams then traded big special teams plays. Bryant pinned Monmouth at its own 1 yard line late in the third quarter and senior Abri Tate (Fort Mill, S.C.) made a tackle in the endzone for the safety.

Monmouth then pinned the Bulldogs at their own 1 and intercepted an Easton pass and returned it for a touchdown to make it 24-16 with 11:32 to play.

The Black and Gold wasted little time answering, scoring just 20 seconds later. On the first play of the next drive, Easton threw deep down field and senior Chad Ward (Delray Beach, Fla.) made the catch and raced 68 yards for the touchdown. Easton then found Barthelette in the endzone to covert the two-point conversion and tie the game.

The Hawks out-gained the Bulldogs 426-365 on the afternoon and held the ball for 33:21. Easton finished 16-of-32 for 256 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. McCray rushed for 94 yards on 15 carries and Ward made four catches for 105 yards. Defensively, Charles Keenan (Tyngsborough, Mass.) led the Black and Gold with a career-high 11 tackles.

Bryant will open up Northeast Conference play next weekend when it travels to New Britain, Conn., to take on Central Connecticut. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.