WEST LONG BRANCH: Liberty University's Flames looked like a power threat in the early minutes of their October 21 visit to Kessler Field at the Monmouth U campus. The Lynchburg, Virginia football team took off at the first possession of the game, overcoming a fumble and running for a TD as the Hawks looked a little shaky and pushed round. It soon was Liberty 7, Hawks 0.
That changed quickly as Hawks track team sprinter and Sophomore running back Pete Guerriero brought Monmouth fans to their feet cheering with his 95-yard kickoff return. He sped up the sideline, leaving defenders missing tackles as he dashed the length of the grid to score. A Matt Mosquera kick tied the score, 7-7.
Monmouth scored twice more in the first half on Eric Zokouri and Lonnie Moore 2 TDs. A Flames B.J. Farrow pass catch made the score 21 -13 as the extra point was missed.
Two more TDs by Zokouri and Guerriero for Monmouth and a Flames Frank Reddick TD closed the half at 35-19, Monmouth.
The Hawks kept up the offense back to play with two TD and extra points in 3Q.
But Liberty took over the reins with some very strong passing and with their defense out maneuvering the MU offense as the Flames racked up 21 points to find the Hawks ahead by 49 to 39 as the quarter ended.
One more score in Q4 meant a tough grid battle went to the home team, Monmouth 56 to Liberty 39. A wild scoring challenge on both sides of the ball, with the Hawks holding a 6-1 season record and Liberty with a 3-4 win - lose.
Other notes were the new scoreboard was up and running for the first time. It is sensational, with action replays and live coverage close up. Cameras scanned the field action and the stands as well. A stadium of 4,235 seats was filled and the Blue and White Club section was a busy place.
The Mascots, Shadow for MU and Sparky for Liberty had the fans clapping to their stately presence. The entrance Sports Shop with Monmouth sports gear and memorabilia was in full swing with discounts for returning grads.
In the middle of the stadium seating was MU President Grey Dimenna, with a smile that gave the sunny day some competition. Needless to say, Coach Kevin Callahan had a bounce in his step walking to the clubhouse.
Final score Hawks, 56-39. Next home game is Presbyterian College on Nov. 4 at 1 p.m.