Big Second Half Lifts No. 13 Monroe Mustangs Football over Hudson Valley in Return to New Rochelle
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y., September 25, 2021 – After getting off to a slow start and falling behind early, the No. 13-ranked Monroe College Mustangs football team rattled off 35 straight points, 28 of which came in the second half, to defeat Hudson Valley Community College by a score of 35-3 Saturday afternoon in the Mustangs' return to their home turf at Joseph F. Fosina Field. The Mustangs improve to 2-0 on the year, while the Vikings fall to 1-2.
Things got off to an unexpected shaky start for the Mustangs. After driving 68 yards on the opening drive down to Hudson Valley's seven-yard line, Idrissa Nikiema's field-goal attempt was blocked.
Hudson Valley put together a lengthy drive following the blocked kick, aided by numerous costly penalties by the Mustangs. After being stopped at the Monroe 21, Frederick Callo made a 39-yard field goal to put the Vikings ahead, 3-0, with 3:09 left in the first quarter.
The Mustangs ran into some more bad fortune on the next drive, as Troy Booker had the ball punched out in Mustang territory, turning it over to the Vikings on the 38-yard line. Some penalties and strong defense by Monroe pushed Hudson Valley backwards on the next drive, eventually forcing a punt.
After both teams punted on the next two drives, the Mustangs took over on Hudson Valley's 33-yard line after a 17-yard return by Nikiema. A pass interference by the Vikings put the Mustangs on the 20-yard line, and then a nine-yard run by Booker got them down to the 11. From there, Shelton Applewhite Jr. connected with Halim Dixon-King for an 11-yard touchdown, putting the Mustangs ahead, 7-3.
The Mustangs kicked off to open the second half and quickly forced a three-and-out to get the ball back for their first possession of the third quarter. After getting a first down, Applewhite hit Dixon-King right up the seam, where he outraced the defense for a 58-yard touchdown. The ensuing point-after attempt was blocked, but the Mustangs proved their lead to 13-3.
Monroe forced another quick punt before going on an extended scoring drive. Pinned deep in their own territory, facing a 3rd-and-18, Applewhite found Jamarii Robinson for 28 yards to earn a first down. A 17-yard pass to Tavon Granison was good for another first, and a 23-yard completion to Robinson later in the drive gave Monroe 1st-and-goal on the five-yard line. With 3rd-and-goal on the one, Applewhite hit Alan Presler crossing out of the backfield for the one-yard touchdown. A shovel pass from Applewhite to Robinson then succeeded for a two-point conversion to make it a 21-3 game with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Vikings had a drive going early in the fourth, taking it down to Monroe's 23-yard line. A sack by Jonathan Pierre and Johnathon Weir had the Vikings moving backwards, eventually forcing them to punt from the Mustangs' 38-yard line.
Monroe drove it down to Hudson Valley's 38-yard line, where Troy Booker broke through a hole and took it all the way down the near sideline for a 38-yard touchdown run, making it a 28-3 game with just 6:57 to play.
Monroe forced one more punt before going on its final drive of the game starting from Hudson Valley's 37-yard line after a 30-yard return by Cade White. Ernest Blackshear accounted for 24 rushing yards on the drive, taking Monroe down to the 12 before Roman Purcell kept it himself and rushed for a 12-yard touchdown to reach the eventual final score of 35-3.
Applewhite was efficient in the win, completing 18-of-24 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns, adding four rushes for 19 yards. Booker led the Mustangs with 98 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, adding a catch for six yards. Dixon-King scored twice on three receptions for 74 yards. Robinson caught three passes for 61 yards. Nikiema made six receptions for 45 yards in the win. Presler turned his one reception into a one-yard touchdown.
White led the defense with six tackles in the win, including a pair of tackles for loss. Samuel Ntui-Ebob also had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage, while Tyee Martin made 1.5, and also forced a fumble at the end of the game. Weir and Pierre combined for a sack in the win. Michael Lufile, Michel Lucien and Andrew Hardin each had five tackles in the game.
The Mustangs totaled 427 yards of offense in Saturday's win, while holding the Vikings to just 94 yards. Monroe passed for 228 of those yards and held the Vikings to just 27 passing yards. Monroe also rushed for 199 yards in the win. The Mustangs picked up 25 first downs, while the Vikings had just nine, four of which came via penalties. Monroe converted 8-of-11 third downs, while the Vikings converted just 1-of-12.
Monroe takes to the road for the first time this season on Saturday, Oct. 2, when they visit Post University in Waterbury, Conn. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.