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HERE IS A LOOK AT THIS WEEKEND'S MATCHUP
Saturday marks the final game of the season for both Monmouth and Duquesne. The Hawks are coming off of their best defensive performance of the season, defeating Sacred Heart and the league's leading offense by a score of 19-7.
The Hawks were led offensively by fifth-year senior Brett Burke who had his best day throwing of the season, completing 80% of his passes for 227 yards. Running back David Sinisi set the Northeast Conference scoring record when he plunged in from three yards out against the Pioneers in the third quarter. Sinisi's second score gave him 312 career-points, which is third most among active players.
The Blue & White's defensive line will have to play similar to last week, when they harassed SHU quarterback Dale Fink for most of the game, sacking him once. The Hawks bring the conference's fifth ranked passing defense against the top ranked passing offense in the Dukes. After winning the turnover battle for the third time in 2008, MU is still -2 on the season, compared to Duquesne's +1.
Duquesne snapped a five game losing streak last weekend against Wagner, blanking the Seahawks in Staten Island, 14-0. The Dukes, who are in their first season of NEC play, boast the conference's top passing offense (225.9 ypg), with sophomore quarterback Connor Dixon throwing 19 touchdowns and for almost 2,000 yards.
THE COACHING MATCHUP
Kevin Callahan is in his 16th season at Monmouth as the Hawks' head coach. Callahan owns an 95-66 career coaching record, all with Monmouth. The only coach in Monmouth history has led the Blue & White to five Northeast Conference championships, in 1996, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006. He earned NEC Coach of the Year accolades in 1998, 2003 and 2006. Prior to arriving in West Long Branch, Callahan served as defensive coordinator at Colgate for eight seasons and at Wagner for three years. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Albany (1977-79) and Syracuse (1980) before becoming a Seahawk assistant in 1981.
Duquesne is led by Jerry Schmitt who is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Dukes. Schmitt owns a 23-16 record (.590) in three seasons in Pittsburgh, which is the third best coaching record in the 100+ years the school has sponsored the sport. The Pittsburgh, Pa., native has led Duquesne to at least a share of the MAAC Championship all three seasons since taking over the program. Schmitt was an assistant with the Dukes in the 1985-87 seasons, then coming back to serve as Offensive Coordinator from 1992-1999. He served as head coach of Westminster College from 2000-04, leading the Titans to a 28-21 record and a President's Athletic Conference title. Schmitt graduated from Westminster College in 1982 with a degree in mathematics, where he was an offensive lineman.
INSIDE THE MU-DUQUESNE SERIES
Saturday marks just the third time in history that the Hawks and Dukes have met on the gridiron. Duquesne owns a 1-1 record against Monmouth, with the Hawks winning on the final weekend of the season last year. In that game David Sinisi ran for 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Ken Amsel returned a Kevin Romach pass for 32 yards and a touchdown. The Duquesne quarterback threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Dukes.
The Dukes edged the Blue & White 12-10 in the 2003 ECAC Bowl, which was held at Rooney Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. In that game, Monmouth took a 10-6 third quarter lead when Brian Boland hit Michael McClelland on a four-yard pass but the Dukes answered with a 60 yard pass in the fourth quarter to take the lead. MU had a chance to take the lead with six minutes remaining but kicker Steve Andriola was unable to convert a 40 yard field goal.
MONMOUTH AGAINST THE NEC
Today's game marks the final Northeast Conference contest of the year for MU. Monmouth owns a 55-33 record all-time against current members of the NEC. While a member of the NEC the past 12 seasons, the Hawks own a 53-29 record. Monmouth's best winning percentage comes against St. Francis (Pa.), whom the Hawks are 14-2 all-time against. Albany (4-7) is the only NEC team that the Hawks have a losing record against. Head Coach Kevin Callahan has led the Hawks to a record-tying five Northeast Conference Championships, earning Co-Champion honors in 1996, 1998, 2003 and 2004 while taking winning the outright championship in 2006. Monmouth has never gone undefeated in the conference but has suffered just one league loss in each of the those championship seasons.