When: 11 a.m., Saturday
Where: Kessler Stadium, West Long Branch, N.J.
The line: Monmouth by 20.5
1. Moving forward: UNA got the biggest win of its season on Saturday when a 20-yard field goal from Joe Gurley split the uprights in the closing seconds, beating Campbell 25-24. It was the senior players on the Lions’ team last game in Braly Stadium and it snapped a three-game losing streak. The Lions weren’t consistent on offense, but had enough big plays down the stretch, led by quarterback Christian Lopez, to get the victory. The defense had trouble stopping Campbell’s rushing attack, giving up 269 yards, but it got enough stops on third down, allowing only 4 of 14 conversions, to give the offense a chance. Next up is a challenge on the road with No. 19 Monmouth, who just defeated Kennesaw State, who was previously unbeaten in FCS play.
2. Quarterback situation: UNA’s quarterback situation got a bit more complicated after Saturday’s game when Lopez led the team on a 10-play 80-yard drive to set up a game-winning field goal from Joe Gurley. Dever wasn’t bad in his outing through the air, going 11 for 19 with 143 yards, but he was sacked four times. Lopez moved the ball on the ground, carrying three times for 24 yards, with a key run on the last drive to get the Lions in the red zone. The reality is that Dever has a good arm, takes care of the ball, but doesn’t have great mobility. Lopez on the other had, can throw the ball well but is prone to turnovers. His mobility is one of his biggest assets, allowing him to escape the pocket and either throw or run. The coaching staff will have a decision to make, to either go with Lopez, stick with Dever, or play both against Monmouth on Saturday.
3. Gurley with player of the week honors: UNA’s Joe Gurley earned Big South Special Teams player of the week honors for the third time this season after his 20-yard field goal was good as time expired to give the Lions a 25-24 win over Campbell. The junior is 13 for 15 on field goals this season and averages 43.24 yards per punt, with 15 of his punts landing inside the 20-yard line. He leads the Lions in scoring with 54 points.
4. Scouting Monmouth: At 7-2, Monmouth is coming off its biggest win of the season defeating then-No. 4 Kennesaw State, 45-21. Kenji Bahar, the Hawks’ fifth-year starting quarterback went 20 for 27 with 333 yards and a touchdown and junior running back Pete Guerriero carried the ball 21 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. Bahar has thrown for 2,374 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions, along with three touchdowns on the ground. Guierrero has rushed for 1,099 yards and nine touchdowns. Defensively, the Hawks have held opponents to 125.3 yards per game rushing and 236.6 yards through the air. Monmouth linebacker Da’Quan Grimes leads the unit with 61 tackles, 7-½ for loss, two sacks and three forced fumbles.
UNA receivers vs. Monmouth DBs
If there’s a way that UNA can keep pace with Monmouth offensively, it will have to be through the air. Andre Little had a breakout game against Campbell, Cortez Hall is working himself back into the offense after dealing with a personal tragedy, Dexter Boykin is a deep threat and Jakobi Byrd has speed to get free in space. All four players will have to have big games in one way or another to take advantage of a defense that is allowing 236.6 yards per game through the air.
Player of the week
Wide receiver Andre Little
Little had one of the best games of his career with UNA in last week’s game, finishing with six catches for 118 yards and returning a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. His biggest catch on the game-winning drive, when he came up with a 39-yard pass from Christian Lopez to put the Lions in Campbell territory.
By the numbers
14.8: Average yards per completion for quarterbacks Blake Dever and Christian Lopez in the 25-24 win over Campbell. The Lions offense struggled throughout the course of the game, but both quarterbacks made big throws to receivers like Little and Dexter Boykin, giving the Lions enough to get the win in the end.
226.1: Average number of rushing yards given up by the UNA defense per game this season. The Lions have struggled specifically in the last two games, having given up 490 yards to Kennesaw State and 269 yards to Campbell.
13: Number of field goals made by junior kicker/punter Joe Gurley this season. Gurley had his biggest one of the season when he kicked a 20-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired to give UNA the win over Campbell. Gurley is 5 for 5 on field goals from 20-29 yards away this season.
Monmouth 41, UNA 24
Like most games this season, the Lions will likely come out swinging early on, but fall behind late in the second half. There’s no doubt the Lions’ talent on offense can matchup with Monmouth, but the Lions will have trouble stopping the depth and experience the Hawks have on offense, especially with Bahar and Guerriero. It’ll be the difference in the game.
— Michael Hebert