MONMOUTH, Ill. – Halfway through the Midwest Conference divisional schedule, Monmouth College (5-1, 2-0) puts their unbeaten South Division record on the line against Cornell College (2-4, 0-2) when the teams meet for a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
The Scots’ string of shutouts ended at 12 consecutive quarters last week when Illinois College found the end zone in the first quarter, the first score against Monmouth’s defense since Week 2. Monmouth then held the Blueboys scoreless until the fourth quarter. In the meantime, the Scots rolled off six unanswered touchdowns and one field goal. The Scots’ defense ruled, picking off four passes, recovering two fumbles and blocking one punt for a TD. Offensively, quarterback Hayden Nelson rushed for one TD and threw for three more while junior running back DeAndre Wright rushed for nearly 170 yards as Monmouth rolled to a 59-14 win.
Cornell is looking for its first divisional win after dropping a 56-28 shootout to unbeaten Lake Forest last week. The Rams – who average nearly 400 yards and 34 points per game, but give up more than 500 yards and 45 points each outing – where held scoreless through the first half. Quarterback James Douglas – who threw for 156 yards and two TDs – combined with running back Devan Clark to net 162 of the Rams’ 198 rushing yards.
“Cornell is a quality opponent,” said Braun. “Their coaching staff does a great job of getting their kids ready to play. It’s always a tough atmosphere at their place.”
Monmouth enters the game with the ninth-ranked defense in the nation, allowing 229 yards per game. The pass defense is even better, ranked fifth after surrendering a mere 120 yards per game. The Scots are riding a three-game win streak in the series thanks to outscoring the Rams 53-11 in the two previous games under Braun, who is concentrating on the current season, not seasons past.
“They’ve got good schemes on both sides of the ball,” reported Braun of this season’s Rams. “They’ve got a good, athletic quarterback and running back. They can put a lot of points on the board, so I’m hoping it’s not a high-scoring game.”
Braun’s team can also put up points and has been productive on both sides of the ball. While the defense has put up national numbers, the offense is scoring nearly 35 points per game with balance, posting nearly identical rushing (187.7) and passing (187.67) averages. Wright leads the team with seven touchdowns and more than 500 yards rushing, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, just slightly ahead of Nelson’s 4.7 yard per carry average. Nelson has also thrown for nearly 1,100 yards with a dozen TDs – seven to wide-out Yansay Williams. Monmouth’s 59 points last week is a season-high for the defensive-minded Braun’s team.
“We took a good jump last week,” said Braun after the blowout win. “There’s no doubt we moved in a positive direction. We took care of the ball for the most part and took it away from our opponent. Anytime you can do that you’ll have a chance to win. We can’t just do it one time. We’ve got to do it consistently. Each game is a chance to show we can do it week-after-week.”