Monmouth College Football Builds Momentum Heading into Ripon Contest


MONMOUTH, IL (10/03/2019) Fresh off an impressive win, the Monmouth College (1-2) football team will try to keep the momentum rolling when it travels to Wisconsin to face Ripon (1-2) in a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday, the final game before Midwest Conference divisional play begins next week.

The Fighting Scots picked off three passes in the opening period and jumped out to a 31-7 first-quarter lead last week to run by St. Norbert 34-14. When the day was done, Monmouth’s defense had its own version of a “pick six,” intercepting a half-dozen passes and holding the Knights to just six yards rushing. Meanwhile, Monmouth freshman running back Henderson Francois scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving.

Ripon dropped a 28-25 decision last week at Illinois College as the Red Hawks scored in the final minute to cut the margin of defeat. Running out of the option attack, sophomore quarterback Cormac Madigan rushed for 111 yards against the Blue Boys and connected on eight passes for 120 yards after suffering two sacks and two interceptions.

Braun has seen the Red Hawks’ attack before, but Saturday will be the first meeting between the two storied programs since a Scots’ 28-0 win in 2016, Braun’s second year at the helm.

“Ripon is a very good program,” warned Braun. “They won seven games a year ago and are very tough to beat at home. The triple option is tough to defend. We’ll have to prepare well and play well if we want to win.”

The Scots faced – and shut down – the St. Norbert option last week, but Braun cautions against drawing comparisons.

“The Ripon option hits much faster than St. Norbert in the running game,” reported Braun. “You can’t really simulate that speed in practice. Our guys will have to be on their toes and adjust to that speed. It may take a series or two for us to get acclimated to their speed and efficiency. Defense on Saturday will be all about discipline: reading our keys, doing our job and taking our responsibility. We can’t key on just one back. If we do that, they’ll run one of the other two guys.”

Monmouth’s offense was efficient last week, scoring on five of its six first-quarter possessions. The Scots also put up four plays of 30 yards or more.

“Ripon’s defense flies to the ball and is a little different than we normally see,” said Braun. “Our offense took a step forward last week, but there’s still work to do. We’ve had way too many penalties on both sides of the ball and that’s something we have to address. Those things are killers.”

Despite the penalties, the Scots were able to move the ball last weekend with a two-back offense. Braun sees that balance and a focused defense as the keys to the game.

“Really, we’ve been a two-back offense,” said Braun. “Just one guy can’t carry the load if our offense is to run the way it needs to. We’ve got some playmakers out of the backfield with Devin Lawrence and Henderson Francois, but we’ve got a bunch of other guys, including receivers, who can bust off a big gain. Offensively, we have to find a way to get them the ball and reduce penalties. Defensively, we must stay with our assignments. We took a step forward last week and want to continue that heading into next week’s divisional play.”

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