Duhawks lose season opener to #12 Monmouth
Sun, Sep. 6, 2009 - [Football]
            
The Loras College football team dropped the opening game of the 2009 season to the #12 Monmouth College Fighting Scots 39-20 in Monmouth, Illinois on Saturday. The Scots, led by preseason All-American quarterback Alex Tanney, jumped out to an early lead, scoring a field goal on the game's opening drive to start the scoring and led 19-0 before Loras scored their first points of the season.
 
The Duhawks settled down after the first quarter to post 20 points, but Monmouth capitalized on four Loras turnovers to earn the win. Late drives actually helped Loras earn one more minute in the time of possession, but the hurry-up, pass-happy Scots offense posted 405 yards of total offense.
 
Loras wasn't without their accomplishments on the stats sheet in the loss. Sophomore quarterback Vaughn Gesing, starting his eleventh game in a Loras uniform, posted career highs in completions, attempts, and yards. The Waukon, Iowa native went 29-for-49 for 320 yards and one touchdown. Loras' first scoring drive included long pass completions by Gesing to senior Chris Swift and junior John Ingersoll. Gesing completed passes to seven different receivers, with five apiece to Ingersoll, Nick Merlino, and Gavin Kaiser. Ingersoll posted a team high 89 yards receiving.
 
Gavin Kaiser scored two of Loras' three touchdowns with short runs out of the goal line "Beast" package. Kaiser's five receptions went for 21 yards and he also added 102 yards in the kick return game (including a 48 yard return).
 
The ground game, looking to fill the void left by 2008 Iowa Conference MVP Alex McGrew, had a total of 23 carries and 56 yards by four different rushers. Brandon Decker had a team high eight carries, Beau Evans had seven, and Johnny Jackson had three in the second half. Jackson posted Loras' longest run of the day, 12 yards. Kaiser's five rushes came out of the "Beast" formation and resulted in two scores.
 
The defense sacked Tanney three times. Kenny Kikilas, David Zoeckler, and Kyle McCormick each brought Tanney to the newly installed artificial turf at Monmouth. The Duhawks posted four more tackles for loss. John Diekman led Loras with nine tackles (seven solo).
 
Monmouth never had a touchdown drive take longer that 2:35 and Tanney's favorite target in the passing game, Matt Shepherd caught 13 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Loras' offense improved as the game progressed, with four of their last five drives totaling at least 10 plays and covering at least 50 yards. Ultimately, the early lead by Monmouth, the minus-four in the turnover department, and a couple of costly penalties doomed the Duhawks in the road contest.
 
Loras opens the home portion of the schedule next Saturday when they host Millikin. Kickoff is at 1:00 pm. The game can be seen live on the web courtesy of the Duhawk Broadcast Network beginning shortly before kickoff and heard live locally on AM-1490 WDBQ. Duhawk Gameday, presented by the Best Western Midway, begins at 12:30 pm.