With the loss of some big name seniors on MSU's defensive line prior to the season there were a lot of question marks as to how Bobcats defense would perform Thursday night. When the clock hit zero to end the fourth quarter, all of those questions were answered.
"Who knew what exactly that group was gonna be able to accomplish," said MSU head coach Rob Ash. "They were good. The first half when it really mattered we were tough against the run, we got pressure on the quarterback. It looked like our defense from past years. That's an excellent outcome for the first game."
The Bobcat defense held the Monmouth Hawks to just three points in the first half, while also generating their own scoring opportunities. One moment fans will certainly remember came in the second quarter when MSU defensive lineman Craig Ashworth picked off Monmouth quarterback Brandon Hill's pass taking it 57 yards for the touchdown.
"That's my first and probably only collegiate touchdown, so I'll take it," said Ashworth. "I just ran as fast as I can. Props to Brad Daly. I know, we all know, that was not gonna happen without Brad, so it was just a fat guys dream."
Ashworth was referring to the big block Daly provided on the tail end of the run. Daly was key on that play as he pressured the quarterback into the bad throw that led to the interception and hustled down the field to make the block that sprang Ashworth to the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown.
Alongside Ashworth's performance, Daly and sophomore defensive end Taylor Sheridan recorded sacks with Alex Singleton picking up an interception of his own.
Both sides of the ball looked fantastic last night and the performance was not lost on Monmouth who praised the team following the game.
"They had a number of players who were capable of the big play in the quarterback, the running back, the wide receiver, and the tight end," said Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan. "Their defensive side, I was very impressed with their quickness and their explosiveness as well. They're a good football team."
The defense could not have proven their critics more wrong on a bigger stage with a record turnout of just over twenty-one thousand fans, which cheered the Cats on to their first win.
"Amazing turnout today with a great crowd," said Ash. "Very inspiring way to start the season with that kind of attendance."
We'll see if the defense can keep this hot start going when they face Southern Methodist University next Saturday in Dallas, Texas.