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October 12, 2013

St. Francis meeting a familiar foe

LORETTO — A week after nearly overcoming a 25-point halftime deficit at Central Connecticut State, the St. Francis Red Flash welcome a familiar – albeit no longer a conference – foe in Monmouth at noon today.

The Hawks, who left the Northeast Conference after last season, are playing an independent schedule this season – currently boasting a

3-3 record after a 35-9 win over another former NEC mate, Robert Morris last week.

The Red Flash are one of five NEC opponents comprising Monmouth’s independent schedule this season.

The Red Flash are 1-4 with near-misses against Fordham and Central Connecticut State following a home win over Division II Lincoln at DeGol Field.

St. Francis eventually fell 38-29 to the host Blue Devils last week in New Britain, Conn.

St. Francis’ offense is quickly becoming a showcase for new career rushing record-holder, Kyle Harbridge, who eclipsed Todd Harris’ mark of 3,414 set between 2003-06.

Harbridge has 3,439 career yards after rushing for 179 against the Blue Devils. His 937 yards places him fifth on the school’s single-season rushing mark, set in 2011 by Harbridge’s 1,474 yards.

Harbridge’s 937 yards and 10 rushing scores lead the NEC, easily separating him from Central Connecticut State’s Rob Hollomon.

The university announced that Harbridge was one of 20 players named to the Walter Payton Award, presented annually to the most outstanding player at the FCS level.

He is also a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s Campbell Trophy.

Harbridge’s efforts aren’t the only ones gaining recognition in Loretto.

Freshman defensive back Lorenzo Jerome picked up the NEC’s Rookie of the Week award after picking off a pass and making seven stops.

His three interceptions tie him with teammate DaQuan Minter – a Greater Johnstown product – and a number of other players for the conference lead.

The Hawks’ offense is statistically about balance. Monmouth – behind Julian Hayes’ 649 yards – have rushed for 1,055 yards while the passing attack has gained 1,296 yards with Brandon Hill collecting 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns.

After a sluggish 0-3 start that saw the Hawks fall at No. 2 Montana State (42-24) and Liberty

(45-14), while dropping a home contest against Lehigh (28-25), Monmouth has rallied to beat Holy Cross and Columbia on the road before last week’s home win over Robert Morris.

St. Francis trails in the all-time series 17-3, but the Red Flash did beat Monmouth 45-31 in last year’s contest.

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