Bernard sets school record in loss
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Sophomore wide receiver Justin Bernard set a school record for receiving yards, freshman quarterback Andrew Murphy posted a rookie school record for passing yards and sophomore wide receiver Ahkeen Williams amassed nearly 200 yards of all-purpose offense as he set five personal career highs, but the Saint Anselm College football team suffered a 45-34 defeat against Southern Connecticut State University on Saturday afternoon at Jess Dow Field.
The Hawks dropped to 0-5 on the season, including 0-4 in the Northeast-10. The Owls recorded their first victory to improve to 1-4, 1-2 NE-10.
Bernard caught 13 passes for 226 yards and a career-high two touchdowns. The 226 yards eclipses the school record of 187 set by Marc Wilson against Plymouth State University on Sept. 5, 2009.
Murphy, in his first collegiate start, completed 29 of 43 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns. He was intercepted once. The 405 yards are the most in program history for a freshman, surpassing Michael Pierce's 397 against the University of New Haven on Oct. 3, 2009, and just 3 yards short of matching Pierce's overall school record of 408 that he set against Pace University on Sept. 25, 2010. The four touchdowns match Pierce's four in the Plymouth State contest for most by a Saint Anselm freshman and are also the most in school history for a true freshman.
Williams, meanwhile, set personal career bests in receptions (nine), receiving yards (96), receiving touchdowns (two), rushing attempts (eight) and rushing yards (82).
After the Saint Anselm defense forced a three-and-out on Southern Connecticut's first drive of the game, the offense took over and used six plays to move the ball 63 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass from Murphy - the first of his career - to Williams that made it 7-0 after the extra point by senior Shea Cerio 3:28 in.
The Owls answered in 2:06 as Vaughn Magee, who racked up 297 yards on 30 rushes for the day, sprinted in from 11 yards out. Devin Silverman's point-after knotted the game at seven with 9:21 on the clock.
Then, after three straight three-and-outs, Southern drove all the way to the Saint Anselm 17-yard line, but Silverman's 33-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left and the game remained tied with 2:08 left in the opening quarter.
Murphy was then intercepted on the second play of the ensuing drive, setting up the Owls at the Saint Anselm 17-yard line once again. The Saint Anselm defense held strong, however, stopping Magee for no gain on a fourth-and-1 try at the 8-yard line.
Southern would turn that into points, however, when with the Hawks facing a third-and-8 from their own 10, the snap sailed over Murphy's head and into the back of the end zone. The quarterback tracked the ball down and batted it out of the end zone to save the touchdown, but hand the Owls a safety that gave them a 9-7 lead 34 seconds into the second quarter.
After forcing Southern to punt, the Hawks strung together an eight-play, 70-yard drive that was capped with a 20-yard touchdown catch by Bernard. Murphy dropped back and tossed the ball high into the air toward the back right corner of the end zone, where Bernard tracked it down, leapt and pulled it in for the score. Cerio's extra point gave the Hawks a 14-9 lead with 8:08 to go in the second.
The Owls would answer once again, though, when they took advantage of a short field and went 41 yards in six plays, with Jacob Jablonski finding Jayson Holt for a 25-yard touchdown that put Southern back on top, 16-14, after Silverman's PAT with 1:41 left before the break.
Saint Anselm quickly responded with an eight-play, 67-yard drive. A 20-yard Bernard reception with a 15-yard personal foul penalty tacked on to the end of it, followed by a Williams 18-yard catch, moved the Hawks into field goal range. Cerio came through as he split the uprights on a 25-yarder as time expired to send the Hawks into the locker room with a 17-16 edge.
The Hawks began the second half on offense and put together an eight-play, 65-yard drive that set up a 32-yard field goal try for Cerio that went wide left.
Southern Connecticut capitalized as it drove 80 yards in nine plays, with Jablonski hitting Willie Epps for a 27-yard touchdown that gave the Owls the lead back, 23-17 with 8:04 remaining in the third, after Silverman's extra point.
Saint Anselm needed just 1:07 to get the lead back, as on the third play of the ensuing drive, Murphy hit Bernard near the right sideline. Bernard and the Southern defender both went for the ball, but Bernard made the catch, separated from the defender and raced down the sideline to finish off the 86-yard catch and run. Cerio booted the PAT and the Hawks went in front, 24-23.
The Hawks scored again 53 seconds later as sophomore linebacker Isaac Jorgensen nabbed his fourth career interception and first of 2012 to give the offense the ball back at the SCSU 27-yard line. It took the Hawks three plays to find the end zone with Murphy targeting Williams, who made the catch and darted to the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown. Cerio once again added the point-after and Saint Anselm went up 31-23 with 7:11 left in the third quarter.
On the second play of the ensuing drive, junior defensive back Joey Polverini intercepted Jablonski to hand the ball back to the offense at its own 40-yard line. The Hawks went three-and-out and after offsetting penalties on Cerio's first punt, he punted again. This time, John Moscatel muffed the catch and freshman defensive back Carroll Bailey fell on the ball at the Owls' 22-yard line. The Hawks went three-and-out again, however, with Murphy pooch punting to put Southern at its own 24.
The Owls picked up a first down on their next drive, but were once again forced to punt. Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Gomes partially blocked the punt and the Hawks took over at their own 33. Saint Anselm went 67 yards in eight plays, as Cerio connected on a 25-yard field goal that pushed the lead to 34-23 with 14:53 left in the fourth quarter.
Southern responded by going 83 yards in 10 plays, as Magee capped the drive with a 25-yard touchdown run. Jablonski hit Jerome Cunningham on a two-point conversion try and the Owls were within 34-31 with 11:47 to go.
Following a three-and-out and a punt by Saint Anselm, Southern moved the ball 81 yards in four plays, with 61 of those yards being eaten up by Magee, including 44 on a touchdown run that gave the Owls a 38-34 advantage after Silverman's kick with 8:10 on the clock.
On their next drive, the Hawks picked up a first down, but were again forced to punt. Despite Cerio's punt being downed inside the 1-yard line, the Owls went the length of the field to seal it. Magee was responsible for 78 of those 99 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left that made it 45-34 after Silverman's kick.
The Hawks gained a season-high 500 yards of total offense, with 405 coming through the air and 95 on the ground. The Owls put up 583 yards - 292 passing and 291 rushing. Magee ran for 187 yards in the fourth quarter, which set a Division II single-quarter record.
The Hawks recorded a season-high four sacks and held the Owls without a third-down conversion in the first half (0-7). Southern went 6-for-7 in that category in the second half, however. Senior linebacker Chris Bent tallied a game-high 14 tackles to add to his team lead.