Murphy shines in St. Anselm loss
MANCHESTER - Freshman Andrew Murphy threw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns, but the Saint Anselm College football team's rally fell short as Bentley University came away with a 38-28 victory Saturday night under the lights at Grappone Stadium.
The Hawks, who put up the most points of any Bentley opponent thus far this season and outscored the visitors, 28-14, over the final 21:43 of the contest, fall to 0-6 on the season, including 0-5 in Northeast-10 play. The Falcons remain perfect at 5-0, 4-0 NE-10.
In his second career start, Murphy completed 32 of 48 passes for 293 yards and a pair of scores, but was also picked off twice. Junior wide receiver Justin Bernard snagged nine balls for 74 yards and a touchdown, and classmate Keith Charles made five catches for 82 yards and a score as part of his 173 all-purpose yards. The back also carried six times for 30 yards and ran back three kicks for 61 yards.
Bentley's defense, which entered the game with the second best scoring defense in the country (9.3 ppg), came as advertised, shutting out the Hawks for the first two-and-a-half quarters and staking the team to a 24-0 lead. After that, however, the Saint Anselm offense came alive as it posted 28 second-half points against a defense that had allowed 37 points and 1.5 ppg after halftime in four previous contests.
After Saint Anselm's second offensive drive of the second half resulted in seven points for Bentley when Steve Hopkins intercepted a Murphy pass and took it back 40 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown, the Hawks responded with a 10-play, 55-yard drive that was capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run by junior running back Greg Bell. Charles ran three times for 21 yards on the drive. Murphy was 3-for-4 for 21 yards and added a 10-yard run of his own. Senior kicker Shea Cerio converted the extra point to make it 24-7 with 6:43 remaining in the third quarter.
Bentley responded just one play and 17 seconds later when Bobby Tarr ran 75 yards up the right sideline and dove into the end zone to make it 31-7 following Will Lockwood's point-after.
The Hawks hit right back as they moved the ball 52 yards in seven plays to find the end zone. Murphy was a perfect 3-for-3 on the drive, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Bernard in the back right corner of the end zone that made it 31-13 with 4:05 to go in the third. Murphy, who also had a 14-yard rush during the drive, found Bernard again on the following play for a two-point conversion that sliced the deficit to 16.
The Falcons later put together what looked to be a back-breaking, eight-play, 82-yard drive that took 4:28 off the clock, with QB Luke Zahradka's 15-yard run and Lockwood's PAT making it 38-15 with 9:10 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Saint Anselm, however, answered just one play and 12 seconds later when Charles received Murphy's dump pass and raced up the middle for 73 yards and a touchdown that made it 38-22 after Cerio's kick with 8:48 left.
Just three minutes later, Bentley started a drive at the 50-yard line and had moved into Saint Anselm territory when senior linebacker Chris Bent reached up and plucked Zahradka's pass over the middle of the field out of the air and returned it 13 yards to the Hawks' 39-yard line. It was the captain and team-leading tackler's first career interception.
The Hawks capitalized as Murphy missed on his first two throws of the drive, but then completed four straight for 50 yards. Bell then rushed four times for 11 yards to move the hosts down to the Bentley 3-yard line before sophomore wide receiver Ahkeen Williams capped the 11-play, 64-yard drive by taking the ball straight up the middle out of the wildcat formation and into the end zone. Murphy's two-point conversion try failed, however, and the Hawks trailed by 10 with 1:03 on the clock.
Bentley recovered the ensuing onside kick and took a pair of knees to seal the win.
Williams made seven catches for 39 yards.
Neither team would score in the first quarter, with Bentley missing a 39-field goal when Lockwood drove it off the right upright with 5:27 to go. Then, after forcing the Hawks to punt, the Falcons had moved into Saint Anselm territory when freshman defensive back Jack Hopkins jumped up and ripped away Dan Guadagnoli's pass that was intended for Bill Kiley for his first career interception with 55 seconds left in the opening frame.
Just 1:02 later, however, Bentley's Hopkins would pick Murphy for the first time to set up the first score of the contest. Tarr capped a seven-play, 46-yard drive with a 1-yard run that made it 7-0 after Lockwood's extra point with 11:21 on the clock in the second quarter.
Following nine plays and a punt by Cerio, the Falcons marched 74 yards in four plays and 1:40 before Sean Cross caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Guadagnoli that made it 14-0 after Lockwood's kick with 6:27 left in the second.
After the Bentley defense forced a fumble in the red zone that it recovered, the offense crafted a 14-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a Lockwood 24-yard field goal that made it 17-0 as time expired on the half.
Hopkins then came up with his pick-six on the third play of Saint Anselm's second drive of the second half that staked Bentley to a 24-0 lead with 10:00 left in the third quarter.
Bent and Hopkins, in addition to recording their first career interceptions, each tallied a game-high 13 tackles. Junior defensive back Trevor Jessie made nine stops and broke up a pair of passes.
Bentley gained 501 yards of total offense, including 289 on the ground, while the Hawks amassed 378 yards of total offense, with 293 of them coming through the air.