St. Anselm collects first victory
MANCHESTER - Junior running back Keith Charles amassed nearly 300 all-purpose yards, including 119 on the ground, to lead the Saint Anselm College football team to a 48-21 victory against Pace University on Saturday afternoon at Grappone Stadium.
The win is the first of the season for the Hawks, who improve to 1-6, including 1-5 in Northeast-10 play. The Setters drop their fifth straight against Saint Anselm and remain winless at 0-7, 0-6 NE-10.
The 48 points matches the program record that was set in a 48-42 win at Merrimack on Oct. 10, 2008 and is also a school record for points in a home game for the Hawks.
Charles led an offensive attack that put up 430 yards, including a season-high 267 in the ground game. The quad-captain rushed 11 times for a career-best 119 yards (10.8 avg) and a touchdown, which catching a pair of passes for 21 yards. Charles, who totaled 288 all-purpose yards, also returned three kicks for 148 yards, including a career-high 82-yard return for a touchdown in the opening quarter. Fellow junior running back Greg Bell ran for a career-high 90 yards on 12 carries (7.5 avg) and a score.
After the defense forced Pace to punt on the game's opening drive, the offense moved the ball 77 yards in eight plays, with sophomore QB Stephen Cuipa finding junior WR Justin Bernard for a 6-yard score. Playing in his first game in nearly a month, Cuipa went 4-for-5 for 48 yards on the Hawks' first drive. After a 25-yard catch-and-run by Charles moved the Hawks into Pace territory, a 21-yard run by Charles set up the Bernard score. The extra point by senior Shea Cerio was good and Saint Anselm led, 7-0, at the 10:29 mark of the first quarter.
The Saint Anselm defense once again forced the Setters to punt, but the muffed punt was recovered by Pace, which took over at the Hawks' 11-yard line and tied the game at seven when Blair Wynn ran in from a yard out with 5:29 on the clock. The Reza Zoroufie kick was good.
On the ensuing kickoff, Charles picked up the ball on the right hash and raced 82 yards up the sideline for a quick score that made it 14-7 in favor of Saint Anselm after the Cerio PAT.
Pace was forced to punt again on its next drive, but another fumbled punt gave the Setters excellent field position at the Saint Anselm 30-yard line. QB Jordan Raynor capped the short drive with a 16-yard run that knotted things at 14 after the Zourofie extra point with 3:23 left.
The Hawks struck again at the 10:36 mark of the second quarter when Bell ripped off a 45-yard run down the right sideline on the third play of the drive. Cerio's point-after was good and Saint Anselm led, 21-14.
Saint Anselm received the kickoff to start the second half and marched 54 yards in five plays and 1:40 to take a 28-14 lead when freshman QB Andrew Murphy lofted up a pass that was tipped by a Pace defender right into the hands of sophomore wide receiver Ahkeen Williams who was standing in the end zone, for a 27-yard touchdown just 1:47 into the third quarter. Cerio's extra point was good.
On the ensuing Pace drive with the Setters threatening, senior linebacker Chris Bent picked off Raynor at the Saint Anselm 23-yard line and ran down the right sideline for what appeared to be touchdown. Officials called back the score due to an inadvertent whistle and placed the ball at the Pace 34-yard line. The Hawks did not seem to be fazed as Cuipa rushed for 14 yards and then handed to Charles, who scampered another 21 for the score. Cerio's kick was no good and Saint Anselm led 34-14 with 8:36 remaining in the third.
Later in the quarter, the Hawks pieced together an eight-play, 53-yard drive that was capped by a Williams four-yard run with 1:58 on the clock. The Hawks kept the drive alive when Cerio rushed for 24 yards on a fake punt attempt with the team facing a fourth-and-12 from its own 45. A botched snap and hold forced Cuipa to keep it himself on the extra point and he was taken down in the backfield, keeping it a 40-14 game.
On the third play of the ensuing Pace drive, senior Mike Hobbs strip-sacked Raynor at the Setters' 26-yard line and junior Lou Licciardi scooped up the ball and ran it back 24 yards for the touchdown. The Hawks then faked the extra point as Cerio rolled out to his left and hit freshman TE Mike Lombard on the left side of the end zone for the two-point conversion that made it 48-14 with 10 seconds left in the third.
Pace then put together a five-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a Patrick Lupfer 14-yard run that cut it to 48-21 after the Zoroufie PAT.
Cuipa finished 8 of 14 for 127 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing 10 times for 35 yards. Murphy was 4 of 7 for 36 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Senior wide receiver Craig Dennis made three catches for 76 yards, while Bernard snagged four passes for 27 yards and the score.