MANCHESTER, N.H. – Sophomore QB Andrew Murphy (Franklin, Mass.) tossed three touchdowns, including a pair to junior WR Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.), and the defense forced four turnovers, but the Saint Anselm College football team dropped a 42-28 decision against Bowie State University on Saturday afternoon in both team's season opener.
The Hawks drop to 0-1, while the Bulldogs jump to 1-0.
Murphy finished 19 of 39 for 165 yards with three TDs and two interceptions. Bernard, meanwhile, caught seven passes for 29 yards and the two scores.
After Bowie State forced a Saint Anselm three-and-out and a punt, it moved 26 yards over nine plays, including a Jared Johnston six-yard touchdown scamper. Mario Diaz-Aviles added the extra point to put the visitors on top 7-0 with 10:16 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Hawks struck back 1:06 later as they needed just three plays to cover 40 yards and tie the game after a 60-yard kickoff return from senior RB Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.). Senior WR Eric Feehan (Bedford, N.H.) hauled in a 36-yard, one-handed grab in the middle of the end zone before sophomore K/P Shane Grayson (Ormond Beach, Fla.) tacked on the point-after.
Kendall Jefferson put the Bulldogs back in front with a 1-yard TD stroll that capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive and made it 14-7 after the kick with 3:35 left.
Bowie State then made another defensive stand and forced the Hawks to punt, but facing their own third-and-1 on the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs turned it over as junior DL Cam Foster (New Ipswich, N.H.) laid a hit on Keith Brown that forced the ball loose at the visitor 45-yard line. Junior LB Mike Tatro (North Adams, Mass.) scooped up the football and dashed down to the six-yard line before running out of room.
The offense took over and on the first play, Murphy hit Bernard in the right corner of the end zone to cut it to 14-13 before Grayson's extra point knotted the game with 1:22 to play in the opening stanza.
After Bowie State's 11-play, 59-yard drive stalled on fourth-and-15 at the Saint Anselm 20, the Hawks responded by going 80 yards in nine plays, with Murphy and Bernard again hooking up to cap the drive – this time from four yards out. Grayson put on the finishing touches and Saint Anselm held its first lead of the day at 21-14 with 9:42 left in the half.
Jefferson set the Bulldogs up with great field position for their next drive as his 70-yard kick return shortened the field. Bowie State moved 28 yards in five plays as Brown's five-yard run and a Diaz-Aviles extra point tied it at 21 at the 7:14 mark. BSU threatened to move ahead at the end of the half, but an interception at the Saint Anselm 6-yard line by junior LB Isaac Jorgensen (Eldersburg, Md.) helped the Hawks dodge a bullet.
Jefferson's second 1-yard touchdown run of the day capped a 10-play, 78-yard drive that opened the third-quarter scoring and gave the visitors the lead back at 28-21 after the extra point with 9:47 to go.
The Bulldogs looked to go up two scores when Tatro came up big again with an interception of Johnston that he brought back 35 yards to the Bowie State 12-yard line. Facing a third-and-goal, the Hawks punched it in on a five-yard run by Charles and things were all tied up at 28 following the Grayson kick with 7:08 left.
After each team made a pair of stops, BSU started a drive just 34 seconds into the fourth quarter that went 67 yards in 12 plays and 6:36. Johnston hit Nyme Manns in the back of the end zone before the point-after that made it 35-28 with 7:57 to play. Murphy was picked on the second play of the ensuing drive and Johnston found Ricardo Smith on the next play to make it a 14-point spread just 55 seconds after the previous score.
The teams traded stops, which gave the Hawks one more outside shot at a comeback. Murphy orchestrated a 12-play, 65-yard drive that brought his team down to the four-yard line, but the clock ran out and Bowie State escaped with the victory.
Feehan caught two passes for 43 yards and the touchdown, while junior Ahkeen Williams (DeWitt, N.Y.) made four catches for 51 yards. Charles carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards and his score, while also nabbing three receptions for 19 yards.
Tatro tallied 10 tackles, a fumble recovery, an interception and a pass breakup, as well as 74 yards worth of defensive returns. Jorgensen made a game-high 12 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss and an interception, while sophomore DB Carroll Bailey (Clinton, Mass.) matched Jorgensen's 12 tackles and added both a breakup and a QB hurry.
The Hawks converted 7 of 16 third-down chances and put together 235 yards of total offense, while the Bulldogs went 10 of 18 on third down and racked up 483 yards, including 291 on the ground.
The Hawks return to action Saturday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. when they travel to take on Stonehill College at W.B. Mason in the "Battle for the Ol' Bronze Hawk." The team returns home Friday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. when it plays host to defending Northeast-10 Champions, the University of New Haven, at Grappone. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter @STAHawks.