Easton, Mass. (October 24) -- After rallying for a 28-24 lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Saint Anselm couldn't hold on as Stonehill scored on a four-yard touchdown catch by Eddie Vachon (Newton, Mass.) to come away with the 31-28 win in the 2009 Battle for the Ol' Bronze Hawk. The Hawks trailed by a 24-14 margin entering the fourth quarter before briefly rallying for the 28-24 lead.
The Skyhawks got off to a fast start on the opening kickoff as Stephan Neville (Foxboro, Mass.) raced 85 yards up the far sideline for an early 7-0 lead. Saint Anselm came right back on the next drive though and put together a nine-play, 62-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown reception by junior Marcel Bouie (Stone Mountain, Ga.). Bouie caught the ball at the five yard line and fought off three Stonehill tacklers for his fifth touchdown of the season.
After the teams came up empty on one possession each, Stonehill regained the lead with 12:53 left in the second quarter as Vachon rumbled in from 10 yards out for the 14-7 lead. That score was set up by a 34-yard reception by John Gomes (Hyannis, Mass.) early in the possession. On the ensuing Saint Anselm drive, Hawk punter Joe Robichaud (Madison, Conn.) had his kick blocked and recovered at the 16 yard line by the Skyhawks. That set up a 12-yard touchdown run by Bernard Mathis (Baldwin, N.Y.) for the 21-7 lead with 6:14 left in the first half. Mathis took the pitch in the backfield from the Stonehill quarterback and fought his way down the left side for the score.
Saint Anselm and the duo of quarterback Michael Pierce (Andover, Mass.) and wide receiver Marc Wilson (Farmington, Conn.) answered back with a 47-yard touchdown catch right up the middle to cut the lead to 21-14 with 5:10 left in the first half. The touchdown was the team-leading sixth of year for Wilson and the 15th passing score of the season for Pierce. The Skyhawks capped off the first-half scoring with 12.9 seconds left in the opening half as Brendan Gorey (West Islip, N.Y.) blasted a 39-yard field goal to make it a 24-14 halftime score in favor of the Skyhawks.
Saint Anselm had a number of scoring chances in the third quarter, but came up empty on each. The first was a 20-yard field goal attempt by Zack McCabe (East Freetown, Mass.) that was called wide despite one official beside the uprights calling the kick good. On the next Hawk drive, Wilson pulled down a pass from Pierce inside the 10 yard line, but fumbled and the fumble was recovered by Stonehill at the five yard line. Saint Anselm had one final third-quarter scoring opportunity, but Pierce was hurried out of the pocket and fumbled, recovered by Stonehill's Clark Leger (Waltham, Mass.).
The Hawks pulled to within 24-21 early in the fourth as Pierce found Craig Dennis (Atlantic City, N.J.) on a seven-yard scoring strike in the corner of the end zone. Dennis pulled down a looping touchdown pass in the far corner of the end zone for his second touchdown of the season and Pierce's third touchdown of the game.
Saint Anselm's Chris Bent (Dracut, Mass.) forced a Skyhawk fumble at its own 47-yard line that was recovered by freshman Moses Acloque (Norwood, Mass.) and the Hawks took over midway through the fourth quarter. The Hawks converted that into another touchdown as Wilson took the direct snap from 12 yards out and rumbled in untouched for the 28-24 lead with 3:47 remaining in the game.
Stonehill came right back though as Neville took the ensuing kickoff all the way down to the Saint Anselm 20-yard line, giving the Skyhawks an immediate red zone opportunity with just over three minutes left. On third and goal at the four yard line, the Skyhawks regained the lead for good at 31-28 as Vachon pulled down the touchdown reception on a screen pass and found the pylon for the lead with just 36 seconds remaining.
Saint Anselm got the ball back and drove down to the Stonehill 28-yard line after a 42-yard pass from Pierce to Robichaud, but one last attempt by Pierce was knocked down as time expired for the 31-28 Stonehill win.
Pierce was 36-for-74 passing for 390 yards and three touchdowns, while also running 15 times for 106 yards. Pierce also finished the game with 496 yards of total offense, a Saint Anselm single-game school record. Pierce also set single-game school records in passing attempts, passing yards and yards of total offense.
Wilson and Bouie became just the third Saint Anselm duo to each have 100 yards receiving in a game with 163 and 125 yards each, respectively. Wilson tied a single-game school record with 16 receptions as he piled up 163 yards and one touchdown. Bouie also finished in double digits with 10 catches for 125 yards and one touchdown. In addition to his receiving numbers, Wilson also set the Saint Anselm single-game mark for all-purpose yards with 299 yards, breaking his own record of 274 yards set just one week ago.
Defensively, senior All-America candidate Dan Bohenek (Bridgewater, Mass.) tallied a career-high 15 tackles, including two for a loss and one pass breakup. Bohenek now has 260 career tackles, moving him into second place on the Saint Anselm all-time tackles list. Freshman Ethan Sylvain (East Montpelier, Vt.), the leading freshman tackler in the Northeast-10, ended up with 11 stops, including six solo stops and a pair of pass breakups.
In addition to their single-game records, Wilson and Pierce each set Saint Anselm single-season records today with two games still to be played. Pierce now holds the mark for total offense in a season with 2,283 yards, the first player to go over 2,000 yards, along with the passing yards mark at 2,051 yards. Wilson broke his own mark in all-purpose yards as he now has 1,433 yards and now holds the single-season mark for receiving yards with 721 yards. Wilson also now has 61 total receptions this season, tying him for the single-season mark.
For Stonehill, Vachon rushed 23 times for 113 yards and one touchdown while also catching four passes, including one for a score. Neville finished up with 188 yards of kickoff returns, including an 85-yarder for a touchdown and the key fourth-quarter return to set up the winning score for the Skyhawks.
Saint Anselm falls to 2-6 overall and 1-5 in the Northeast-10, while Stonehill improves to 3-5 overall and is 2-4 in league play. Saint Anselm returns to action on Saturday, October 31st as the Hawks host the University of New Haven for a Noon start at Grappone Stadium. This marks the first-ever meeting between the Chargers and the Hawks.