Smithfield, R.I. (September 11) -- Taking on its first Division I opponent since the 2003 season, the Saint Anselm football team dropped a 44-21 final to Football Championship Subdivision opponent Bryant University on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,867 fans at a sunny Bulldog Stadium.
Prior to the start of today's game, both teams observed a moment of silence in recognition of the ninth anniversary of September 11, 2001 and the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and United Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.
After a three and out by the Hawks on the game's first possession, Bryant took possession at midfield and capped off the scoring drive with a 19-yard rush off the left tackle by sophomore Jordan Brown (Glastonbury, Conn.) for the TD just 4:22 into the opening quarter.
With the score 7-0 after the first period, the Bulldogs took advantage of a Hawk turnover to make the score 14-0 with 13:24 left in the second quarter. After Bryant pinned Saint Anselm at the two yard line on a punt, Hawk quarterback Michael Pierce (Andover, Mass.) had his pass from the end zone intercepted by Samad Wagstaff (New Rochelle, N.Y.), who returned it 23 yards to the two-yard line. Senior Michael Canfora (Verona, N.J.) rumbled in for Bryant on the next play, rushing up the middle for the score.
Midway through the second quarter, Bryant got a 61-yard rush down the near sideline from Brown, down to the five yard line to set up a first-and-goal for the Bulldogs. On third down, Bryant tried to connect in the back of the end zone, but the pass from Mike Croce (Waterbury, Conn.) was picked off by Saint Anselm's Mark Colantonio (Londonderry, N.H.) to end the scoring threat by Bryant.
The Bulldogs did make it a 21-0 score with 4:13 left in the first half though as Franck Tebou (Mattapoisett, Mass.) blocked the punt by Shea Cerio (Canastota, N.Y.), which Tebou then recovered at the two yard line. Two plays later, Brown scored his second TD of the day to extend the Bryant lead late in the half. Bryant extended the lead to 27-0 with 2:38 left as Wagstaff picked off his second Pierce pass of the day, returning it 53 yards for the touchdown.
Saint Anselm got on the board with 1:20 left as Pierce found freshman Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.) wide open on the right side for the 37-yard scoring pass to cut the lead to 27-7.
The Hawks tried an onside kick to start the third quarter, but the Bulldogs took advantage and returned the kick to the Saint Anselm 22-yard line. After a 15-yard rush by Canfora made it a first-and-goal situation, the Hawks held the Bulldogs to a 22-yard field goal by Chris Bird (Monument Beach, Mass.) for the 30-7 score. Bryant added to the lead midway through the quarter as Brown scored his third rushing touchdown of the afternoon, dodging a pair of Hawk tacklers for the nine-yard score and the 37-7 advantage.
The Hawks inserted junior Marc Wilson (Farmington, Conn.) at quarterback for the ensuing series and on the third down play, he was picked off to set up a nine-yard touchdown run by Canfora to make it a 44-7 score with 5:51 left in the third. Wilson picked up the second Hawk touchdown of the game with 3:35 left in the third as he pulled down a nine-yard touchdown pass from Pierce to make it a 44-14 score. Wilson was split wide left, pulled down the pass at the two yard line and scrambled in for the score. The score was set up by a 26-yard rush up the sideline by Wilson and a 19-yard reception by senior Marcel Bouie (Stone Mountain, Ga.).
Saint Anselm cut the lead down to 44-21 with 7:20 left as Pierce found a wide open Brandon Gomes (Riverside, R.I.) behind the Bulldog defensive backs as he scored from 43 yards out for his third scoring pass of the day.
Pierce finished 22-of-37 for 230 yards and three touchdowns, while freshman Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.) finished with 19 carries for 52 yards. Wilson was the leading receiver for the Hawks, pulled down seven catches for 52 yards on the day with one touchdown. Sophomore safety Ethan Sylvain (East Montpelier, Vt.) led the Hawks with 10 tackles on the afternoon.
With the loss, Saint Anselm falls to 0-2 overall, while the Bulldogs improve to 2-0 on the season with their second straight home victory. The all-time series now stands at 7-3 in favor of Bryant.
Saint Anselm returns to the field on Saturday, September 18 as the Hawks host Bentley University for a 1 p.m. start at Grappone Stadium. The game is the 2010 Homecoming for Saint Anselm, with more information available this week at athletics.anselm.edu. The game will also be available live online at www.saintanselmhawks.tv, which will be launched this week, in conjunction with the Pack Network. The pregame show will begin approximately 10 minutes before kickoff.