MANCHESTER, N.H. – Sophomore QB Yianni Gavalas (Manhasset, N.Y.) completed 37 of 53 passes for 355 yards and a touchdown, while running for 32 yards and two more scores, but the Saint Anselm College football team endured its first blemish of the season as American International College recorded a 48-26 victory Saturday afternoon at Grappone Stadium.
The Hawks see their five-game winning streak snapped as they fall to 5-1 on the season, including 4-1 in Northeast-10 play. The defending conference champion Yellow Jackets improve to 5-1 and take over sole possession of first place in the Northeast-10 with a record of 5-0.
Gavalas' two rushing TDs gave the Hawks 17 running scores on the season to match the single-season program record that was set back in 2001. His eight rushing touchdowns are the most ever for a Saint Anselm quarterback.
Senior WR Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.) followed up last week's record-setting day at Merrimack by catching 11 balls for 119 yards. It was the 36th straight game with a reception dating back to Oct. 9, 2010 for Bernard, who passes former teammate Marcel Bouie for the school record of 35 that was set Sept. 7, 2007-Oct. 23, 2010. Fellow senior WR Nick Marcella (No. Bridgton, Maine) set career highs with eight catches and 90 yards as he caught his first career touchdown pass.
The Hawks totaled 410 yards of total offense, but were held under 100 yards rushing for just the second time this season. They were also 4 of 6 in fourth down conversions, but went just 3 of 16 on third down. The Yellow Jackets used a balance attack to put up 562 total yards – the most given up by Saint Anselm this year – including 216 yards on the ground – the second most allowed this season.
Saint Anselm came out looking like a team determined to make a statement early as sophomore Ryan Monette (Hampton, N.H.) received the opening kickoff and brought it out to the 45-yard line before the offense covered the remaining 55 yards in nine plays. Gavalas was a perfect 5-for-5 on the drive and found the end zone himself from 1-yard out to make it 7-0 following the extra point from junior K/P Shane Grayson (Ormond Beach, Fla.) just 3:15 into the contest.
The Yellow Jackets answered just 1:28 later, however, as QB Kevin Arduino capped a four-play, 63-yard drive with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Stephan Davis. Jared Hulsey added the PAT and the game was tied, 7-7, with 10:17 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Hawks again moved the ball well on their ensuing drive, but Daquan Holmes snatched his seventh interception of the year off a tip near the line of scrimmage and AIC took over at its own 6-yard line.
The teams traded four straight empty series before AIC used another big play for a quick score as Arduino's 54-yard strike to Evan Graham polished off a four-play 66-yard drive that made it 14-7 with 23 seconds left in the first quarter following the Hulsey kick.
Gavalas fumbled on just the second play of the following drive after he attempted to run before being hit by Andrew Justice. Joel Bowen fell on the football and the Yellow Jackets were in business at the Saint Anselm 28-yard line. Four plays later, Terrell Williams scampered into the end zone from 1-yard out and it was quickly 21-7 just 1:02 into the second quarter after Hulsey's extra point.
Saint Anselm responded with a 12-play, 77-yard drive that ate up 4:31 of clock and ended with Gavalas finding Marcella, who raced down the right sideline and jumped between two defenders and over the goal line for a 28-yard touchdown that trimmed the deficit to 21-13 with 9:27 left in the second. Grayson's PAT was blocked.
AIC went up big as Arduino tossed touchdown passes of 44 and 36 yards to Gary Farley and Graham, respectively, to make it 35-13 with 1:44 left before the half. The Hawks took the ensuing kickoff and quickly went 49 yards on eight plays in 58 seconds before Grayson equaled his career best by booting a 41-yard field goal – the sixth longest in program history – with 38 seconds left and Saint Anselm went into the locker room trailing, 35-16.
The Hawks came out in the second half and looked to swing the momentum as Arduino was picked off on just the second play from scrimmage by senior LB Zach Hayes (Chelmsford, Mass.). Gavalas then capped a six-play, 55-yard drive with an 11-yard run up the middle that sliced it to 35-23 just 2:59 in after Grayson's kick.
Hulsey nudged the lead to 38-23 with a 39-yard field goal that caromed off the goal post and through the uprights with 6:38 to go in the third. Saint Anselm followed by grinding out a 14-play, 66-yard drive that ate up 5:05 of clock, but only were able to get a 25-yard field goal from Grayson out of it to make it 38-26 with 1:26 remaining in the third.
Williams' second touchdown run of the day – this one from 5-yards out – put the Yellow Jackets up three scores – 45-26 – 1:02 into the fourth quarter. Hulsey would add a 35-yard field goal with 7:12 to play to bring the score to its final margin.
Defensively, Hayes racked up a career- and game-high 15 tackles and also forced a fumble to go along with his interception, while junior DB Carroll Bailey (Clinton, Mass.) added 11.
The Hawks return to action Saturday, Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. when they take on Long Island University-LIU Post. The next home game for the Hawks is Saturday, Nov. 1 at noon when they play host to Stonehill in the battle of the Ol' Bronze Hawk at Grappone on Senior Day. 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.