MANCHESTER, N.H. – Behind four total touchdowns from senior quarterback Yianni Gavalas, the Saint Anselm College football team picked up their first win of the 2016 season with a 42-7 victory over Pace University on Saturday afternoon at Grappone Stadium in Manchester, N.H.
The win is also the first for head coach Joe Adam on the Hilltop, whose defense held the visiting Setters to only seven points in the game. The Hawks (1-7, 1-6 NE-10) are back in action next Saturday when they host Merrimack College at 12 p.m. in a game that will serve as Senior Day for Saint Anselm.
Gavalas finished the day going 20-of-30 through the air for 262 yards and two touchdowns. The senior also did damage on the ground, carrying the ball eight times for 50 yards and a pair of scores.
Joe Hayman was also effective with his feet, totaling 73 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. When Johnny Aylward took over for Gavalas in the fourth quarter, the sophomore had seven carries for 48 yards, while Correy King had six rushes, including a one-yard touchdown.
Sophomore Kyle Hill recorded his third-straight 100-yard receiving day, hauling in seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Zach Bartak returned to the lineup and had six grabs for 66 yards, while Connor Schoske caught three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.
Ryan Monette was a dual-threat for the Hawks as he had a pair of carries for 16 yards and four catches for 34 yards.
Defensively, Eric Mercer kept up his strong play of late, leading the Hawks with 10 tackles on the day. Liam Gillis added seven tackles, with Eric Wilson recording six stops. Senior Richie Curran had a pair of tackles and recovered a fumble on a special teams play.
The Hawks totaled a season-high 468 yards of total offense, while holding the Setters to only 189 yards in the game. Saint Anselm had a balanced attack as they picked up 266 yards through the air and 202 on the ground. Pace struggled to get their offense going, settling for only 34 yards passing while picking up 155 on the ground. The Hawks dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 41:16 compared to just 18:44 for the visitors.
Gavalas scored the only touchdown of the first quarter as he tucked the ball and ran for a 16-yard score with 4:39 to play in the opening quarter to cap an eight-play 64-yard drive for Saint Anselm.
After a drive stalled near midfield, the Hawks took advantage of a Pace fumble on special teams as Brendan Mulligan's punt bounced off the helmet of Jasheem Banks and into the arms of Richie Curran to give Saint Anselm possession inside the 20-yard line of Pace. Bartak got the Hawks to the six-yard line with a reception and Joe Hayman eventually punched it in to make it a 12-0 game. Gavalas found Kyle Hill just over the goal line for the two-point conversion to make it a 14-0 game with 10:38 to play.
After another Pace punt, Saint Anselm worked the ball deep into Setters territory after a 26-yard run for Gavalas that pushed the Hawks even closer after a late-hit by Pace. After Hayman was stuffed at the one-yard line, Gavalas hurried the offense back to the line and quickly called his own number, pushing the pile over the line with a quarterback-keeper for the 21-0 advantage.
Pace finally got on the board near the end of the first half as Delaney Wallace scored a rushing touchdown from four yards out to make it a 21-7 game.
Saint Anselm got the ball back with just over a minute to play, and Gavalas found Hill for completions of 14 and 26-yards to get the ball to the Pace 24. After spiking the ball, Gavalas could not connect with Hill two-straight passes to make it fourth-and-10 at the 24-yard line. With time running out, Gavalas stepped up in the pocket and lofted the ball to the back of the end zone, where Connor Schoske won the jump ball and hauled in the Hail Mary pass to give the Hawks a 28-7 lead headed into the break.
On the opening possession of the second half, the Hawks drove 91 yards on 13 plays, which ended with a Correy King touchdown to extend the lead to 35-7.
After a Pace punt, the Hawks drove the field again and Gavalas found Hill with a quick slant pass from six-yards out for the final touchdown of the game to put the Hawks on top 42-7.
The Hawks and Setters would trade field position the rest of the game as Saint Anselm cruised to their first win of the year.
Saint Anselm converted 47% (8-of-17) of their third downs in the game while also going 3-for-5 (60%) on fourth down. The Hawks defense held Pace to only one third down conversion (1-of-10).
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, Instagram and Snapchat @STAHawks.