NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Saint Anselm College football team nearly overcame a 28-10 fourth quarter deficit, but fell to Southern Connecticut State University, 28-25, on Saturday afternoon at Jess Dow Field in New Haven, Conn.
The Hawks drop to 2-8 overall and 2-7 in the Northeast-10 Conference with the setback. Saint Anselm will be back in action next Saturday for NE-10 Championship weekend, with their opponent still to be determined.
Yianni Gavalas ended the day going 30-of-53 for 262 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. In the process, Gavalas tied the Saint Anselm program record for passing touchdowns in a career with 50. Kyle Hill recorded his fifth-straight 100+ yards receiving game, hauling in 10 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Bartak added 12 catches for 109 yards, with Ryan Monette recording seven grabs for 43 yards.
Monette posted 160 all-purpose yards in the game, returning four kicks for 49 yards and fielding four punts for 68 yards in addition to his 43 receiving yards. Monette had a 56-yard punt return touchdown in the game for the Hawks.
Joe Hayman and Gavalas combined to carry the ball 21 times for 36 yards, with Hayman leading the Hawks with 25 rushing yards.
Saint Anselm won the opening coin toss and elected to defer to the second half, and Southern Connecticut was quick to capitalize on their opening possession as they drove 75 plays in only four plays to take a 7-0 lead. From 39-yards out, Raymond Catapano aired it out to Devante Jenkins, and the senior hauled in a juggling pass to give the Owls the early lead.
Southern Connecticut took advantage of a Saint Anselm turnover as Yianni Gavalas was intercepted on a batted ball in the air by Vasilios Grigorakos. The Owls moved quickly inside the 10-yard line following a personal foul call against the Hawks, and Catapano picked up his second touchdown of the day with an inside shuffle pass to Ryne Griesenauer to put the home team on top 14-0.
The Hawks offense starting clicking on their next drive as Gavalas hit Kyle Hill for 14 yards and then Zach Bartak for 10 more as Saint Anselm moved into Southern Connecticut territory. The ball was moved to the 17-yard line following a personal foul against the Owls, and Joe Hayman moved the ball inside the 10-yard line with a nine yard run. The drive would stall there, however, as the Hawks had to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Daniel Parisi to make it a 14-3 game.
Southern Connecticut answered with a drive that resulted in a nine yard pass from Catapano to Griesenauer to give the home team a 21-3 lead with 12:07 left in the second quarter.
At the end of the second quarter, the Hawks moved into Southern Connecticut territory as Gavalas used his feet with rushes of 12 and 20 yards to put the ball at the Southern 24 yard-line. With 1:33 left, the senior quarterback was intercepted at the Southern Connecticut 17-yard line as Gavin Harley scooped the ball up before it hit the turf to give the Owls the ball back. Southern ran out the clock on the half, taking a 21-3 lead into the break.
It was a pretty quiet game in the third quarter as the two teams traded field position with punts – including a 60-yard bomb from Brendan Mulligan from his own three yard line.
The Hawks finally found the end zone when Ryan Monette took a punt return 56 yards for a touchdown that made it a 21-10 game near the end of the third quarter. It was the first punt return touchdown for the Hawks, which was not blocked, since Jeff Farragher returned a punt 80 yards against Assumption on Sept. 30, 2000.
Southern Connecticut answered on their next drive as Catapano threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day only 10 seconds into the fourth quarter, hooking up with Earl Myers for a 17-yard strike to put the Owls back on top, 28-10.
On the next Saint Anselm drive, the Hawks moved the ball to the Southern 14-yard line and went for it on fourth-and-three. Gavalas' pass to Kyle Hill was knocked away, but pass interference was called and put the ball at the two-yard line. Hill came running across the offensive line and took a shuffle pass from Gavalas and ran it in for the touchdown that made it a 28-17 game.
Southern Connecticut drove the field and eventually had the ball inside the Saint Anselm 10-yard line. Catapano dropped back to pass, but his throw was batted high into the air and intercepted by Jeremy Betts, giving Saint Anselm the ball back at their own three-yard line with 6:51 to play.
The Hawks needed to cover 97-yards and convert on two-straight fourth-and-longs as Gavalas found Ryan Monette to convert the first, before Gavalas hooked up with Hill to extend the drive. Gavalas kept looking Hill's way, completing two passes to put the ball at the Southern 16-yard line, and eventually the duo hooked up for a touchdown to make it a 28-23 game. Gavalas connected with Ryan Monette for the two-point conversion as Saint Anselm climbed to within 28-25.
On the ensuing kick-off, Daniel Parisi placed a perfect onside kick into the hands of Nate Lewis that gave the ball right back to Saint Anselm with 3:15 to play and the ball at the Southern Connecticut 48 yard line.
After Gavalas completed back-to-back passes to Joe Hayman and Zach Bartak, Southern Connecticut's Corey Chaffee stepped in front of a Gavalas pass and took the ball all the way to the Saint Anselm three-yard line. The Owls were called for a penalty moving the ball to the 18-yard line, but Vochan Fowler picked up a first down, eventually moving the ball to the one-yard line and kneeling out the clock on the game.
Southern Connecticut totaled 371 yards in the game, while the Hawks picked up 303 yards of their own. Time of possession was fairly even as the Owls held the ball for 30:22 with the Hawks having the ball for 29:38. The difference in the game came down to turnovers, with the Owls forcing three turnovers to just one for Saint Anselm. The Hawks ended the game converting 25% of their third downs (4-of-16), while Southern Connecticut converted 38.5% (5-of-13).
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