MANCHESTER, N.H. – Down by a 31-22 margin in the game's final 4:45, the Saint Anselm College football team posted back-to-back rushing touchdowns by senior Eric Fairweather (Londonderry, N.H.) to topple the University of New Haven by a 37-31 margin on Saturday.
The Hawks improve to 1-5 on the season, earning the program's first Northeast-10 Conference victory of the 2019 campaign. New Haven, the favorite in the NE10 Preseason Coaches' Poll to begin the season, falls to 3-3 overall and to 2-2 against league foes.
Fairweather finished with two rushing touchdowns and 91 yards on the ground to go along with his 347 yards through the air. He hooked up with senior Shawn Donovan (Abington, Mass.) on two touchdown passes and was 26-for-43 through the air on the day.
The senior quarterback also reached 2,000 rushing yards in Saturday's win, passing Jon Turner '02 and his total of 2,009 rushing yards to now rank third all-time in program history. He also moves to second place all-time with 27 rushing touchdowns and also reached 30 career passing scores.
Freshman Anthony Brown (Belton, Texas) had two kickoff returns for a total of 156 yards. His biggest play of the evening came only seconds into the second quarter as he set the program record for the longest kickoff return – he caught the ball at the six yard line and returned it 94 yards.
Trailing by a nine-point margin with 4:35 to go in regulation time, Fairweather engineered a three-play, 34-yard drive that culminated in a four-yard rushing score by the Hawks signal-caller. The big play on the drive was a 17-yard catch by sophomore Christian Matthews-Byrd (Saddle Brook, N.J.) that immediately followed a nine-yarder by senior Franklin Holgate (Easton, Mass.).
Following the extra point and a kickoff by junior Joey Cody (Cinnaminson, N.Y.), the Hawks forced a three-and-out on defense and came right back on offense. Fairweather and the Hawks moved the ball into the end zone once again with a 77-yard drive that was aided by a 16-yard pass to Matthews-Byrd and capped by Fairweather's second scoring sprint.
The Hawks completed the two-point conversion on Fairweather's last touchdown, thanks to senior Malik Allen (West Orange, N.J.) who reeled in a lob pass over the New Haven defensive line. Ahead by 37-31 with under a minute left, Saint Anselm kicked off and after a 15-yard return, the Chargers had the ball at the New Haven 23-yard line.
The Chargers made big gains up the field, moving the ball 68 yards in only 27 seconds. With two seconds on the clock and New Haven knocking on the door on the nine-yard line, Chargers quarterback Christian Lupol tried to connect with Ju'an Williams in the end zone but freshman Ryan Raybuck (Flower Mound, Texas) was there in coverage to secure the victory for the home team.
Saint Anselm began the afternoon with an interception on its first offensive drive but the Hawks responded with a three-and-out on defense. With the ball back after the solid defensive stand, Cody put the Hawks on the scoreboard with a 25-yard field goal with 7:09 left in the opening stanza.
New Haven sandwiched a three-and-out by the Hawks with rushing touchdowns by Shamar Logan and Nyhsere Woodson, creating a 14-3 lead as time expired in the first quarter.
The Hawks opened the second quarter with a bang as Brown's record-setting kickoff return breathed life into the Saint Anselm student-athletes and the crowd in attendance. Saint Anselm forced a New Haven turnover on downs on its next possession and after the teams traded punts, Fairweather found Donovan for a 40-yard touchdown with 5:15 to go in the opening half.
With a 16-14 lead in the waning minutes of the second quarter, New Haven tacked on a late touchdown by Williams with 1:11 to go. The Chargers held the lead at halftime, 21-16, and owned the statistical advantage in total offense (274-to-232), logging 14 of the game's initial 23 first downs.
Getting the ball back to start the second half, New Haven booted a field goal on its first possession to up its lead to 24-16 with 9:42 left in the third.
The Hawks scored with 27 seconds left in the third quarter, concluding an 11-play, 56-yard drive with Donovan's second touchdown of the day, this time a 12-yard catch on a pass from Fairweather to shrink the New Haven lead to 24-22.
Down by two with 15:27 to go in regulation time, the Hawks were able to force a turnover on downs but missed a field goal with 8:27 remaining. On the next New Haven offensive possession, the Chargers produced a 41-yard rushing score on a first-and-25 to move ahead, 31-22.
The Hawks ended the game with back-to-back rushing touchdowns to stun the league's preseason favorites.
Junior captain Ryan Sullivan (Stoughton, Mass.) logged a team-leading 17 tackles, logging two sacks for a combined 13 yards and posting four total tackles for a combined loss of 15 yards. Sullivan and senior CJ Miller (Clinton, Md.) each forced fumbles with the latter recovering a fumble with two pass breakups and 13 takedowns.
New Haven was led by 258 combined rushing yards from Logan and Woodson. Under center for New Haven, Lupol was 17-for-30 through the air, logging 247 yards with one touchdown. AJ Greene picked up six catches for 78 yards and the Chargers were led defensively by seven tackles from Allaah Sessions and Martin Worgan.