SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Saint Anselm College football team raced out to an early 21-0 lead only 7:58 into the first quarter, but American International College scored 28-unanswered points to rally for a 28-21 win over the Hawks on Saturday afternoon in Springfield, Mass.
The Hawks wrap up the 2016 season at 2-9 overall, while American International improves to 4-7 with the win.
Yianni Gavalas went 20-for-40 for 189 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the all-time passing touchdown record set by Michael Pierce. Gavalas was also the team's leading rusher as he picked up 35 yards on seven carries.
Kyle Hill was held under 100 yards receiving for the first time since Oct 1., but he still racked up five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Zach Bartak also had five grabs for 45 yards, while Ryan Monette hauled in five passes for 28 yards. Connor Schoske chipped in three catches for 20 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Eric Mercer registered 13 tackles, while Eddie Matovu joined him in double-figure stops with 11 tackles on the day. Liam Gillis had seven tackles to go with a forced fumble and recovery. Shaun Callahan, Jeremy Betts and Isaiah Douglas each picked up interceptions, with Douglas taking his to the house for six.
The Hawks' first drive of the day ended in a missed field goal, but on the second play of AIC's drive, Douglas picked off Joseph Czelusniak and took the ball 30 yards and into the end zone to give the Hawks the early 7-0 lead.
The Yellow Jackets next drive also ended in a turnover as Gillis stripped Troy Morrow at the AIC 28 yard line to give Saint Anselm the ball right back. After an incompletion, Gavalas hooked up with Kyle Hill for the 28-yard score that broke the program record for touchdown passes in a career at Saint Anselm and made it a 14-0 game.
American International continued to give the ball away, as their next drive ended in a Jeremy Betts interception that gave the Hawks the ball at the AIC 30. Gavalas completed passes to Bartak and Gabe Elliott before a 12-yard completion to Monette set the Hawks up at the two-yard line. On third-and-goal, Gavalas dropped back to pass and found Connor Schoske for the touchdown that put Saint Anselm on top 21-0 with 7:02 to play in the first quarter.
The Yellow Jackets responded on the ensuing kick-off as Daquan Holmes took the return 88 yards for a touchdown that made it a 21-7 game.
This time the Hawks were the generous ones as Joe Hayman was stripped at midfield and Robert Hansen took the ball back to the Saint Anselm 36 yard line. Kwame Jarvis eventually cashed in for the Yellow Jackets as he hit Christian Dargan for a seven-yard touchdown strike to pull AIC to within one score at 21-14.
AIC eventually tied the game after Gavalas was intercepted, leading to a Troy Morrow rushing touchdown, which tied the game at 21-21 early in the second quarter. The score would remain that way headed into the half as neither team could find the go-ahead score.
After a quiet third quarter, the Yellow Jackets pulled ahead for good with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter as Jarvis completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Evan Graham to put the home team in front 28-21.
On the ensuing Saint Anselm drive, the Hawks took over at midfield and Bartak picked up back-to-back first downs to put the ball at the 36-yard line. After a penalty on the Hawks, Gavalas connected on three-straight passes to Hill, Monette and Bartak to put the ball at the AIC four-yard line.
Joe Hayman picked up a yard on his first two rushes, but was stopped for no gain on his final attempt. With fourth and goal at the two-yard line, the Hawks called for the quarterback sneak, but Gavalas was stuffed before he could cross the goal line as AIC took over on downs.
Saint Anselm forced a punt and took over with 1:24 to play, but Gavalas was intercepted on the first play of the drive as AIC was able to take over and run out the clock on the come-from-behind victory.
The Yellow Jackets put together 306 yards of total offense while holding the Hawks to just 211 on the day. Both teams struggled with turnovers as the Hawks forced four miscues, while the Yellow Jackets had three. AIC was 9-of-15 (60%) on third downs, while Saint Anselm was 7-of-16 (44%), and converted 1-of-2 (50%) of their fourth down tries.
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