MANCHESTER, N.H. – Sophomore running back Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.) ran for 100 yards and three touchdowns, but the Saint Anselm College football team suffered a 56-30 loss to 20th-ranked Kutztown University in the team's season opener at recently-upgraded Grappone Stadium on Saturday.
The Hawks fall to 0-1 to open the season, while Kutztown posts a season-opening win against Saint Anselm for the fourth consecutive year to move to 1-0.
Playing on a brand new synthetic Field Turf surface that was installed over the summer, the Hawks fell behind 14-0 midway through the opening quarter after a pair of touchdown passes from Kevin Morton to Chris McCormick.
Saint Anselm struck back, however, stopping a threatening Kutztown drive when redshirt-freshman Isaac Jorgensen (Eldersburg, Md.) came up with an interception at his team's 24-yard line. The Hawks then pieced together a 10-play, 67-yard drive over a span of 2:23 to slice the deficit in half. Sophomore WR Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.) had three catches for 44 yards on the drive before Charles plowed his way into the end zone from two yards out with 1:18 remaining in the first quarter. Charles, a Northeast-10 All-Rookie Team member a year ago, racked up his yardage on just 15 carries (6.7 average), while Bernard finished with 13 catches for 92 yards.
The Hawks drew even closer with 8:32 to play in the second quarter on a 28-yard field goal from junior Shea Cerio (Canastota, N.Y.) that made it 14-10.
After Morton and McCormick hooked up for a third time on a 43-yard touchdown play to go up 21-10, the Hawks once again refused to go away as they moved the ball 67 yards over nine plays – capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from junior QB Mike Pierce (Andover, Mass.) to senior WR Marc Wilson (Farmington, Conn.) that made it 21-17 with 1:51 to go before halftime.
Over the next 53 seconds, however, Kutztown moved the ball 35 yards in just three plays following a 54-yard kickoff return from Josh Mastromatto. Robbie Frey capped the sequence with a one-yard run to make it 28-17 with 47 seconds remaining.
With the Hawks behind, 35-17 with under three minutes to play in the third quarter, Charles scampered 54 yards to pull his team back within 11.
Frey answered with a 42-yard touchdown run of his own to cap the third-quarter scoring before Charles opened the fourth quarter with a four-yard touchdown run to cap a nine-play, 60-yard drive just 24 seconds in that made it 42-30.
A Mastromatto touchdown run and Morton's sixth TD pass of the day capped the scoring and put the game out of reach midway through the fourth quarter.
Pierce was 28-for-52 with one touchdown and an interception, while Wilson caught four of those passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. Pierce also ran 15 times for 51 yards.
Saint Anselm amassed 438 yards of total offense, including 174 on the ground, which marked the first time since their 2008 meeting that the Hawks ran for 100-plus yards against the Golden Bears. Kutztown put up 697 yards of total offense, which set a new program record.
Despite the offensive outburst by Kutztown, the Saint Anselm defense did force three turnovers, with all three coming via the interception – two by Jorgensen and one from sophomore CB Trevor Jesse (Cumberland, Md.).
Offensively, the Hawks held the ball for a little over half the game (30:41), converted 7 of 19 third-down opportunities and went a perfect 4-for-4 on their red zone chances, including three touchdowns.
The Hawks have a bye week coming up before returning to action Saturday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. when they play host to Southern Connecticut State University at Grappone Stadium.