MANCHESTER, N.H. – Junior QB Mike Pierce (Andover, Mass.) threw for 315 yards and four touchdowns, but the Saint Anselm College football team dropped Saturday afternoon's 59-34 decision to Southern Connecticut State University in both teams' Northeast-10 opener at Grappone Stadium.
The Hawks, who were coming off their bye week, fall to 0-2, 0-1 NE-10, while the Owls improve to 2-1, 1-0.
Pierce completed 33 of his 57 passes and tossed an interception. Senior WR Marc Wilson (Farmington, Conn.) caught 10 of Pierce's passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, while on the other side of the field, sophomore Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.) continued his impressive play with 11 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.
The Hawks started things off with a bang on the first play from scrimmage, as Pierce hooked up with Wilson deep over the middle for a 45-yard pass play that set up a first and 10 at the Southern Connecticut 15. Later in the nine-play, 60-yard drive on third and goal, Pierce found Bernard in the back of the end zone where he reeled in Pierce's pass with one hand to make it 7-0.
The Owls answered with an eight-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off on a Rashaad Slowley 11-yard run, and looked to score again after the Hawks were forced to punt. Redshirt-sophomore DB Ethan Sylvain (East Montpelier, Vt.) thwarted those plans, however, coming up with an interception that gave his team good field position at the Southern Connecticut 45.
Saint Anselm then moved the ball those 45 yards in six plays, with a 20-yard strike from Pierce to Wilson putting the Hawks back on top, 14-7.
Slowley, who finished with 205 yards on 35 carries and six touchdowns, started the next drive with his longest run of the afternoon – a 34-yard dash, which set up his seven-yard score just two plays later to tie the game at 14.
On the ensuing kickoff, Wilson returned the ball 80 yards up the left sideline to quickly put the Hawks back on top, 21-14.
From there, however, the Owls would put up 24 unanswered points, including a 20-yard TD pass from Kevin Lynch to Andre Privott with three seconds remaining in the first quarter.
A Chris Hazelton 33-yard field goal gave Southern Connecticut its first lead of the day at 24-21, before Slowley's 4-yard stroll with 7:22 left in the half pushed the lead to 31-21.
The Owls opened the second half with a three-play, 73-yard drive that was capped on a 42-yard pass play from Lynch to Willie Epps, which opened up a 38-21 advantage just 1:20 in.
With Southern Connecticut looking to increase its lead, sophomore DB Trevor Jesse (Cumberland, Md.) intercepted his second pass of the day at his team's 20-yard line and returned it into Southern Connecticut territory. Saint Anselm then cut its deficit to 11 when Pierce connected with freshman TE Brian DeAngelis (Peabody, Mass.) on a six-yard pass under 2:30 later.
A 12-yard run by Slowley to cap the third-quarter scoring, followed by a five-yard Slowley jaunt to open the fourth, put Southern Connecticut in control at 52-27.
Junior WR Craig Dennis (Atlantic City, N.J.) reeled in an 11-yard Pierce pass to make it 52-34 before Slowley added a three-yard score with 3:34 remaining to cap the scoring.
Sophomore RB Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.) caught five passes for 41 yards in the contest.
Lynch was 20-for-27 for 314 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted three times. Privott recorded nine receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown.
The Saint Anselm defense forced five turnovers, including a fumble recovery by senior LB Kyle Hayes (Merritt Island, Fla.) after he put a crushing hit on Lynch that knocked the ball loose, and an interception by junior DB Tyler Crawford (Lamoine, Maine). The four interceptions are the most for the Hawks since they recorded four against Bentley University on Oct. 25, 2008, while the five turnovers are the most since forcing five last season against Stonehill College on Oct. 30. The team's seven interceptions through two games this season are just three shy of last season's entire total.
The Hawks return to action Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. when they take to the road for the first time in 2011 to battle Bentley.