Football Comes Up Short at AIC, 35-21

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Despite over 100 all-purpose yards from sophomore RB Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.) and over 300 yards of total offense from junior QB Mike Pierce (Andover, Mass.), the Saint Anselm College football team fell to the Yellow Jackets of American International College by a 35-21 score Saturday afternoon at Ronald J. Abdow Field.

With the loss, the Hawks fall to 0-5 on the season and drop to 0-4 in the Northeast-10. The Yellow Jackets improve to 4-2 overall and collect their third victory during conference play (3-1).

Charles rushed 20 times for 96 yards and a touchdown and also caught three passes for 29 yards and another score. Pierce was 27-for-41 for 295 yards and a touchdown through the air, while picking up 31 yards and another touchdown on seven rushes.

The Hawks opened the scoring in the contest with a 58-yard drive down field that culminated with a Charles 19-yard touchdown at 13:53 of the first quarter. Senior WR Marc Wilson (Farmington, Conn.) initiated the sequence by returning the opening kickoff 26 yards from the Saint Anselm 16-yard line, before a 17-yard Charles reception and 17-yard Charles rush pushed Saint Anselm deep into AIC territory. Another five-yard Charles rush then set up his long touchdown run. Junior Shea Cerio (Canastota, N.Y.) added the point-after to lift the Hawks to the early 7-0 lead.

American International quickly answered with a 24-yard touchdown run from Terrell Williams, who capped off a five-play, 78-yard drive to knot the score at seven apiece following a successful PAT attempt by Cesar Vaca-Hurtado at 11:57.

With 1:56 remaining in the opening quarter, Kevin Arduino scored a rushing touchdown from eight yards out to cap a 16-play, 87-yard drive, with Vaca-Hurtado adding the extra point to double up the Hawks 14-7. AIC was able to finish the drive despite sacks from junior LB Brendan Timmons (Franklin, Mass.) and senior LB Shane O'Donnell (Dracut, Mass.).

Following five first-downs by the Hawks' offense, including a 17-yard pass play from Pierce to sophomore WR Eric Feehan (Bedford, N.H.) on the first play of the drive and a pair of Charles rushes for 10-plus yards, Pierce ran the ball in from three yards out at 9:46 of the second quarter to tie the game at 14 apiece after Cerio's extra point.

On the third play of the ensuing AIC drive, Arduino was able to break several tackles and rumble 39 yards to the Saint Anselm 2-yard line, setting up a one-yard Williams rush and a Vaca-Hurtado point-after attempt that completed the go-ahead drive for the Yellow Jackets to bring the score to 21-14 with 7:14 to play in the first half.

After a Carron McCluney interception set up AIC at the Hawks' 38-yard line later in the second quarter, a 10-yard sack by junior DL Derek Brewer (Walpole, N.H.) brought up a second-and-long for the Yellow Jackets. Arduino lofted a deep pass that was brought in by Trevor Perryman and returned down the field for a touchdown. An extra point attempt was converted by a Vaca-Hurtado following the 41-yard play, doubling up the Hawks by a 28-14 margin with 1:02 left in the second quarter.

The score stayed that way until 2:06 remained in the third quarter when Charles reeled in a four-yard pass from Pierce to bring the Hawks to within a touchdown at 28-21.

American International jumped back out to the 35-21 lead with 6:34 remaining in regulation, as Arduino rushed into the end zone from one yard out. The touchdown was the culmination of 6:34 of possession in which 15 plays were run for a total of 64 yards.

Following the touchdown, two quick passes by Pierce netted the Hawks a total of 62 yards as Wilson made an 11-yard grab and Feehan pulled in a 51-yard pass. A Charles rush for two yards inched the Hawks closer to a score and an opposing pass interference call granted Saint Anselm a new set of downs. On fourth down with six yards to go, an incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs with 3:58 to play.

The Hawks, who scored three touchdowns in their four trips to the red zone, amassed a season-high 443 total yards, including 148 on the ground.

Feehan caught nine passes for 114 yards, while Wilson collected nine receptions for 66 yards.

Timmons and O'Donnell finished with 12 and nine tackles, respectively, while senior LB Kyle Hayes (Merritt Island, Fla.) and freshman DL Josh Cheever (Lynn, Mass.) each tallied eight. Redshirt-freshman LB Isaac Jorgensen (Eldersburg, Md.) snatched his third interception of the year in the third quarter, giving the Hawks 12 picks on the year, which is one more than all of last season.

The Hawks return to action Saturday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. when they take on FCS-member Stony Brook at LaValle Stadium.