GREENSBURG, Pa. – Freshman QB Andrew Murphy (Franklin, Mass.) annihilated his own school records, junior WR Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.) became the school's first 1,000-yard receiver, as well as the all-time leader in touchdown receptions and sophomore WR Ahkeen Williams (DeWitt, N.Y.) posted a pair of career highs as the Saint Anselm College football team outlasted Seton Hill University in a 52-45 shootout Saturday afternoon at Offutt Field in the team's regular-season finale.
The Hawks improve to 2-8 on the season, while the Griffins wrap up their season at 0-10. By virtue of Merrimack College's 43-40 win at home against Assumption College on Saturday, the eighth-seeded Hawks will travel to North Andover, Mass., to take on the fifth-seeded Warriors next Saturday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. in a Northeast-10 Championship Weekend matchup.
Saint Anselm set school records for points, total offense (774) and passing offense (612), while also rushing for 100 yards – 162 to be exact – for the third time in the last four contests after not touching the century mark through the first six games of the season. The Hawks' offense was also efficient on third down as they kept the Griffins' defense on the field by converting 17 of their 26 chances (65%).
A week after earning Northeast-10 Rookie of the Week and ECAC Offensive Player of the Week honors by setting school records for passing yards and passing touchdowns, Murphy went 45 of 74 (60.1%) for a school-record 612 yards and a program-record seven touchdown passes. Murphy, who also rushed for 12 yards on five carries and threw a pair of interceptions, set a school record for total offense (624) and matched Michael Pierce's record for attempts that was set at Stonehill College on Oct. 24, 2009. With his final touchdown toss of the afternoon and 22nd of the year, Murphy broke the school record for passing TDs in a season that was set by Pierce in the 2009 campaign. He is also just 481 passing yards short of Pierce's 2009 record in that category. Over the last three games, Murphy is 121-for-201 for 1,399 yards and 15 TDs.
Bernard made a school-record 16 catches for 224 yards, which is just two yards shy of his own program mark that he set Sept. 29 at Southern Connecticut State University. The stand-out wide receiver also snagged three touchdown catches for the third straight week to match his own school record that he originally set three weeks ago at Merrimack. Bernard, who already owns the program's single-season receiving touchdown record, became Saint Anselm's first receiver to ever crack the 1,000-yard mark as he now sits at 1,036 receiving yards. With his 12th catch of the contest, Bernard also broke Marc Wilson's record of 82 catches in a season that was set in 2009. Bernard also took down Wilson's career receiving touchdowns record of 17 with his second scoring grab of the day. Over the last three games, Bernard has hauled in 39 catches for 469 yards and nine TDs.
Williams caught 10 passes for a career-high 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns, which matched his career high that was set against Southern Connecticut on Sept. 29, and also ran for 46 yards on five carries. Over the last three contests, Williams has made 28 grabs for 350 yards and the two scores.
The Murphy-Williams connection got things started just under 10 minutes into the contest when Murphy capped an 11-play, 84-yard drive by finding Bernard for a 14-yard score. The extra point from senior P/K Shea Cerio (Canastota, N.Y.) was good and the Hawks led 7-0.
Just under two minutes later, the Griffins answered on Tavin Davis' 31-yard run and Josh Cavalier's extra point that knotted things at seven.
Seton Hill opened the second-quarter scoring just 3:13 in when QB Andrew Jackson hit Lance Williams for a 93-yard pass play that made it 13-7 after Cavlier's kick was no good.
Cerio sliced the deficit in half 1:58 later when he booted a career-long 33-yard field goal to cut it to 13-10.
The Griffins struck again with 7:53 left in the second quarter when Jackson aired it out on the first play of the drive to DJ Carter, who brought it in for the 62-yard touchdown that made it 20-10 after Cavalier's point-after.
Saint Anselm responded 1:48 later when Murphy found Williams from 10 yards out to cut it to 20-17 after Cerio's extra point.
The Hawks then went on top, 24-20, with 2:01 remaining in the opening half after junior RB Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.) caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Murphy.
Seton Hill would drive down the field for 67 yards in 10 plays and score with 14 seconds left on a 10-yard pass from Jackson to Mike Allen. Cavalier's PAT gave the Griffins a 27-24 edge heading into the break.
The Hawks needed just 2:18 to take the lead back at the beginning of the second half. Murphy closed an eight-play, 63-yard drive with a 30-yard scoring pass to Williams that made it 31-27 after Cerio's kick.
Saint Anselm added to its lead with 8:52 to play in the third quarter when its six-play, 80-yard drive ended with another 30-yard Murphy touchdown pass – this one to Bernard – that bumped the lead to 38-27 following the Cerio PAT.
The Griffins cut it to three 2:20 later when they moved the ball 77 yards in just six plays, with Derrick Dyer running it in from a yard out for the score. Carter's two-point conversion trimmed the Saint Anselm advantage to 38-35.
With 4:44 to play in the third quarter, the Hawks grabbed their two-score lead back as Murphy hit senior WR Craig Dennis (Atlantic City, N.J.) for a 23-yard touchdown pass that crowned a six-play, 66-yard drive. Cerio converted the extra point and the lead was 45-35.
Murphy tossed his final TD pass of the day 3:53 into the final quarter when he found Bernard from 27 yards out to bring the score to 52-35 after Cerio's seventh extra point of the day, which set a school record.
Seton Hill made it a game just 1:02 later when Jackson hit Sean Kelley for a two-yard score that made it 52-42 after Cavalier's extra point. Cavalier then added a 30-yard field goal with 6:59 to go to make it a one-score game, but that would be as close as the Griffin's would come.
Cerio punted five times to give him 184 career punts, which is the most in Saint Anselm history. Jeff Dandurand punted 181 times from 1999-02. Two of those five punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, giving Cerio 14 on the season, which matches a program mark.
Charles had four catches for 81 yards and the score, while rushing for 58 yards on 20 carries. Dennis totaled five receptions for 58 yards and the touchdown, while junior Eric Feehan (Bedford, N.H.) brought in seven catches for 58 yards. Junior RB Greg Bell (Liverpool, N.Y.) carried 12 times for 51 yards and caught three balls for 21 yards.
Seton Hill put up 641 yards of total offense, including 592 through the air. The Saint Anselm defense held the Griffins to just 49 yards on the ground.
The eighth-seeded Hawks return to action Saturday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. when they take on fifth-seeded Merrimack at Martone-Mejail Field in a Northeast-10 Championship Weekend tilt. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by liking us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/STAHawks) and following us on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/STAHawks).