EASTON, Mass. – Senior RB Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.) racked up 254 all-purpose yards and scored twice, but the Saint Anselm College football team was handed a 52-24 loss by Stonehill College in the eighth annual "Battle for the Ol' Bronze Hawk" on Saturday evening at W.B. Mason Stadium.
The Hawks drop to 0-2, while the Skyhawks even their record at 1-1.
Charles rushed 18 times for 95 yards and a score and also caught four passes for 51 yards and another touchdown. Sophomore QB Andrew Murphy (Franklin, Mass.) went 27-for-45 for 280 yards and a touchdown, but also threw a pair of interceptions.
After a 49-yard return from Zaire Reiph to begin the game, Stonehill moved 51 yards in 10 plays to draw first blood. Logan Meyer found Corey White from eight yards out and Steve Grzywacz added the extra point to make it 7-0 4:08 into the contest.
Later in the quarter, the Hawks went with the pooch punt from Murphy facing a fourth-and-11 at Stonehill's 35-yard line. The Skyhawks fumbled the kick and junior WR Ahkeen Williams (DeWitt, N.Y.) fell on the ball at the 11. After a loss of a yard on the ensuing play, Murphy hit senior WR Nick Marcella (North Bridgton, Maine) over the middle for 11 yards. Murphy then dove in from a yard out three plays later and Saint Anselm tied it up at seven following the point-after from sophomore K/P Shane Grayson (Ormond Beach, Fla.) with 1:37 on the clock.
After a back-and-forth punt battle for most of the second quarter, Stonehill threw up a three-play, 70-yard drive that took just 1:37 and ended when Meyer hooked up with White again on a 67-yard catch-and-run that gave Meyer the Skyhawks' all-time passing yards record. Grzywacz tacked on the PAT and Stonehill led 14-7 with 5:40 to play in the opening half.
A 42-yard kick return by Charles set the Hawks up with solid field position on the ensuing drive. They moved deep into Stonehill territory, but Grayson's 43-yard field goal try came up just short. The defense stood strong and took the ball back after a three-and-out, but the offense again could not capitalize and gave the ball back on downs.
Stonehill looked content to let the clock run out after a six-yard run by Jamal Johnson, but after Johnson ripped off a 22-yard run, the Skyhawks called timeout with eight seconds left and the ball at the Saint Anselm 44-yard line. Meyer then connected down the right sideline with Reiph, who extended into the end zone as he was tackled with no time on the clock. Grzywack again converted the extra point and the Skyhawks went into the locker room with a 21-7 advantage.
Saint Anselm opened the second half with a five-play, 63-yard drive that was capped by a 48-yard touchdown catch by Charles, who caught a swing pass from Murphy and broke it down the left sideline. Grayson's extra point cut the deficit to 21-14 just 2:02 into the third quarter.
Stonehill responded with a six-play, 71-yard drive of its own that ended with Meyer finding White from 15 yards out with 9:42 to play in the third. Grzywacz added the PAT and the Skyhawks went up 28-14.
On just the second play of the ensuing drive, Murphy had a pass tipped and then intercepted by Nate Morris. Stonehill moved the ball 30 yards over the next eight plays before Grzywacz knocked a 22-yard field goal through the uprights to pad its lead at 31-14 with 5:33 remaining in the third.
The Hawks matched the points after a seven-play, 54-yard drive that resulted in a 41-yard field goal off the foot of Grayson that sliced it to 31-17 with 2:45 left in the third. It was the sixth longest field goal in program history.
Stonehill wasted no time working up a response, however, putting together a four-play, 67-yard drive that was highlighted by a 62-yard pass play from Meyer to Nate Robitaille and then capped by a four-yard TD pass from Meyer to Robitaille. Grzywacz' extra point pushed the Skyhawks' lead to 38-17 with 1:21 on the clock.
The Stonehill defense intercepted Murphy again on the third play of the following drive and set the offense up at the Saint Anselm 11. The Skyhawks needed just three plays before Meyer plunged in from two yards out and Grzywacz added the extra point to make it 45-17 just five seconds into the final quarter.
After the teams traded punts, Saint Anselm moved 53 yards in six plays, highlighted by a 20-yard catch by Williams and a 17-yard grab by junior WR Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.). Charles scampered in from two yards out to trim the gap to 45-24 following the Grayson point-after with 9:38 left.
Stonehill hit back just 16 seconds later as Johnson busted a 66-yard run on the first play of the ensuing drive that opened it up to 52-24 following the Grzywacz kick.
Bernard caught eight passes for 85 yards, while Williams made seven grabs for 75 yards. Junior LB Isaac Jorgensen (Eldersburg, Md.) led the Hawks with nine tackles, while senior DL Lou Licciardi (East Falmouth, Mass.) made eight stops, including three for a loss and half a sack.
Stonehill held a 593-390 advantage in total yards, including 234-110 on the ground.
The Hawks return to action Friday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. when they play host to defending Northeast-10 Champions the University of New Haven at Grappone Stadium. 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 and following us on Twitter @STAHawks.