SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Senior RB Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.) amassed 251 all-purpose yards and scored three times, but the Saint Anselm College football team – despite being tied at halftime – fell to American International College, 41-21, Saturday afternoon at Abdow Field.
The Hawks drop to 0-8 on the season, including 0-7 in Northeast-10 play, while the Yellow Jackets improve to 6-2, 6-1 NE-10 and pull into a first-place tie atop the standings.
Charles, who finished the day with 5,064 career all-purpose yards to become the second in program to reach 5,000 all-purpose yards, rushed 26 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns and caught nine passes for 118 yards and another score. Junior WR Ahkeen Williams (DeWitt, N.Y.) submitted his best game of the year with nine catches for 114 yards. Freshman QB Yianni Gavalas (Manhasset, N.Y.), making his first career start, completed 29 of 43 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown, but also threw three interceptions.
Saint Anselm busted out of the gate as Charles received a pass from Gavalas on the first play from scrimmage and raced 65 yards for a touchdown that made it 7-0 after the extra point by sophomore K/P Shane Grayson (Ormond Beach, Fla.) only 20 seconds into the contest.
The Hawks kept it going on defense as Kevin Arduino's pass on the first play of the ensuing drive was picked off by junior LB Isaac Jorgensen (Eldersburg, Md.) at the 50-yard line.
After the Hawks went three-and-out and Grayson's punt pinned the Yellow Jackets at their own 4-yard line, Arduino capped the five-play, 96-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown rush that tied the game after Jared Husley's kick with 10:29 to go in the opening quarter.
AIC grabbed its first lead of the game on its next possession after getting the ball back at the Saint Anselm 4-yard line following an interception by Andrew Justice. Hunter Beckmann covered the four yards with a run on the first play of the drive that made it 14-7 with 7:34 left after the Husley PAT.
Saint Anselm looked to respond as it moved the ball 62 yards in 12 plays on the ensuing drive, but Grayson had his 28-yard field goal attempt blocked by Justice to end the drive.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Hawks' offense picked up where it left off on its last drive and went 57 yards in 13 plays, with Charles finding the end zone from 12 yards out 1:03 into the second quarter. Grayson's extra point knotted the game at 14 and the teams would go into the locker room that way after trading punts on four straight drives.
Saint Anselm began its first drive of the second half from the AIC 19-yard line after making a fourth-down stop. The Yellow Jackets turned the tables, however, when Gavalas was intercepted at the 5-yard line by Daquan Holmes, who ran it out to the 32. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Arduino hit Matt Brown for a 68-yard touchdown that gave AIC a 20-14 lead with 12:31 left in the third after the snap on the extra point was fumbled.
American International then expanded its lead to 34-14 on a pair of drives of the opposite length. Beckmann polished off a six-play, 99-yard drive with a two-yard rush with 8:34 on the clock in the third before Arduino went in from a yard out to make up the one-play, one-yard drive that made it a three-score game just 1:14 later.
The Hawks answered to make it 34-21 with 4:21 to play in the third quarter when Charles finished off a nine-play, 65-yard drive with a one-yard jaunt, but Michael Rivas closed the scoring 3:07 into the fourth quarter with a 22-yard touchdown run.
Freshman RB Joe Hayman (Brandywine, Md.) ran five times for 25 yards, while junior WR Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.) caught seven passes, but was held to just 40 yards. Senior DB Trevor Jessie (Cumberland, Md.) led the defense with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery.
AIC held a narrow 475-462 advantage in total offense.
The Hawks return to action Friday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. when they play host to Long Island University-LIU Post 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.