MANCHESTER, N.H. – Sophomore QB Yianni Gavalas (Manhasset, N.Y.) connected on 31 of 56 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown, while senior WR Ahkeen Williams (DeWitt, N.Y.) made 10 catches for 164 yards in his final career game, as the Saint Anselm College football team came up short in its season finale against Stonehill College, 19-11, in a Northeast-10 Championship Weekend tilt Saturday afternoon at Grappone Stadium.
The Hawks, seeded fifth, finish with their first winning record since the 2000 season and match the program record for wins from that same year as they finish at 6-5 overall. The sixth-seeded Skyhawks end at 5-6.
Gavalas eclipsed 5,000 career passing yards in the game, while Williams reached 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career and now sits third in the single-season record book (1,033). Senior WR Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.) also went over 1,000 yards for the third straight year after a seven-catch, 66-yard performance that put him at 1,028 yards for the season, which is the fourth best mark in program history.
As a team, the Hawks set a new season record for total offense (4,746), tied the second best rushing mark (1,324) and came up just two yards shy of setting a new passing yard record (3,429).
Stonehill came out on the first drive of the game and went 64 yards in just six plays, with QB Matt Foltz finding the end zone on a 21-yard run that made it 6-0 just 3:32 in. Steve Grzywacz' extra-point attempt was blocked by junior DB Carroll Bailey (Clinton, Mass.).
Both offenses somewhat sputtered through the rest of the first quarter, with the Hawks only putting up 21 yards, but a big takeaway and a couple of missed opportunities for Stonehill left the score at 12-0 following Grzywacz field goals of 21 and 32 yards.
The game would head to halftime with Stonehill still leading 12-0 and the Skyhawks would add to their lead early in the third quarter. After the Hawks went three-and-out to start the half, Stonehill crafted another quick drive of 55 yards on six plays that was capped by a Foltz 1-yard sneak to make it 19-0 following the Grzywacz PAT just 4:37 in.
Saint Anselm finally jumped on the board early in the fourth quarter with a 23-yard field goal from junior K/P Shane Grayson (Ormond Beach, Fla.) that followed a seven-play, 71-yard drive and cut the deficit to 19-3 with 12:37 remaining in the contest. Grayson matched Michael Garcarcz' 2003 record of 10 field goals with the boot and also equaled Shea Cerio's 2012 record of 16 punts inside the 20 yard line in the game.
After the Saint Anselm defense forced a three-and-out, the Hawks were driving at midfield when Gavalas was intercepted by Nate Morris. Morris fumbled the return, however, just past the line of scrimmage and the offense was able to pick up where it left off. Gavalas orchestrated a seven-play, 54-yard drive and hit sophomore WR Zach Bartak (Greenfield, Mass.) from 12 yards out for the touchdown. The Hawks then used a bit of trickery to make it a one-score game as Bernard ended up finding Bartak in the right corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion that made it 19-11 with 7:07 on the clock.
The defense forced another three-and-out and the offense drove back down the field before coming up empty on a fourth-and-five at the Stonehill 16-yard line to give the ball back to the Skyhawks with 3:12 remaining.
Stonehill again went three-and-out and the Hawks were going to have the ball back with about a minute-and-a-half left, but they were whistled for a roughing the kicker call on the punt. The penalty gave the Skyhawks a first down and allowed them to run out the clock with three kneel downs.
The Hawks wound up outgaining Stonehill, 336-320, including 329-124 through the air.
Senior OL Zach Lombard (Manchester, Conn.), one of 21 Saint Anselm seniors playing in their final games, set a new program record by competing in his 42nd consecutive contest.