MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior RB Elad Covaliu (Rockville, Md.) rushed for a program-record 259 yards, including a school-record 88-yard sprint in the second quarter, and two touchdowns, but the Saint Anselm College football team lost a 24-21 heartbreaker to defending Northeast-10 Champion Long Island University-LIU Post in its home opener at Grappone Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
- Covaliu ran for his 259 yards and two scores on just 20 carries, adding his 12.9 yards per carry average as his third single-game record of the day. Covaliu, who also caught a pass for 13 yards, totaled up 272 all-purpose yards on the afternoon, ranking sixth in the program record book.
- Junior WR Zach Bartak (Greenfield, Mass.) had another big game for the Hawks as he set career highs in both receptions (9) and receiving yards (140), while reeling in a touchdown grab.
- Junior LB Kyrel Jaundoo (Mattapan, Mass.) registered a team-high 12 tackles, including a sack, while junior DB Shaun Callahan (Norwood, Mass.), making his second career start, notched a career-best 11 tackles, including seven solo stops. Junior LB Josh Garrett (Riviera Beach, Fla.) and senior DB Elijah Thomas (Gaithersburg, Md.) were also in double figures with 10 tackles each.
For the foes…
- Jeff Kidd was 26-for-45 with 227 yards passing and two touchdowns.
- Shane Hubbard caught six passes for 73 yards and two scores.
- Freddrick McMillan amassed a game-best 13 tackles, while Brandon Cheney made 10 stops and forced a pair of fumbles.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Following a 29-yard field goal from Zach Kolodny that gave the Pioneers an early 3-0 lead with 4:55 left in the first quarter, Saint Anselm had a chance to even the game on the ensuing drive, but a 36-yard field goal attempt from senior K/P Shane Grayson (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was no good and may have been tipped at the line of scrimmage.
- The game remained 3-0 in favor of the visitors until late in the second quarter when an LIU Post punt was downed at the Saint Anselm 12-yard line and on the first play of the drive, Covaliu took the ball, drove right up the middle and outran four defenders to put the Hawks in front, 7-3, with 4:05 left in the half.
- Saint Anselm had a chance to add to its lead on the first possession of the second half, but Grayson pulled a 37-yard field goal just to the left and it would remain a four-point game.
- LIU Post would go back up two drives later on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Kidd to Hubbard that made it 10-7 with 6:58 to play in the third.
- The Pioneers pushed the lead to 10 at the end of the third quarter as Malik Pierre's 1-yard jaunt capped a 14-play, 76-yard drive that ate up the final five minutes of the frame and opened the advantage to 17-7.
- With junior QB Yianni Gavalas (Manhasset, N.Y.) banged up on the first drive of the final quarter, senior QB Cam McLevedge (Weymouth, Mass.) entered the game and, on his first throw, connected with Bartak down the right sideline for a 45-yard touchdown that trimmed the Saint Anselm deficit to 17-14 with 13:07 remaining.
- Two possessions later, Covaliu was at it again as he opened the drive with a six-yard run and then wasted no time as he dashed 67 yards on the ensuing play – the eighth longest run from scrimmage in program history – to give the Hawks the lead for the first time since midway through the quarter at 21-17 with 9:37 to play.
- LIU Post was not done, however, as a nice kick return began the ensuing drive with good field position. The Pioneers then went the remaining 51 yards on just six plays in 1:35 to go back on top, 24-21, with 7:52 left.
- A fumble at the LIU Post 16-yard line with 5:25 left and a punt with 2:10 on the clock thwarted the Hawks' final two drives.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- Saint Anselm outgained LIU Post in total yards of offense, 517-389, including 284-162 on the ground and 233-227 through the air. The 284 rushing yards as a team ranks as the fifth best performance in program history.
- The Saint Anselm defense came up big again as it held the Northeast-10's top offense in scoring (40.5), total yards (521.0) and passing (311.0) well under its season averages to this point. They also were able to get to Kidd for three sacks.
- While the LIU Post offense did not perform as well as the Saint Anselm offense, the Pioneers defense did force three turnovers and stop the Hawks on all three of their trips to the red zone. LIU Post was 3-for-3 on red zone opportunities and did not turn the ball over all day. The Pioneers were also 8-for-23 on third-down conversions, while Saint Anselm was just 2-for-12.
- Gavalas was 14 of 21 for 160 yards and an interception, while McLevedge went 5-for-7 for 73 yards and the touchdown.
- Covaliu's 259 yards on the ground breaks the previous record of 241 yards, set by Luke St. Marie on Oct. 10, 2008 at Merrimack College. The 88-yard jolt tops an 80-yard touchdown run by Michael Pierce on Oct. 22, 2011 at Pace University and the 12.9 yards per carry best Keith Charles' old record of 10.8, which was set at home against Pace on Oct. 13, 2012.
- Covaliu, who needed 244 yards at the beginning of the day to become the sixth Saint Anselm rusher ever to reach 1,000 yards in a career, joins Derek DiMartino (2,451; 2002-04), Keith Charles (2,179; 2010-13), Jon Turner (2,009; 1999-01), Marc Wilson (1,626; 2008-11) and Kevin Ridgley (1,301; 2000-03) in just over one season of play as those to accomplish the feat.
- It is the third two-touchdown game of his career and first of the season for Covaliu, who is now fourth all-time in program history with 12 rushing TDs. Covaliu's third career 100-yard rushing game and first of the season places him fifth all-time in that category.
- How accurate had Grayson been in the field goal department coming into the game? His 67.9 percent (19-28) career mark was tops among all Saint Anselm kickers and it was the first time Grayson has ever missed two field goals in a game. In fact, Grayson had only missed consecutive field goal tries one other time in his career (Oct. 19-26, 2013). Going back to Sept. 13 of last season, Grayson had made 12 straight field goals without missing one that wasn't blocked.
- LIU Post, which is receiving votes in the AFCA Division II Coaches' Top 25 Poll this week, is one of two remaining undefeated teams in the Northeast-10 and is 3-0 for the first time since 2002.
- The Hawks return to action Saturday, Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. when they travel to take on American International College at Abdow Field.
- Saint Anselm is home again Saturday, Oct. 3 at noon for a Homecoming tilt against Assumption College at Grappone.