Nov. 7, 2009

Courtesy of Stonehill

EASTON, Mass. (November 7, 2009) – Stonehill College forced Bentley University, ranked 24th in this week’s American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll, to settle for a share of the Conference championship by posting a 23-21 victory in Northeast-10 football action before a sellout crowd of 2,400-plus on Senior Day as part of Family Weekend at W.B. Mason Stadium this afternoon.

Stonehill closes out its 2009 season winners of three-straight and four of its last five to finish even at 5-5 overall and 4-4 in the Northeast-10. The Skyhawks posted a 3-1 record at home and finished .500 for the second time under third-year head coach Rob Talley – the only two occasions for the Skyhawks since a six-year span in the early to mid-1990’s.

Bentley (8-2, 6-2 NE-10) will likely still receive an NCAA Championships bid when they are announced tomorrow night, but falls into a three-way tie for the NE-10 title with Southern Connecticut State University and Merrimack College and will likely now be sent on the road for the first round next weekend.

Junior running back Eddie Vachon (Newton, Mass./Blair Academy) led Stonehill with 208 all-purpose yards – just eight shy of his season-high – to become the program’s all-time leader in that category with 3,281 in 36 career games. Vachon passes Mike McSharry who compiled 3,111 yards from 1995-97. Vachon gashed the Falcons, ranked second in the NE-10 for rushing defense, for 176 yards on 26 carries (6.8/rush) with a touchdown to go with four receptions for 14 yards and a combined 18 yards on three punt/kick returns.

Freshman Jareed Gaines (Lumberton, N.J./Rancocas Valley) led the Stonehill defense with eight tackles (six solo), including 1.0 for a loss of two yards, a pass breakup and blocked field goal. Junior Steven Good (Green Harbor, Mass./Marshfield) also finished with eight tackles (four solo), while freshman Kevin Anderson (Topsfield, Mass./Masconomet) added seven stops (all solo).

unior Bryant Johnson (Hopedale, Mass.) completed 28-of-36 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for Bentley. Ten of those completions went to graduate student Kelley Rowe (Toledo, Ohio) for 85 yards and he also rushed the ball four times for seven yards and completed a pass for 16. Junior Kyle Tuthill (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) caught six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.

Senior linebacker Matt Zahoruiko (North Andover, Mass.) led the Bentley defense with a game-high 12 tackles (eight solo), including a sack for a loss of nine yards. Junior Mark Dolan (Barrington, R.I.) added nine stops (eight solo).

Bentley finished with 378 yards of total offense with 311 passing and just 67 rushing, while Stonehill posted 275 total yards with 209 rushing and 66 through the air.

Stonehill used two lengthy fourth quarter drives to pull out the win. Senior Brendan Gorey (West Islip, N.Y./West Islip) capped a 14-play, 76-yard drive, that spanned 7:31 over the third and fourth quarters with a 19-yard field goal to put the Skyhawks back in front (17-14) with 11:10 remaining in the game.

Bentley drove to the Stonehill 22 on its next drive, but was forced to settle for a field goal attempt when Gaines broke up a Johnson pass on third and ten. Gaines made an impact again as be broke through the Falcons line and blocked the 39-yard field goal attempt by senior Tyler McNamara (Medway, Mass.), who had earlier missed from 28-yards in the third quarter with a chance to give the Falcons the lead.

Stonehill responded to the break by driving 80-yards on 15 plays on a drive that amassed 6:29 for a game-breaking touchdown to open a nine-point cushion (23-14) with 1:45 to play. The Skyhawks converted twice on fourth down during the drive, including the 19-yard touchdown pass by sophomore Tim Morrison (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) to freshman John Gomes (Hyannis, Mass./Barnstable) on fourth and five at the Bentley 19. Sophomore Chris Rooney (Quincy, Mass./Catholic Memorial) converted a fourth and seven at the Stonehill 36 with a 14-yard run on a fake punt earlier in the drive. Vachon added 38 rushing yards on that drive as well.

Bentley pulled within two points (23-21) when Johnson capped a seven play, 55-yard drive over the next 40-seconds with a five yard touchdown pass to Slattery with 1:05 to play. Johnson was 5-for-6 for 55 yards on the scoring drive for the Falcons. However, Stonehill pounced on the onside kick and took two knees with the Falcons out of timeouts to seal the win.

Stonehill led 14-0 after just a minute of play as sophomore Stephan Neville (Foxborough, Mass./Foxborough) took the opening kickoff 94-yards for his third touchdown return of the season (fourth career). The Skyhawks quickly got the ball right back as junior Bart Stires (Glendale, Ariz.) fumbled the kickoff and it was recovered by freshman Bernard Mathis (Baldwin, N.Y./Long Island Lutheran) at the Falcons 28. Vachon scampered in from 28 yards out two plays later for his seventh touchdown of the year.

Bentley cut into the deficit on its first possession when Johnson connected with freshman Jack Pizzotti (Melrose, Mass.) for a 23-yard touchdown pass to cap an eight play, 69-yard drive with 9:21 remaining in the first quarter. Johnson was a meticulous 8-for-8 for 85 yards on the drive. The Falcons evened the score on its first drive of the second quarter when Johnson found Tuthill for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 8:30 left in the first half to cap a ten play, 62-yard drive.

Neither team scored for the next 30 minutes until Gorey’s field goal midway through the fourth quarter. This afternoon marked the final game in the collegiate career for 18 Stonehill seniors.