Junior defensive back Jareed Gaines filled the stat sheet on defense for Stonehill with ten tackles, including two for a loss, a sack and two fumble recoveries. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)
Gaines leads defensive effort, Willis and Troy power ground game in season-opening win
Stonehill recognized teammate Henry Thevenin, '14 (Brockton, Mass.), who passed away in June after a two month battle with leukemia, with a "Moment of Applause" before kickoff and then the team honored the defensive lineman by taking the field with ten defensive players on the opening play from scrimmage. Curry gained five yards on the ground on the play, but the Skyhawks didn't yield a first down on the first series. The Skyhawks have dedicated the 2011 season to Thevenin and the team will wear his number 91 on their helmets for the year, while also wearing wristbands with "HT" and "91" stitched on them.
Junior defensive back Jareed Gaines (Lumberton, N.J./Rancocas Valley) led the Stonehill defensive effort which held Curry to just a second quarter touchdown and forced four turnovers on the night with a team-best ten tackles (five solo), including two for a loss of six yards, a sack and two fumble recoveries, the second of which he returned 23 yards in the fourth quarter that ended a Curry drive in Skyhawks territory.
Junior Fabrice Dragon (Stoughton, Mass./Cardinal Spellman) added nine tackles, while classmate Kevin Anderson (Topsfield, Mass./Masconomet) contributed seven stops (six solo), including two for a loss of five yards, a forced fumble and two pass breakups. Junior James Hodges (Wethersfield, Conn./Cushing Academy) contributed an interception, which he returned 38 yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Justin Willis (East Haven, Conn./Notre Dame) and junior Jermetrius Troy (Mattapan, Mass./Tilton School) combined to log 192 yards rushing, with a touchdown apiece. Willis finished with a game-high 99 yards on the first 20 carries of his collegiate career (4.9 yds/carry) and a touchdown on the fifth play of the Skyhawks first offensive series. Troy added 93 yards on 19 carries (4.9/rush) with a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Neal Dotterer (Macedon, N.Y./Gananda) also made his collegiate debut and completed 17-of-30 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Four of his passes went to sophomore Paul Piccirillo (Shelton, Conn./Shelton) for 37 yards. In all ten different Skyhawks had receptions, including senior Danny Carducci (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill), who hauled in a 27 yard touchdown pass to cap the second quarter scoring and send the Skyhawks into halftime with a 28-7 lead.
Sophomore running back Justin Willis rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown in his collegiate debut. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)
Junior Rob Bambini (Westwood, Mass.) led the way for Curry as he caught 14 passes for 169 yards and the lone touchdown that knotted the score 34-second into the second quarter. Senior quarterback Mark Gilson (Mansfield, Mass.) was 15-for-21 for 129 yards and the touchdown with no interceptions, while classmate Anthony Carnevale (Oradell, N.J.) completed 10-of-26 passes for 124 yards and an interception. Sophomore Phil Bigelow (East Orange, N.J.) carried the ball nine times for 56 yards (6.2/carry).
Junior Dan McLaughlin (Woburn, Mass.) led the Curry defense with a game-high 13 tackles (eight solo), including two for a loss of seven yards and a forced fumble. Sophomore Luke Soccorso (Foxboro, Mass.) added 12 stops (ten solo), while grad student Mike Whittaker (Milton, Mass.) posted eight tackles, including 2.5 for a loss of five yards.
Stonehill opened the scoring 1:34 into the game when Willis capped the Skyhawks first offensive series with a 15 yard touchdown run – the first of his career. He carried the ball four times during the possession for 30 yards in the five play, 45 yard drive.
Curry knotted the score 34-seconds into the second quarter as Bambini's 20 yard touchdown catch from Gilson capped an eight play, 80-yard drive over 2:28.
Stonehill regained the lead on its next possession when sophomore Jamal Johnson (Brockton, Mass./Brockton) capped a nine play, 62 yard drive with his first career touchdown from five yards out. Johnson had three carries for 27 yards on the drive, while Willis racked up 27 yards on four touches.
Curry fumbled the ball away on its first play of the next series and Stonehill capitalized with a ten play, 31 yard scoring drive to open a 21-7 lead after a one yard scoring plunge from Troy who had 24 of the 31 yards during the drive on six rushes. The Skyhawks carried a 28-7 lead into halftime after a diving grab by Carducci off a 27 yard pass from Dotterer with 18 second remaining in the half on fourth and 12. That capped a seven play, 54 yard drive for the Skyhawks.
Stonehill finished with 322 yards of total offense with 221 rushing and 206 through the air, committing just one turnover on the night. The Skyhawks were 2-for-16 on third down conversions, but 6-for-7 on fourth down. Curry racked up 379 yards of total offense, with 253 passing and 126 rushing, but was hurt by the four turnovers.
Stonehill (1-0, 0-0 NE-10) is back in action next Saturday when it visits Pace University for a non-conference clash at 1 p.m. The Skyhawks return home on Friday, September 16, to host Bentley University in their Northeast-10 Conference opener at 7 p.m.