Second Half Surge Leads Southern Connecticut State Past Stonehill, 45-21

Junior Stephan Neville scored two touchdowns, including his third kickoff return for a score this season (7th career), on the opening kickoff of the game today. (PHOTO BY Robert Klein)

Owls erase 21-13 halftime deficit with 25 third quarter points

EASTON, Mass. (October 23, 2010) – Southern Connecticut State University overcame an eight point halftime deficit to claim a 45-21 victory over Stonehill College in Northeast-10 Conference football action before a sold out crowd of over 2,400 at Timothy J. Coughlin Memorial Field at W.B. Mason Stadium on Family Weekend this afternoon.

Southern Connecticut scored 32 unanswered points in the second half to erase a 21-13 halftime deficit, outscoring Stonehill 25-0 in the third quarter alone. The Owls finished with 349 yards of total offense (214 second half), with 222 yards passing and 127 rushing, while forcing four turnovers and scoring off two of them. Stonehill finished with 294 total yards (90 second half), with 204 coming through the air with just 90 on the ground, as they were hit for 114 yards of penalties on the afternoon.

Senior running back John Wiechman (Buxton, Maine) paced the Southern Connecticut attack with 24 carries for 133 yards (5.5/carry) and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Andrew Privott (Middletown, Conn.) caught seven passes for 110 yards, while classmate Kevin Lynch (Medfield, Mass.) completed 15-of-27 passes for 216 yards and two scores.

Senior Derrell Moye (Newark, N.J.) led the Southern defense with a game-high 12 tackles (seven solo), including one for a loss of three yards, while classmate Chevar Rankins (Middletown, Conn.) posted 11 stops (five solo), including three for a loss of nine yards, with one sack for a loss of six. Sophomore Josh McWilliams (Paterson, N.J.) chipped in with seven tackles (five solo) and an interception that he returned 24 yards for a touchdown.

Junior corner back/return specialist Stephan Neville (Foxborough, Mass./Foxborough) led Stonehill by scoring two of their three touchdowns, one with an 89 yard return on the opening kickoff and another on a 35 yard fumble return later in the first quarter. He finished the afternoon with 156 yards on three kick returns (52 yards/return) on special teams while adding four tackles (three solo) and the forced fumble and return on defense.

Sophomore Jonathan Poth (Nahant, Mass./Swampscott) led Stonehill with 11 tackles (five solo), while senior Clark Leger (Waltham, Mass./Trinity Catholic) posted eight stops (four solo), including three sacks for a loss of 14 yards, and one quarterback hurry.

Senior Clark Leger had three sacks for the defense this afternoon.

Senior Eddie Vachon (Newton, Mass./Blair Academy) finished with 79 all-purpose yards, catching six passes for 23 yards to go with 17 carries for 24 yards and a touchdown and adding three kick returns for 32 yards. He finished the game just two yards shy of the program's career rushing record of 2,701 set by Tyrone Jefferson from 1998-2001.

Freshman quarterback Logan Meyer (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure) completed 14-of-24 passes for 116 yards, but had two interceptions and three fumbles. Junior Tim Morrison (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) came on in the second half and completed 10-of-15 passes for 88 yards to go with six rushes for seven yards. Sophomore John Gomes (Hyannis, Mass./Barnstable) added five receptions for 56 yards, while junior Danny Carducci (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill) led the team with 40 rushing yards – all of which came on a fake punt that led to Vachon's second quarter scoring run.

Southern scored on five of its first six possessions in the second half to take control. Wiechman capped the Owls opening drive of the second half with a two-yard scoring run at the end of a six-play, 68 yard drive, that drew SCSU within two (21-19) after the extra point was missed. After a Stonehill punt, Southern took the lead for good (25-21) on its second drive of the quarter when Lynch connected with sophomore Nick Mandich (Miami, Fla.) for a 17-yard scoring pass that capped an eight play, 58 yard drive. Lynch completed 4-of-6 passes on the drive for 51 yards.

Southern extended its lead to 11 points (32-21) when Wiechman scored on a one yard plunge one play after junior Gavin Nelson (Cambridge, Mass.) returned a Stonehill fumble 32 yards to the one. The Owls scored again on its next drive on a two-yard carry by sophomore Patrick Collins (Manchester, Conn.) at the end of a five-play 46-yard drive. SCSU capped the scoring 1:09 into the fourth quarter when Lynch connected with sophomore Jerome Cunningham (Waterbury, Conn.) for a 30-yard touchdown pass.

Senior Eddie Vachon finished with 79 all-purpose yards and a touchdown, moving within two yards of the program's career rushing record. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Stonehill stormed out of the gates as Neville took the opening kickoff 89 yards for his third touchdown return of the year (seventh career) – all coming in the Skyhawks last three home games. Stonehill kept Southern's offense quiet on its first two possessions, but the Owls tied the score with eight minutes to go in the first quarter when McWilliams picked off Meyer at the Stonehill 24 on third and 11 and raced it in for the score.

The Skyhawks regained the lead with 28-seconds to go in the opening stanza when Neville forced a fumble by Privott at the Southern 35, scooped it up and raced in for a score. Southern drew within one midway through the second quarter when Collins punched it in from a yard out to cap a seven play, 57-yard drive. Stonehill maintained the lead when the extra point was off the mark.

Stonehill answered on its next drive as Vachon scored his record 25th career rushing touchdown (32nd career overall) from eight yards out. The scoring run came one play after Carducci took the direct snap on a fake punt on fourth and seven from the Southern 48 and ran it down to the eight and keep the drive alive.

Stonehill (3-4, 1-4 NE-10) is back in action next Saturday when it travels to Manchester, N.H., for the annual "Battle for the Ol' Bronze Hawk" at Saint Anselm College at noon. The Skyhawks return home the following weekend, Saturday, November 3, to host Assumption College on Senior Day and Easton Appreciation Day at noon. Southern Connecticut State (4-4, 4-2 NE-10) has a bye next weekend before visiting Merrimack College on Saturday, November 6, at 1 p.m.

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