Junior Stephan Neville has matched NCAA Division II records for kickoff return touchdowns in a season and career with his 79-yard return at Saint Anselm on Saturday. (PHOTO BY Robert Klein)
Neville earns second-straight Special Teams Player of the Week award
Bennett named Rookie of the Week for second time this season
EASTON, Mass. (November 1, 2010) – Two members of the Stonehill College football team collected weekly awards from the Northeast-10 Conference this afternoon for their efforts in a 41-27 victory at Saint Anselm College in The Battle for the Ol' Bronze Hawk.
Junior cornerback/kick returner Stephan Neville (Foxborough, Mass./Foxborough) earned Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second-straight week, while freshman safety Tim Bennett (Fillmore, Calif./Saint Bonaventure) was named Rookie of the Week for the second time this season.
Neville, who earns the first year NE-10 weekly award for the second time, had a clear impact on Saturday's win despite touching the ball just twice on special teams by returning two kicks for 85 yards (42.5/return) including a game-clinching 79-yard touchdown return right after Saint Anselm had closed within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to seal the win for Stonehill. In an effort to try to keep the ball out of one of the top return men in Division II history, Saint Anselm squib kicked the ball on kickoffs all afternoon, providing the Skyhawks with an average starting field position of midfield on its five kickoffs for the day. Neville also added six tackles (four solo), an interception and three pass breakups on defense for Stonehill on Saturday.
Saturday's touchdown return was the NCAA Division II leading fourth of the season for Neville, breaking his own school record and matching the NCAA Division II single-season mark set by Merrimack College's Andrew Jackson in 2004. Neville now has a school and NCAA Division II record matching eight kickoff returns for touchdown in his career – matching the Division II record set by Winona State University's Dave Ludy from 1991-94. Neville, whose four touchdown returns this season lead all four divisions of NCAA football, is two touchdown returns shy of the All-Divisions record of ten set by Larry Beavers from Division III Wesley College from 2004-05. Neville's four touchdown returns have all come in the Skyhawks last five games, including each of the last two weeks.
Neville leads the NE-10 (2nd nationally) for the second-straight year in kick return average with 32.2 yards per return (nearly ten yards per return more than second place), returning 23 kickoffs for 740 yards to go with four punt returns for seven yards and one interception return for 37 yards for 784 all-purpose yards (10th NE-10). On defense, Neville has recorded 31 tackles (20 solo) with an NE-10 leading nine passes defended, including seven pass breakups (2nd NE-10) and two interceptions (10th), with a forced fumble and fumble recovery that he returned 35 yards for a touchdown against Southern Connecticut State University on October 23, giving him five total touchdown returns for the season – just one shy of the Division II record for total runbacks accomplished three times, most recently by Shepherd University's Bootsie Washington (1 INT, 4 PR, 1 KR) in 1997. Neville is second on the team in scoring with 30 points (3.75 ppg).
Neville, the first player in program history to earn first team All-Northeast-10 honors at two positions as sophomore with his selection as both a corner and return specialist, has played 28 games over his career and returned 62 kicks for 2,076 yards (33.5/return), including two of his eight career touchdown returns for a career-long 94 yards. His first 94-yarder came on the opening kickoff of last year's 23-21 victory over No. 24-ranked Bentley University in the final game of the season. He matched that by taking back the opening kickoff of the second half in week five this season against the University of New Haven. Neville, who also earned All-Northeast-10 honors as a return specialist and a spot on the All-Rookie Team as a freshman, led all of Division II when he averaged 36.7 yards per return his sophomore season.
Neville has totaled 121 tackles (82 solo) over his career on defense for Stonehill, posting 2.5 career tackles for a loss, 11 interceptions with another 18 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Bennett earns his second Rookie of the Week award after playing a key role in Saturday's victory with five tackles (four solo), including a season-high 1.5 for a loss of four yards, an interception that he returned 30 yards for his first career touchdown, and two other pass breakups. His team-leading fourth interception of the season came midway through the third quarter two plays after Stonehill had taken the lead for good (27-20) and he took it back 30 yards for his first collegiate touchdown, marking the Skyhawks first interception return for a touchdown since Greg Sanzari picked off a Pace University pass and returned it 23 yards for a score on October 10, 2009.
Bennett has made an immediate impact on defense for Stonehill in his first collegiate season, leading the Skyhawks with four interceptions (3rd NE-10) to go with 31 tackles (27 solo), including 2.5 for a loss of six yards, and three pass breakups. He earned NE-10 Rookie of the Week honors for the first time after contributing four solo stops and a pass breakup in Stonehill's week two win over Pace. Bennett registered a season-high six tackles (five solo) in back-to-back weeks against the University of New Haven (10/2) and Pace (10/16) and has picked off a pass in three-straight games since moving into the starting lineup and four of the last five weeks overall.
Stonehill (4-4, 2-4 NE-10) is back in action on Saturday when it hosts Assumption College on Senior and Easton Appreciation Day at Timothy J. Coughlin Memorial Field at W.B. Mason Stadium at noon.