Second Half Rally Lifts American International Past Stonehill, 28-17

Senior Jareed Gaines (26) posted a career-high 14 tackles to move into fourth place on Stonehill's career tackles list. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Yellow Jackets score 21 second half points to claim victory

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (October 5, 2012) – American International College climbed out of a ten point halftime deficit with 21 unanswered points in the second half to claim a 28-17 victory over Stonehill College in Northeast-10 Conference football action at Ronald J. Abdow Field tonight.

American International erased a 17-7 halftime lead by piling up 24:12 of possession time in the second half, limiting Stonehill to just 15 offensive plays after halftime, including three in the third quarter. The Yellow Jackets finished with 384 yards of total offense, including 309 on the ground, while the Skyhawks were held to 136 total yards, with 56 rushing and 80 passing, and just nine first downs on the night.

Sophomore quarterback Robert Arduino (Cornwall, N.Y./Cornwall Central) led AIC with 175 total yards, rushing the ball 18 times for 100 yards and a touchdown while also completing 8-of-17 passes for 75 yards and another score. Junior Bryant Fitzgerald (Highland Park, N.J./Kimball Union Academy) added 16 carries for 78 yards and a score, while freshman Hunter Beckmann (Shrewsbury, Mass./Bridgton Academy) contributed 61 yards and a touchdown on 15 touches.

Sophomore Jaquawne Simpkins (Poughkeepsie, N.Y./Poughkeepsie) led the Yellow Jackets defense with seven tackles (five solo), while senior Markell Rice (New Rochelle, N.Y./New Rochelle) intercepted two passes and added a tackle. Junior Justin Tervo (Millbury, Mass./Millbury) chipped in with five tackles (four solo), including 1.0 sacks for a loss of three yards.

Senior Jareed Gaines (Lumberton, N.J./Rancocas Valley) led Stonehill with a career-high 14 tackles (six solo), including 1.5 for a loss of eight yards and 1.0 sacks for a loss of seven. He was able to move from seventh all the way to fourth on the Skyhawks career tackles list with 280.

Sophomore Michael Hogan (Westborough, Mass./St. John's of Shrewsbury) also finished with 14 tackles (four solo), while junior Tim Bennett (Fillmore, Calif./Saint Bonaventure) added a career-best 11 stops (three solo), including 0.5 for a loss of a yard. Senior Ray Bass (Canton, Mass./Canton) rounded out the double-figure tacklers with ten (six solo), including 2.5 for a loss of three yards.

Senior John Gomes (Hyannis, Mass./Barnstable) finished with 115 all-purpose yards as he caught three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown and returned three kickoffs for 72 yards. Junior Justin Willis (East Haven, Conn./Notre Dame) rushed the ball 14 times for 50 yards and a score. Classmate Jesse Hunt (Winchendon, Mass./Oakmont Regional) completed 8-of-21 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore Michael Hogan added 14 stops. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Stonehill jumped out to a 10-0 lead, striking first less than four minutes into the contest after Rice fumbled a punt after the Skyhawks opening drive of the game that Stonehill recovered on the AIC 26. Hunt connected with Gomes for a 20 yard touchdown pass three plays later for the opening score. Junior James Lanier (Westampton, N.K./Rancocas Valley) recovered the Rice fumble.

Stonehill extended its lead just under two minutes into the second quarter when a 36 yard field goal from freshman Stephen Grzywacz (Manchester, N.H./Manchester Central) capped an 11 play, 59 yard drive that stalled at the AIC nine.

American International took advantage of Rice's first interception of the night to get on the scoreboard. Rice intercepted Hunt at the AIC 45 and returned it all the way to the Stonehill 14 where Fitzgerald ran it in two plays later.

Stonehill regained its ten point lead just before halftime after sophomore Nate Morris (Bristol, R.I./Wheeler School) blocked sophomore Daniel Backx's (Evesham, England) punt attempt at the AIC 16 that was recovered by junior John Jenkins (Pittsford, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit) and returned to the seven. After a false start penalty, Willis punched the ball in from six yards out two plays later with 41-seconds left in the half.

American International opened the second half with a grueling 14-play, 78 yard drive that ate up 6:42 on the clock, capped by a three yard touchdown rush by Beckmann. Stonehill went three and out on its first drive of the second half and then the Yellow Jackets took their first lead with a 15-play, 55 yard yard drive that chewed up another 7:09 before Arduino connected with sophomore Gary Farley (Blue Point, N.Y./Bayport-Blue Point) for a one yard scoring toss 1:17 into the fourth quarter.

Stonehill appeared to escape the drive unscathed when a Backx 31 yard field goal was off the mark on fourth and three from the Skyhawks 14, but the visitors were called for roughing the kicker to extend the drive. The Skyhawks went three and out on their next possession as well and the Yellow Jackets took advantage of a tired defense with a 12 play, 80 yard scoring drive over 4:58 to run their lead to two scores (28-17). Arduino capped the drive with a 15 yard scoring jaunt on third and seven with 6:45 left.

Stonehill was unable to effectively move the ball the rest of the way, with its two first downs of the entire second half coming on AIC penalties. The Skyhawks finished with eight yards of total offense in the second.

Stonehill (3-3, 3-2 NE-10) returns home to host Merrimack College for Senior Day next Saturday at noon. The Skyhawks will then host No. 6 University of New Haven the following Thursday night as part of the NCAA Division II Game of the Week package on CBS Sports Network at 8 p.m. American International (4-1, 4-0 NE-10) visits Southern Connecticut State University next Saturday at 1 p.m.