NE-10 CHAMPIONSHIP: AIC Claims NE-10 Title Over Stonehill, 27-17

Junior Brian Harrington matched his career high with 17 tackles this afternoon, breaking the single-season NE-10 record with 151 tackles. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)

Arduino scores three touchdowns, Yellow Jackets defense limits Skyhawks to 173 yards

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (November 16, 2013) – American International College held Stonehill College to 173 yards and forced five turnovers to earn its first Northeast-10 Conference Championship game victory with a 27-17 decision in front of 3,453 at Ronald J. Abdow Field this afternoon.

Junior Kevin Arduino (Cornwall, N.Y./Cornwall Central) posted 304 total yards of offense and scored three touchdowns to lead American International to the victory and was named the NE-10 Championship's Most Outstanding Player for his efforts. He rushed the ball 23 times for 101 yards and three scores, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, and completed 17-of-31 passes for 203 yards without an interception.

The American International defense held Stonehill to 173 total yards on the day, with 160 passing and just 13 on the ground, forcing five turnovers, including four interceptions, with four sacks. The Yellow Jackets held the Skyhawks to 3-for-14 on third down and the best red-zone offense in the NE-10 to just 1-for-2 on a field goal. AIC also dominated time of possession, 37:25 to 22:35.

Sophomore Demetrius Steed (Boston, Mass./Bedford) led the AIC defense with six tackles (five solo), including 2.5 for a loss of eight yards, and 0.5 sacks for a loss of four. Junior Carron McCluney (Hillside, N.J./Hillside) also collected six stops (five solo), while sophomore Andrew Justice (Brooklyn, N.Y./Abraham Lincoln) posted four tackles (three solo), including 2.5 for a loss of 11, with 1.5 sacks for a loss of six. Sophomore Darion Chappel (New York, N.Y./Boys & Girls) had two of the Yellow Jackets four interceptions, broke up two other passes and chipped in two solo tackles.

Junior Taylor Russell posted a pair of sacks on the day. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)

Junior Maurice Easterling (Yonkers, N.Y./Archbishop Stepinac) rushed the ball 15 times for 90 yards and a touchdown for AIC, adding four receptions for 36 yards to finish with a game-high 126 all-purpose yards. Classmate Stephan Davis (Selden, N.Y./Newfield) chipped in with five receptions for 62 yards. AIC posted 427 total yards with 224 on the ground and another 203 through the air.

Stonehill's defense did all it could to keep the Skyhawks in the game and allow the offense to get going. Junior Brian Harrington (Rockland, Mass./Rockland) capped off his breakout season with a career-high matching 17 tackles (career-high matching 11 solo), breaking the NE-10 single-season record of 148 tackles by Joe Streany of Pace University in 2007. Harrington, who finishes the year with 151 stops, posted his tenth double-figure tackle output in 11 games this season and also registered 1.5 tackles for a loss of seven yards today.

Junior Sterry Codrington (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Boro) added ten stops (eight solo), a forced fumble and fumble recovery and was named to the NE-10 All-Championship team for his efforts. Senior captain Tim Bennett (Fillmore, Calif./Saint Bonaventure) capped his collegiate career with a season-high matching ten tackles (six solo), including 1.5 for a loss of five yards. Junior Taylor Russell (Keene, N.H./Keene) chipped in with four solo tackles, including 2.0 sacks for a loss of 11.

Senior captain Logan Meyer (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure) completed 9-of-26 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, finishing his record-breaking career with a record 6,927 yards, 545 completions and 62 touchdown passes. He also broke his own single-season record set last season with 2,266 passing yards this season and finished with a single-season record 26 touchdown passes.

Junior Nate Robitaille (Attleboro, Mass./Attleboro) caught six passes for 84 yards and a touchdown and joined Codrington on the All-Championship team with junior offensive lineman Tom Linden (Durham, Conn./Xavier). Robitaille finished the year with a single-season program record 1,227 all-purpose yards and his touchdown catch today give him 13 for the season, matching the single-season program mark set by Mike Plichta in 2005. Sophomore Colin Markus (Monroe, Conn./Masuk) chipped in with 13 carries for 41 yards on the afternoon.

AIC struck on the opening possession of the game with a nine play, 65 yard drive, capped by a one yard touchdown plunge by Arduino on third and goal. He was also 3-for-3 for 38 yards during the drive.

Junior Nate Robitaille collected his program record-matching 13th touchdown catch of the year and set a new single-season record for all-purpose yardage today. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)

After turning the ball over on its next possession, Stonehill got on the scoreboard on its third possession of the game with Meyer engineering a six play, 66 yard drive, capped by a 40-yard scoring pass to Robitaille on third and seven for a 7-6 lead after the Yellow Jackets misses its extra point attempt. Meyer was 4-for-5 for 63 yards on the possession. Stonehill regained possession on the AIC seven yard line after a poor snap on a punt attempt was covered up. The Skyhawks were unable to take full advantage of the miscue and settled for a 25-yard field goal by sophomore Steve Grzywacz (Manchester, N.H./Manchester Central) for a 10-6 lead with 3:40 left in the quarter.

AIC regained the lead early in the second quarter with a ten play, 71 yard drive over 4:39, capped by an Easterling three yard touchdown run. The Yellow Jackets converted twice on third and long during the possession, including a 20 yard pass by Arduino to Davis on third and 17 from the Yellow Jackets 34 that not only got a first down, but put them in Stonehill territory.

The AIC defense began to turn up the pressure, forcing Stonehill to punt on six straight possessions into the third quarter after a fumble ended its first drive of the second quarter. Four straight AIC penalties gave the Skyhawks first and ten from the 11, but Meyer had a costly fumble. Stonehill gained an AIC fumble on the Yellow Jackets 31 later in the quarter, but was backed up to the 40 three plays later and forced to punt.

AIC extended its lead to 20-10 on its first possession of the second half with a 23 yard touchdown run by Arduino on third and nine at the end of an eight play, 77 yard drive over 4:14. Stonehill's defense pulled the Skyhawks back within three after a Ryan Handy (Howell, N.J./Howell) punt pinned the Yellow Jackets on their own one. Arduino ran the first play up the middle to get away from the end zone, but was stripped by a Stonehill defender and junior Nate Morris (Providence, R.I./Wheeler School) collected the fumble and scurried into the end zone from eight yards out for his second return for a score this season.

AIC regained its ten point lead with 37-seconds to play in the third quarter off an interception as Arduino found the end zone from 18 yards out after a 14 yard completion to Easterling. Stonehill had three fourth quarter possessions, but was intercepted twice and turned the ball over on downs the other to seal its fate.

American International (9-2, 8-1 NE-10), which completes the NE-10 regular season and championship game double, will likely earn an NCAA Tournament bid during tomorrow's selection show and will open NCAA play next Saturday. Stonehill sees its breakout season come to an end with an 8-3 record overall, including an 8-1 mark in Conference play to claim a share of its first NE-10 regular season championship. The Skyhawks posted their first winning season since 1996 when Stonehill finished 8-2 and fell just a win shy of the single-season program mark of 9-2 in 1995.

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