Southern Conn. State Takes Defensive Clash at Stonehill, 17-14

Senior All-American Brian Harrington piled up a career-high 19 tackles this afternoon. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Owls control the ball with 42-minutes of possession time, limit Skyhawks to 236 yards

EASTON, Mass. (October 25, 2014) – Southern Connecticut State University held the ball for nearly 42 minutes to help keep Stonehill College in check and claim a 17-14 victory in Northeast-10 Conference football action at Timothy J. Coughlin Memorial Field at W.B. Mason Stadium this afternoon.

Sophomore Michael Cerisano (Newburgh, New York/Newburgh Free Academy) led the Southern Connecticut State defensive effort which held Stonehill to just seven points and 236 yards of total offense, including 34 on the ground, with nine tackles (four solo), while junior Brian Wilcox (Jericho, Vermont/Mount Mansfield Union) intercepted two passes, including one he returned 25 yards for a touchdown which proved to be the deciding points in the fourth quarter, to go with two stops (one solo) and a quarterback hurry.

Southern held Stonehill to 3-of-9 on third down conversions and 0-for-2 on fourth down. The Owls owned time of possession 41:55 to 18:05, recording over ten minutes of possession time in three of the four quarters, including 11:29 in the second quarter. Southern finished with four interceptions, including two in the fourth quarter, while committing none on the offensive side of the ball.

Freshman Justin Potts (Meriden, Connecticut/Platt) added six tackles (four solo) and a pass breakup for Southern Connecticut. Senior Jonathan Balcacer (Peabody, Massachusetts/Peabody) and sophomore Kayjuan Bynum (Springfield, Massachusetts/Putnam) both contributed interceptions for the Owls, while senior Zachary Williams (Wolcott, Connecticut/Wolcott) chipped in with a sack – just the seventh against Stonehill this season.

Southern finished with 313 total yards, including 175 rushing, as junior Donald Thomas (Bronx, New York/Cardinal Hayes) and freshman quarterback Ray Catapano (Franklin Square, New York/Carey) combined for 120 yards. Catapano posted 188 total yards as he completed 14-of-20 yards for 138 yards to go with 50 yards on 17 carries. Thomas contributed 17 rushes for 70 yards, while junior Robert Thomas (Brooklyn, New York/Fort Hamilton) scored the Owls lone offensive touchdown.

Senior Nate Robitaille posted a career-high 242 all-purpose yards to become the seventh player in program history to surpass 3,000 career yards. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Senior All-American linebacker Brian Harrington (Rockland, Massachusetts/Rockland) led a steady defensive performance for Stonehill with a career-high 19 tackles (three solo), including 0.5 for a loss of a yard, and a quarterback hurry. Classmate Sterry Codrington (Freehold, New Jersey/Freehold Boro) added 12 stops (seven solo), including 1.0 for a loss of a yard and his program record seventh career blocked kick, surpassing former teammate Jareed Gaines, '13 previous mark of six career blocks, with his school-record fifth block of the year.

Junior Anthony Masucci (East Haven, Connecticut/Notre Dame-East Haven) finished with a season-high 11 tackles (six solo), while senior Nate Morris (Bristol, Rhode Island/Wheeler School) chipped in five solo tackles and returned Codrington's blocked field goal 60 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Senior Nate Robitaille (Attleboro, Massachusetts/Attleboro) led the Stonehill offense with a career-high 242 all-purpose yards to surpass 3,000 yards for his career and move into third place all-time in program history with 3,220 career all-purpose yards. Robitaille caught six passes for 122 yards, marking his third straight 100-yard receiving game, moving within one reception of former teammate John Gomes', '13 career mark of 173 receptions and 22 yards from Gomes' career record of 2,442 receiving yards. Robitaille also returned three kickoffs for 82 yards and added 38 yards on three punt returns on the afternoon.

Sophomore quarterback Tom Sydeski (Brockport, New York/Brockport) completed 16-of-35 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted four times, posting his fifth-straight 200 yard passing game. Junior Deontae Ramey-Doe (Dorchester, Massachusetts/BC High) chipped in 64 all-purpose yards with 11 carries for 41 yards to go with three receptions for 23 yards. Sophomore tight end Colin Smith (Ipswich, Massachusetts/The Governor's Academy) chipped in two receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown.

Southern opened the scoring with a grueling 16 play, 98 yard drive on its first possession of the game that consumed 8:32, capped by a one yard touchdown plunge over the pile with 4:58 remaining in the first quarter. Catapano contributed 62 total yards on the drive, converting a fourth and one at the Owls 45 to keep the possession going.

Senior Nate Morris returned a blocked kick 60 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Stonehill came right back down an answered on its next possession as Sydeski connected with an open Smith in the right corner of the end zone for a three yard touchdown toss with 1:42 to play in the opening quarter to cap a six play, 75-yard drive. Sydeski was 4-for-4 passing for 65 yards on the possession, completing key passes to Robitaille for 38 yards and Smith for 15 yards to set up the score.

Stonehill was unable to get a first down on three second quarter possessions and Southern took a 10-7 lead into halftime when junior Jeffrey Groth (Shelton, Connecticut/Shelton) drilled a 41-yard field goal with 26-seconds remaining in the second quarter. The field goal closed out an eight play, 40-yard drive for the Owls.

Neither team scored in the third quarter and then Southern extended its lead to 17-7 when Wilcox picked off Sydeski at the Stonehill 25 and ran it into the end zone for the touchdown. The Skyhawks drove to the Owls 38 on its next possession, but Sydeski was intercepted once again to end the drive.

Southern Connecticut drove to the Stonehill 30 and prepared to attempt a 47-yard field goal by Groth for a 13 point lead with five minutes to play. Codrington got around the left side of the Owls line and got a hand to the kick, which was scooped up by Morris at the 40 yard line and returned 60-yards for a touchdown the other way to get Stonehill back in the game (17-14) after the Steve Grzywacz (Manchester, New Hampshire/Manchester Central) extra point with 4:58 still to play.

Southern got two big first downs before Stonehill finally forced a punt with 31-seconds to go. Stonehill's final drive started at its own seven yard line and Sydeski connected with Ramey-Doe for two first down passes, the second of which had a 15-yard personal foul penalty attached to it that put the ball on the Stonehill 45. Sydeski killed the clock on first down, but passes down the field to junior Corey White (Bergenfield, New Jersey/Bergenfield), classmate Gordon McLeod (Weymouth, Massachusetts/BC High) and Robitaille in the closing seconds fell incomplete to seal the win for Southern.

Stonehill (3-5, 3-4 NE-10) is back in action next Saturday when it visits Saint Anselm College for the "Battle for the Ol' Bronze Hawk" in Manchester, N.H., at noon. The Skyhawks return home the following Saturday, November 8, to host Assumption College on Senior Day at W.B. Mason Stadium at noon. Southern Connecticut State (2-6, 2-5 NE-10) hosts LIU Post next Saturday at noon.

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