Big Plays Key as Southern Conn. State Holds Off Football, 31-27

Freshman Andrew Jamiel caught a program record 16 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown tonight. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Nittolo posts 328 total yards and four touchdowns to lead Owls

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (September 9, 2016) – Big plays were the answer for Southern Connecticut State University as it held off Stonehill College, 31-27, in a wild, back and forth fourth quarter in Northeast-10 Conference football action at Jess Dow Field tonight.

Sophomore quarterback Robert Nittolo (Hillsborough, New Jersey/Hillsborough) recorded 328 yards of total offense and four touchdowns to lead Southern Connecticut State to victory in the Northeast-10 opener for both. He completed 17-of-25 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns, while adding another 41 yards on 13 carries on the ground with a score.

Senior Devante Jenkins (Carson, California/North Torrance) caught seven passes for 120 yards and a touchdown, an 11-yard scoring catch with 43-seconds remaining that proved to be the deciding score. Junior Kendall Thomas (St. Albans, New York/Jefferson) averaged 49.2 yards on five kickoff returns, including a 98-yard return for a touchdown after Stonehill had taken its first lead of the night on the first play of the fourth quarter. Classmate Shaquan Hall (Newark, New Jersey/Newark) chipped in with 87 yards on two receptions, including a 75-yard touchdown catch following another go-ahead score by the Skyhawks.

Junior Vasilios Grigorakos (Port Washington, New York/Oceanside) led the Southern defense with six tackles (three solo), including 1.5 tackles for a loss of seven yards. Junior Rashad Edwards (Teaneck, New Jersey/Teaneck) chipped in six stops (five solo), while senior Brandon Martin (Hamden, Connecticut/Notre Dame-West Haven) registered five tackles (four solo) and an interception.

Junior Matt Foltz threw for 274 yards and added a pair of scores. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Despite the loss, freshman wide receiver Andrew Jamiel (West Yarmouth, Massachusetts/Dennis-Yarmouth) had a breakout performance for Stonehill with a program-record 16 receptions for a season-high 149 yards and a touchdown, while collecting a two-point conversion attempt, and finishing with a season-best 216 all-purpose yards as he added another 67 yards on four kickoff returns. He broke the previous single-game mark for receptions of 14 set by John Gomes '13 set against American International College in 2011. It also marks the Skyhawks first 200-yard all-purpose game since 2014.

Junior quarterback Matt Foltz (Mount Joy, Pennsylvania/The Hill School) completed 24-of-39 passes for a season-high 274 yards and a touchdown, with one interception, while adding another score on the ground – the tenth of his career. Sophomore Mike Cordova (Monroe, New Jersey/Red Bank Catholic) totaled 157 all-purpose yards for the Skyhawks with 16 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown on the ground to go with another 81 yards on two kickoff returns.

Senior Ryan Doherty (Methuen, Massachusetts/Methuen) paced the Stonehill defense with a season-high 11 tackles (eight solo), including 1.0 for a loss of a yard, with a QB hurry. Junior Nick Bona (Peabody, Massachusetts/Bishop Fenwick) added eight stops (seven solo) and a pass breakup, while classmate Donovan Phanor (Portsmouth, New Hampshire/Portsmouth) recorded four stops (one solo), an interception and pass breakup. Senior Andrew Kibarian (Lynnfield, Massachusetts/Lynnfield) chipped in with four tackles (two solo), 1.0 sacks for a loss of seven yards and a forced fumble.

Sophomore Mike Cordova rushed for 86 yards and a score. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Southern Connecticut emerged from a fourth quarter victorious in which the two teams combined for 39 points in the final 15-minutes after the Owls held a 12-7 lead after three quarters. The Owls answered go-ahead scores from Stonehill three times behind big plays to hold onto the win. Nittolo connected with Jenkins for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 43-seconds remaining with what proved to be the deciding score. The touchdown was set up by a 44-yard kickoff return by Thomas after Jamiel had given Stonehill a three-point lead (27-24) with a 12 yard touchdown catch from Foltz with 2:04 remaining after the Skyhawks connected on the two-point conversion as well.

Stonehill had one last chance to claim the win as Cordova returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to midfield. Foltz drove the Skyhawks to the Southern 11 after a pass interference penalty down the left side, but his final pass to Jamiel was batted away by senior Corey Chaffee (Danbury, Connecticut/Danbury) in the end zone as time expired.

Stonehill took its first lead of the night when Cordova capped an eight play, 91-yard drive, with a 29-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter. However, Thomas took the following kickoff 98 yards up the right side for a touchdown to put Southern back in front (18-13) after just 20-seconds of play in the quarter.

Foltz pushed Stonehill in front again with a one-yard keeper for his tenth career rushing touchdown with 7:06 remaining, but Nittolo connected with Hall for a 75-yard pass and catch on Southern's first play from scrimmage for another Owls lead (24-19) with 6:46 left. Jamiel's first career touchdown provided the Skyhawks with another lead (27-24) with 2:04 to play, but they wouldn't be able to make it stand.

Stonehill (0-2, 0-1 NE-10) is off until next Saturday, when it hosts LIU Post at W.B. Mason Stadium at 6 p.m. Southern Connecticut State (1-1, 1-0 NE-10) visits nationally-ranked Assumption College next Friday night at 7 p.m.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.

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