Football Edges Saint Anselm in 3OT, 57-54

Kearns Jr carried the ball a school-record 44 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Kearns, Jr. leads Skyhawks with 180 yards and 3 TDs on school-record 44 carries
Skyhawks keep Ol' Bronze Hawk in Easton for 14th-straight year

MANCHESTER, N.H. (September 9, 2018) – The two teams combined for 111 points, 986 yard of offense on 199 plays, with 51 first downs and 43 possessions as Stonehill College came from behind five times, including a ten-point deficit midway through the third quarter, for a wild 57-54 triple overtime triumph at Saint Anselm College in Northeast-10 Conference football action at Grappone Stadium tonight.

The win enables Stonehill to retain the Ol' Bronze Hawk trophy for the 14th-straight year, having never lost the trophy game against Saint Anselm that dates back to the 2006 season, with the Skyhawks defeating the Hawks in 15-consecutive meetings going back to 2005. Stonehill piled up 318 rushing yards as junior Brian Kearns, Jr. finished with 180 yards and a career-best three touchdowns on a school-record 44 rush attempts, with his three-yard touchdown in the third overtime lifting the Skyhawks to the victory. Stonehill nearly had a pair of 100-yard rushers for the second-straight week, with senior Mike Cordova adding 94 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns, while adding two receptions for 15 yards and 27 return yards.

Senior quarterback James Lam finished with 243 total yards, completing 17-of-31 passes for a career-high 199 yards and a touchdown. That scoring pass went to junior Andrew Jamiel, who added five receptions for 68 yards. Junior Matt Haite delivered three field goals, including a pair in overtime, with his 29-yarder in the first overtime session keeping the Skyhawks alive.

Kearns, Jr,'s 44 rush attempts bests the previous Stonehill single-game mark of 43 by Michael McSharry '98 against Sacred Heart University in 1995, while Kearns' three touchdowns were just one shy of the single-game mark accomplished four times in program history.

Sophomore Sam Athy led the Stonehill defense with a career-high 12 tackles (seven solo), including 0.5 for a loss of a yard and a fumble recovery. Classmate Casey Earle added a career-best nine stops (two solo) with an interception, pass breakup and quarterback hurry. Junior Malik Wiggins totaled eight tackles (four solo), with an interception and three breakups, while classmate Miles Strickland registered eight stops (four solo) with a sack for a loss of five yards.

Shuts returned a punt for a touchdown to open the scoring and later added an interception on defense. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Junior Ryan Shuts shined on defense and special teams for Stonehill. He opened the scoring when he collected a blocked punt after Saint Anselm's opening possession and returned it 32-yards for a touchdown just 28-seconds into the game. It marks the first punt return for a touchdown for Stonehill since Nate Robitaille '15 returned one 52-yards against Merrimack College in 2014. Shuts finished with 142 return yards in all, adding 109 yards on five kickoff returns to go with his 32 punt return yards, while contributing three solo tackles and an interception on defense.

Senior Eric Fairweather passed for five touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the way for Saint Anselm. He completed 29-of-54 passes for 307 yards and the five scores, while adding another 19 yards on 11 carries for a sixth touchdown on the ground. Fairweather found five different receivers for touchdowns on the night, with classmate Kyle Hill posting nine receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. Junior Nicholas Fiorillo also posted 71 receiving yards on five catches.

Sophomore Tariq-Ali Felton chipped in with 14 carries for 91 yards for Saint Anselm. Senior Daniel Parisi delivered four field goals for the Hawks, including a pair of 40-plus yard kicks in overtime. His career-long 45-yard field goal forced a third overtime, where he booted a 42-yard attempt before Kearns Jr. won the game on Stonehill's ensuing possession.

Senior Zack Mercer led the Saint Anselm defense with 15 tackles (nine solo) and a sack, while junior CJ Miller totaled 15 stops (three solo), including 0.5 for a loss of a yard, with a fumble recovery. Senior Emmanuel Akinlosotu contributed with ten tackles (six solo), including 2.5 tackles for a loss of 12 yards, 1.5 sacks for a loss of nine and a forced fumble.

Stonehill jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with Jamiel following up the Shuts punt return touchdown with a 38-yard touchdown reception from Lam with 6:32 to play in the opening quarter that capped a six play, 77-yard scoring drive.

Saint Anselm responded with 17-straight points as part of a 24-point second quarter to take a 24-21 lead into halftime after Hill caught a ten yard touchdown pass from Fairweather with 15-seconds remaining in the first half. Fairweather threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter alone, while Parisi added a 30-yard field goal.

Cordova added a pair of rushing touchdowns for the Skyhawks on Saturday night. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Saint Anselm extended its lead to ten points (31-21) after Fairweather found freshman Bobby Long for a 55-yard touchdown pass with 7:19 remaining in the third quarter. Stonehill answered with a Cordova touchdown run on its next possession and a 25-yard field goal by Haite to send the game into the fourth quarter knotted at 31-31.

Cordova pushed Stonehill back in front with a three-yard touchdown run with 8:24 to play in regulation. However, Saint Anselm took the lead back with Fairweather connecting with sophomore Franklin Holgate for a 22-yard touchdown pass and then adding a 19-yard touchdown run with 3:48 remaining.

Stonehill tied the game again as Kearns, Jr. rushed the ball in from two yards out at the end of a 13-play, 72-yard scoring drive with 22-seconds to play. The Skyhawks got a chance to win the game in regulation after senior captain Vandy Hall popped the ball loose on the ensuing kickoff and Athy recovered at the Saint Anselm 20. However, Haite's 40-yard field goal attempt sailed just wide, sending the game into overtime.

The two teams traded field goals over the first two overtime possessions, and Stonehill was able to hold Saint Anselm to three field goals overall before Kearns, Jr., delivered a game-winning touchdown run in the third overtime session for the Skyhawks. The win improves Stonehill to 3-0 in overtime games under head coach Eli Gardner, in his third season.

Stonehill (1-1, 1-0 NE10) returns to action next Saturday, September 15, to host LIU Post for an NE10 matchup as part of Family Weekend at the College at W.B. Mason Stadium at 6 p.m. Saint Anselm (0-1, 0-1 NE10) travels to Assumption College on 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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