Hounds Fall on Senior Day to Stonehill by 28-23 Final
Worcester, Mass. (November 12) -- In a back-and-forth game that featured seven lead changes, it was Stonehill that ended up on top as the Skyhawks came away with the 28-23 victory over Assumption in the season finale for both teams on Saturday afternoon at the Multi-Sport Stadium.
Prior to the start of today's game, the Assumption College football program recognized 14 individuals during Senior Day, including 10 senior student-athletes, for their contributions to the program during their Assumption careers.
The Hounds got on the board on the opening drive of the game as senior Brian Nowak (Wayland, Mass./Wayland) connected on a 37-yard field goal for the early 3-0 lead. Stonehill answered back immediately as Kyle Norwood (Rehoboth, Del./Cape Henlopen) pulled in a 20-yard fingertip touchdown pass from Logan Meyer (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure) to cap a seven-play, 56-yard drive for the 7-3 advantage.
Assumption took the ball on the next possession at the 10-yard line after freshman Shaun Burlinson (Worcester, Mass./St. John's) blocked the Skyhawk punt. A 30-yard Nowak field goal attempt late in the first quarter was wide left though as the wind blew it outside the upright at the last second.
Later in the second quarter, the Skyhawks used a fake punt to draw a roughing the passer penalty by the Greyhounds on fourth down, taking the ball just outside the red zone. That possession ended though on a fourth-down play from the 22-yard line as junior Nick Haag (Grafton, Mass./Bridgton Academy) sacked Meyer for a loss of six to take over the ball on downs with 5:45 left.
Assumption didn't capitalize on that defensive play, but did later in the second quarter though as senior Pat Jordan (Marlton, N.J./St. Joseph's Prep) picked off Meyer and returned the interception 43 yards to put the Hounds in front by a 10-7 margin. Senior linebacker Nick DiAntonio (Milford, Mass./Milford) posted seven first-half tackles to lead the defensive effort, giving the senior captain 100 total tackles for the season. It was also the second straight game for Jordan with an interception.
On the second-half kickoff, Stonehill senior Stephan Neville (Foxborough, Mass./Foxborough) returned his 10th career kickoff for touchdown, adding to his NCAA Division II record total. Junior Kevin Anderson (Topsfield, Mass./Masconomet) fielded the kickoff, then quickly handed off to Neville as he tied the NCAA All-Division record with his 74-yard return.
Assumption and sophomore running back Matt Pedone (Holden, Mass./Wachusett) answered with a nine-play, 55-yard drive that was capped by a five-yard touchdown run by Pedone for the 16-14 lead. The Nowak extra-point attempt was wide left, leaving it a two-point Assumption advantage with 11:05 left in the third period.
The Hounds continued the rushing attack on their next possession and with a 20-yard gain up the middle, Pedone surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau for the season. The 1,000-yard season is just the seventh such season in Assumption football history. Just two plays later, however, Stonehill's Jareed Gaines (Lumberton, N.J./Rancocas Valley) picked off freshman quarterback Kevin Bumpus (Bridgewater, Mass./Bridgewater-Raynham) and raced 82 yards for the score to give the Skyhawks the lead back at 21-16.
Late in the third quarter, the Hounds again used the running of Pedone to get down to a first-and-goal situation from the eight yard line. After switching ends to start the fourth, the Stonehill defense stuffed Pedone on both third and fourth down from the one yard line, taking over possession just outside the end zone. The Hounds defense kept the visitors pinned though and forced the punt, which was fielded at the Skyhawk 46-yard line with 11:46 left. Assumption took advantage of the good field position immediately as Bumpus found a wide open Adam Gruschow (Hilton, N.Y./Hilton) up the middle to regain the lead at 23-21.
After a 45-yard punt by Nowak with 6:21 left in the fourth, Neville took the punt return up the middle and broke three tackles on his way to the end zone from 64 yards out to give Stonehill the lead yet again at 28-23. The punt return for the touchdown was the first of his career for Neville.
With 2:12 left in the fourth, Mike Bates (Holden, Mass./Wachusett) blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt by Stonehill and the Hounds took over at the 19-yard line. After a 21-yard completion to Gruschow gave the Hounds the ball at the 40, senior Paul Perez (Brooklyn, N.Y./Xaverian) pulled down an 11-yard pass to get the ball into Stonehill territory. Stonehill wrapped up the game though on the next play as Michael Melia (Foothill Ranch, Calif./Trabuco Hills) picked off Bumpus to seal the Stonehill victory.
Assumption piled up 428 yards of total offense in the game, led by 170 yards on the ground by Pedone on 42 rushes. His 42 rushes is the third-highest single-game total in Assumption history. For the season, Pedone rushed for 1,043 yards, the fifth-highest single-season mark in school history. Bumpus completed 17-of-31 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown, to go along with two interceptions. Gruschow posted another 100-yard game as he had five receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively for Assumption, the team was led by DiAntonio with a 13-tackle effort, including two tackles for a loss as he ended up with 106 for the season. Bates was also solid for the Hounds with eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one pass breakup, one pass knocked down and one quarterback hurry. Senior Sonny Dillinger (Naples, Fla./St. John Neumann) had a pair of interceptions in the game to go along with three tackles and ended the season with five interceptions to rank second on the team.
Offensively for the Skyhawks, the visitors gained only 41 yards on the ground, but had 143 passing yards as Meyer completed 15-of-28 passes with one touchdown and three interceptions. The story was Neville for Stonehill, as he had 223 all-purpose yards in the game with 120 kickoff return yards and 103 punt return yards, along with his two touchdowns.
Defensively for Stonehill, the Skyhawks were led by 13 tackles from Matt Iannucci (Oakland, N.J./Indian Hills), along with 10 tackles from Gaines. Gaines also had one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery, one interception for a touchdown and one pass breakup.
With the loss, the Hounds end the season at 4-6 overall and 3-5 in Northeast-10 play, while the Skyhawks conclude the year at 4-7 overall and 3-5 in the league.