WORCESTER, Mass. - Tonight the Assumption football team looks to win its second straight game and first home contest of the season when the Hounds host Saint Anselm at 7 pm in Multi-Sport Stadium. Assumption is coming off a 49-19 win over Merrimack last week while the Hawks fell 57-54 in triple overtime in their most recent contest.
Last Time Out: Assumption
Assumption got back on track Saturday evening with a dominant 49-19 victory over Merrimack on the road. The Hounds gave up the first touchdown, but responded with the next 42 points to put the game out of reach. Deonte Harris tied it up in the first quarter on a 63-yard punt return and the offense added three more touchdowns for a 28-7 lead at the half. Khaleed Exum-Strong rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter before Merrimack broke its scoring drought with two touchdowns. Assumption added one more as it rushed for 301 total yards to secure its first win of the season, 49-19.
Scouting the Offense: Assumption
The Hound offense found its grove on Saturday, tallying 49 points and going without a punt until late in the fourth quarter. For the year they are averaging 38.5 points per game and lead the NE10 with 25 first downs per contest. They are averaging 226.5 yards per game on the ground from a trio of talented backs, while quarterbacks Marc Monks and Cody Williams have combined to average 222.5 passing yards per game while completing 57 percent of their passes. Tyis Boykin has been the team's top receiver with 13 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Scouting the Defense: Assumption
Assumption has been solid on defense this year, letting up 25.5 points per game. After giving up 26 first half points to Kutztown in the opener, the Hounds have allowed just four touchdowns in the last six quarters. For the season they are allowing 391.0 yards per game, with 135 on the ground and 256 through the air. Quarterbacks have only completed 51.4 percent of their passes against Assumption and are averaging 4.3 yards per rush. After leading the conference in sacks a year ago, the line has registered just three through its opening two games. Six different players have at least ten tackles, let by Joe Bruno and Mason Spence with 13 apiece. Bruno also leads the team with 2.0 sacks and 4.0 tackles for a loss.
Assumption had yet to attempt a field goal. Sophomore transfer Jacob Tondel has connected on all 11 of his extra points thus far. Last year he was 6-for-7 as a member of the AIC football team. Seamus Wallace is averaging 34.8 yards per punt this year with a long of 48 yards. Of his nine punts, only two have been returned.
Assumption has won 13 straight contests against Saint Anselm and is 18-5 against the Hawks overall. They haven't scored more than 14 points in four straight games against the Hounds while allowing at least 31 points in each of those contests. Last year Assumption took town the Saint Anselm 55-10 in Manchester. Assumption scored 14 points in the first and added 28 points in the second quarter for a 42-10 lead at the half. The Hounds added one touchdown and two Cole Tracy field goals in the second half for the 45-point win. Assumption finished with 530 yards of offense, including 352 through the air while limiting the Hawks to 229 yards of offense Bryce Jacob had seven tackles while Ashton Grant caught six passes for 161 yards.
Last Time Out: Saint Anselm
The Hawks are coming off a gut-wrenching 57-54 triple overtime loss to Stonehill last Saturday night, in which the teams combined to run 199 plays and put up over 900 yards of offense. Saint Anselm led 24-21 at the half, but fell behind 38-31 midway through the fourth quarter. They battled back to grab a 45-38 advantage before Stonehill scored with 22 seconds left to tie it. In the extra session, each of the two teams made field goals on their opening two drives of overtime. The Hawks made a 42-yard field goal to begin the third overtime, but Stonehill answered with a touchdown to secure the win. Eric Fairweather was 30-for-55 for 313 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions to lead the offense. Defensively, six different players had at least ten tackles, led by CJ Miller with 15.
Scouting the Offense: Saint Anselm
The Hawks are averaging 54 points per game, with Fairweather providing much of the offense. He threw for 313, five touchdowns and rushed for another score in the season opener. They did struggle rushing the ball, totaling just 106 yards on 36 attempts. Tariq-Ali Felton led the team with 14 carries for 41 yards. Kyle Hill was the team's top receiver with nine catches for 71 yards while Nicholas Fiorillo had five receptions for 71 yards.
Scouting the Defense: Saint Anselm
Saint Anselm's defense struggled to contain Stonehill, allowing 57 points and 517 yards on 108 plays. The Hawks did allowed just 199 passing yards and one touchdown, though the Skyhawks did rush for 318 yards on 77 carries. As a team, they have five sacks on the year with eight tackles for a loss. Emmanuel Akinlosotu had ten tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss with one forced fumble to anchor the defense.
Assumption surpassed 300 rushing yards last game, the first time it had done that since churning out 326 yards in a 60-50 victory over Southern Conn. back on Oct. 17, 2015. Senior Quentin Hall is the only player who started in both games, manning his left tackle position. On Saturday, three different backs totaled at least 80 yards, led by Doug Santos and Khaleed Exum-Strong with 90 apiece. Freshman Joseph Kellum added 84 yards and his first touchdown, while Santos caught a receiving touchdown and Exum-Strong rushed for three scores.
Grinding Out Yards
Khaleed Exum-Strong surpassed 70 yards for just the third time in his career and owns one career 100-yard rushing game. Despite the limited role over his career thus far he has a career average of 7.1 yards per rush on 97 attempts. Santos, meanwhile, surpassed 70 for just the fourth time in his career last weekend and has yet to go over 100 yards. He does own a career rushing average of 5.2 yards per carry with six touchdowns.
Seniors Marc Monks and Cody Williams split time at quarterback last Saturday, as each threw for over 100 yards and attempted three passes. On the ground they've been dynamic over their careers, as Monks has rushed for 414 career yards with seven touchdowns with a career-long rush of 42 yards, executed against Shepherd in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Williams, meanwhile, has 174 rushing yards with six touchdowns and career long of 52 yards, set against Kutztown.
Tying It All Together
Senior Tyis Boykins led Assumption in receptions for the second straight game, with six for 47 yards. Of his 13 receptions this season, seven have been for a first down this year while an eighth was his lone touchdown.
Scoring In Other Phases
Deonte Harris' punt return touchdown was the first special teams or defensive touchdown for Assumption this year. Last year they led the nation with 14 touchdowns from defense or special teams (6 PR, 4 INT, 3 KR, 1 FUM), recording one in 10 of 13 games. Over that span, touchdowns were scored by six different players.
Hounds in the NFL
Assumption boasts one current NFL player in New York Giants tight end Scott Simonson. Simonson is in his fifth year as a pro and first with the Giants after being named to the 53-man roster on Sept. 1. Simonson spent his first year with the Oakland Raiders, appearing in five games. He moved on to the Carolina Panthers from 2015-17, where he played in the Super Bowl against Denver.
Kicking it in Baton Rouge
Former Assumption great Cole Tracy made his debut for LSU two weeks ago as a graduate student transfer. The kicker connected on four field goals for the Tigers, including tying the school record with a 54-yard make as they upset No. 8 Miami 33-17. Last weekend he connected on his only field goal attempt, from 50 yards. His five goals are tied for fourth in the FBS. During his career at Assumption from 2015-17, Tracy set every school kicking record and currently ranked second all-time in NCAA DII history with 68 field goals. He also won the 2017 Fred Mitchell Award as the top non-FBS kicker after making 27 of 29 attempts in 2017, along with all 67 extra points.
Senior Deonte Harris, posted his eighth career punt return touchdown last Saturday, scoring from 63 yards out. His eight career punt return TD rank second in NCAA Division II history. For his career he now has 13 return touchdowns, with eight on punt and five more on kick return, which is an NCAA Division II record for career return touchdowns. In 2017 he finished with eight return touchdowns, including five on punts.