|The Stonehill defense held Assumption to 32 yards in the decisive third quarter. (Photo by Rob Klein)|
Back On Track: Skyhawks Net 31-7 Win
Easton, Mass. - Behind a balanced offensive attack and a stout defense, Stonehill scored 31 unanswered points to snap a five game losing streak and post a convincing 31-7 win over visiting Assumption in front of 1,871 fans at W.B. Mason Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Skyhawks improve to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in Northeast-10 play, while the Greyhounds, in their first season under head coach Adam Fuller, fall to 1-6 overall and 1-4 in Conference play.
Things started off slow for Stonehill, and after a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, Assumption marched down the field and scored on an 18-yard run by sophomore Herbert Woordard, giving the visitors the early 7-0 advantage.
The Skyhawks responded the next time they touched the ball, however, getting a key third down conversion when Cruz Parsons (Signal Hill, Calif.) connected up the right sideline with Chris Palmer (Santa Barbara, Calif.) for 42 yards, bringing Stonehill deep inside Greyhound territory. Three straight runs from Jeff Payne (West Haven, Conn.), including the final one from three yards out, capped the six-play, 56-yard drive that evened the score.
Both teams mounted clock-draining drives in the second quarter but wound up with different results. Assumption put together a 10-play, 28-yard sojourn that ended when Greyhound receiver Marcus Nichols was unable to collect a pass over the middle on fourth down.
After Stonehill took over on downs, they moved 77 yards in 12 plays, highlighted by pass plays of 31 yards to Payne and 20 yards to David Pringle (West Haven, Conn.). Eddie Vachon (Newton, Mass.) ended that drive with a three-yard score, giving Stonehill a 14-7 edge.
Another three-and-out and short punt by Assumption gave Stonehill the ball at their own 44 with less than two minutes to go in the half. On the first play of the drive, Parsons and Palmer connected again, this time for 35 yards to the Greyhound 21. A 19 yard scramble by Parsons, gave the Skyhawks first and goal from the two. Parsons punched it in on his own from a yard out two plays later, upping the Skyhawks' advantage to 21-7 at the half.
Stonehill then took advantage of a pair of Assumption miscues to seal the game in the third quarter. First, Greg Sanzari (Centerport, N.Y.) picked off a Josh Ratacik pass and returned it 11 yards to the Assumption 30, which Stonehill converted into a 27-yard field goal from junior Brendan Gorey (West Islip, N.Y.).
Then on the next Greyhound possession, a mishandled pitch by Lance Mitchell was recovered by Andrew Lesko (Florence, Mass.), setting up the Stonehill offense at the Assumption 26. After a short gain on first down by Vachon and a quarterback sack on second, Parsons found a streaking Cory Wright (Manchester, N.H.) up the middle for a 27-yard scoring strike that ended the day's scoring.
In the win, the Skyhawks made huge improvements in areas in which they had struggled in during their losing streak. In the previous five games, Stonehill converted just 29 percent of third downs and were 10-for-18 in red zone scoring opportunities. Today, they were 9-for-15 on third down and a perfect 4-for-4 in the red zone. Meanwhile, the Skyhawks' defense held Assumption to 3-for-12 on third downs and a 1-for-3 performance inside the Stonehill 20.
Parsons had an accurate day through the air, going 13-of-20 for 199 yards and a touchdown and added 32 yards and a score on the ground.
Palmer hauled in three catches for 81 yards, while Payne provided 40 yards on the ground and 47 more on three catches.
Freshman Stephan Neville (Foxboro, Mass.) had a team-high eight tackles (seven solo) and a pass breakup for Stonehill, which also got seven tackles apiece from Jeff Cuqua (Walpole, Mass.), Kevin Bonnett (Manchester, N.H.) and Michael Greene (Plainview, N.Y.). George Whetstone (Westwood, Mass.) chipped in with six tackles, two more sacks and a forced fumble.
Woodard was the game's top rusher, turning in 71 yards, 30 of which came on the Greyhounds opening drive. Ratacik was 19-for-26 for 106 and an interception for Assumption, which got a game-high ten tackles from Chris Martino.
Stonehill returns to action next Saturday when it hosts Merrimack at 1 p.m.