Returns Spur Stonehill Past Assumption in Finale, 28-23

Senior All-American Stephan Neville matched the NCAA All-Division record with his tenth career kickoff return for a touchdown, later adding his first career punt return for a score to match the NCAA Division II record for career kick returns for a score with 11. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Neville posts two TD returns, including NCAA All-Division record tenth career kickoff return for score, first career punt return for TD provides winning score

WORCESTER, Mass. (November 12, 2011) – Stonehill College scored three touchdowns off long returns to close out the 2011 season with a 28-23 victory over Assumption College in Northeast-10 Conference football action at Multi-Sport Stadium this afternoon.

Senior All-America kick returner Stephan Neville (Foxborough, Mass./Foxborough) posted a pair of kick returns for touchdowns to lead Stonehill to the win. He matched an NCAA All-Division record with his tenth career kickoff return for a touchdown when he took the opening kickoff of the second half 77 yards for a score. Neville's first career punt return for a touchdown put the Skyhawks in front for good with 6:21 remaining in regulation and give him 11 combined kick returns for a touchdowns, matching the NCAA Division II record for total kick return scores set by Deante Steele of Shephard University from 2007-10. He matched Larry Beavers' of NCAA Division III Wesley College's all-divisions record for kickoff return scores set from 2004-08.

Neville racked up 234 total yards on returns this afternoon, with 131 yards on three kickoff returns and another 103 yards on three punt returns. The 234 yards give him 3,175 career all-purpose yards, good for second all-time in Stonehill history behind former teammate Eddie Vachon (4,689). Neville caps his career with a school-record 2,785 career kick return yards and his 11 career kick returns for a score are two shy of the NCAA All-Division mark of 13 set by Beavers, and including a 35 yard fumble return for a score as a junior, he has 12 total runbacks for a touchdown – one shy of Steele's Division II mark.

Junior defensive back Jareed Gaines (Lumberton, N.J./Rancocas Valley) also added a return for a score with an 82 yard interception return in the third quarter. He also finished with ten tackles (five solo), including 1.0 for a loss of four yards, a fumble recovery and pass breakup. His ten stops give him a team-high 96 for the year, the ninth-highest single season total in program history.

Senior safety Matt Iannucci (Oakland, N.J./Indian Hills) posted a game high matching 13 tackles (eight solo) with a pass breakup, while junior Raymond Bass (Canton, Mass./Canton) contributed seven stops (five solo), including 2.5 for a loss of four yards.

Sophomore quarterback Logan Meyer (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure) completed 15-of-28 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown on the offensive side for Stonehill. Junior Kyle Norwood (Rehoboth, Del./Cape Henlopen) caught four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore Paul Piccirillo (Shelton, Conn./Shelton) added five receptions for 44 yards.

Junior Jareed Gaines returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown and finished with ten tackles, a pass breakup and fumble recovery. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Sophomore Matt Pedone (Holden, Mass./Wachusett Regional) racked up 197 all-purpose yards for Assumption, carrying the ball 42 times for 170 yards and a touchdown while adding three receptions for 27 yards.

Freshman quarterback Kevin Bumpus (Bridgewater, Mass./Bridgewater-Raynham) completed 17-of-31 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Adam Gruschow (Hilton, N.Y./Hilton) caught five of those passes for 109 yards and a score.

Senior Nick DiAntonio (Milford, Mass./Milford) led the Assumption defense with a game-high matching 13 tackles (three solo), including 2.0 for a loss of six yards. Sophomore Mike Bates (Holden, Mass./Wachusett Regional) added eight stops (five solo), including 1.5 for a loss of two yards, a pass breakup, blocked field goal and quarterback hurry. Senior Sonny Dillinger (Naples, Fla./St. John Neumann) posted two interceptions and three solo tackles.

Assumption posted 428 yards of total offense in the contest that featured seven lead changes, passing for 227 and rushing for another 201, posting 25 first downs and 36:48 of possession time. Stonehill was held to 184 total yards (143 passing, 41 rushing) and 11 first downs with a 23:12 time of possession.

Senior captain Matt Iannucci capped his collegiate career with 13 tackles and a pass breakup. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Both teams scored on their opening possessions with Assumption striking first on a 37 yard field goal by junior Brian Nowak (Wayland, Mass./Wayland) after a ten play, 60 yard drive stalled at the Stonehill 20 yard line. Logan steered the Skyhawks to a touchdown on the ensuing drive, capped by a 20 yard fingertip grab by Norwood to cap a seven play, 56 yard drive. Meyer completed four of five passes for 53 yards on the drive.

Senior defensive back Pat Jordan (Marlton, N.J./St. Joseph Prep) put Assumption in front (10-7) at halftime when he picked off a Meyer pass at the Stonehill 43 and ran it back all the way for a touchdown with 2:11 remaining in the second quarter.

Neville put Stonehill back in front when he ran the opening kickoff of the second half 77 yards, off a handoff by junior Kevin Anderson (Topsfield, Mass./Masconomet), for his second kickoff return for a score this season and tenth of his career – extending his own NCAA Division II record and matching the all-divisions mark.

Assumption answered right back, however, with Pedone capping a nine play, 55 yard drive with a five yard touchdown scamper for a 16-14 advantage after the point after kick was off the mark. The Greyhounds converted twice on third down on the drive. After Dillinger picked off Meyer on the next possession, Gaines intercepted Bumpus six plays later at the Skyhawks 18 and raced it back 82 yards for his first career interception return for a score and a 21-16 Stonehill lead with 6:48 remaining in the third quarter.

Assumption forged ahead again 3:21 into the fourth quarter after getting good field position after a punt at the Stonehill 46. Bumpus hit Gruschow for a 46 yard catch and run on the first play from scrimmage to give the Greyhounds a 23-21 edge after the Nowak point after.

Neville provided the difference however when he fielded a Nowak punt at the Stonehill 36 and raced 64 yards for his first collegiate punt return for a touchdown with 6:21 remaining in regulation. It marks the Skyhawks first punt return for a score since Dan Cahill scored on a 38 yard return against Bentley on November 11, 1995.

Junior safety Mickey Miela (Foothill Ranch, Calif./Trabuco Hills) sealed the win with his team-leading fourth interception of the season at the Stonehill 25 with 1:28 to play.

Stonehill (4-7, 3-5 NE-10) closes out its 2011 season with back-to-back wins for the first time this fall and have now gone 7-2 in the month of November in five seasons with Robert Talley as head coach. Assumption closes out its season with a 4-6 overall record, 3-5 in NE-10 play.