Turnovers Sting Stonehill at American International, 33-5

Junior Peter Catal had a career-high ten tackles, including 2.5 for a loss and a blocked field goal to lead a stout Stonehill defensive. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Skyhawks commit seven turnovers, resulting in 26 AIC points off four defensive returns

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (September 20, 2014) – American International College, among teams receiving votes in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll, scored 26 points off defensive returns on its way to a 33-5 triumph over Stonehill College in Northeast-10 Conference football action at Ronald J. Abdow Field this afternoon.

American International took full advantage of seven Stonehill turnovers, returning four of those for six points the other way by way of two interception returns for touchdowns and a pair of fumble returns for scores. The Yellow Jackets came away with four interceptions, including three from junior Daquan Holmes (Troy, New York/Troy) who returned two back for touchdowns, including a back-breaking 100-yard return midway through the second quarter. AIC also forced three fumbles, returning two of those for touchdowns, including a 97-yard fumble return from senior Andrew Justice (Brooklyn, New York/Abraham Lincoln) as Stonehill threatened to score on the opening possession of the second half.

Holmes finished with three tackles (two solo) for American International, while Justice had four stops (two solo) and senior Jaquawne Simpkins (Poughkeepsie, New York/Poughkeepsie) led the way with a game-high 13 tackles (nine solo) and a fumble recovery. Junior Omari Manhertz (Bronx, New York/Mount Saint Michael) added four tackles (three solo), including 2.5 for a loss of six yards, while senior Joel Bowen (Brooklyn, New York/Sheepshead Bay) chipped in with three stops (two solo), including 1.0 for a loss of three yards and a 25 yard fumble return for a score.

Junior Steve Grzywacz kicked his program-record 21st career field goal in the first quarter. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

American International's offense finished with 177 yards, with 110 passing and 67 on the ground, with Stonehill finishing with a 33:18 to 26:42 advantage for time of possession. The Skyhawks posted 308 total yards, with 203 rushing and 105 through the air, as they had no problem moving the ball against the Yellow Jackets defense, but turned the ball over five times in AIC territory, including three inside the five yard line.

Senior quarterback Kevin Arduino (Cornwall, New York/Cornwall) was called on to complete just 9-of-15 passes for 115 yards with an interception, adding five carries for another 21 yards and the Yellow Jackets lone offensive touchdown. Classmate Maurice Easterling (Yonkers, New York/Archbishop Stepinac) caught four passes for 37 yards, to go with ten rushes for another 29.

Junior running back Colin Markus (Monroe, Connecticut/Masuk) led Stonehill by rushing the ball 24 times for a season-high 177 yards, averaging 7.4 yards per carry, including a long of 56 yards to go with two receptions for another 31 yards to go over 200 all-purpose yards for the day. Classmate Deontae Ramey-Doe (Dorchester, Massachusetts/BC High) added 12 carries for 55 yards for the Skyhawks.

Junior placekicker Steve Grzywacz's (Manchester, New Hampshire/Manchester Central) 28 yard field goal in the first quarter not only gave Stonehill the initial lead, but was the 21st field goal of his career, breaking the program's career record of 20 set by Joe Crowley, '04.

Junior Peter Catal (Cornwall, New York/Cornwall) led the Stonehill defense which yielded just seven points and 177 total yards, holding its second straight opponent under 100 yards rushing, with a career-high ten tackles (six solo), including 2.5 for a loss of four yards and a blocked field goal to thwart another attempt for AIC to score points off a Skyhawks turnover. Senior Sterry Codrington (Freehold, New Jersey/Freehold Boro) added seven tackles (four solo), including 1.5 for a loss of three yards, and a blocked extra point. Junior Anthony Masucci (East Haven, Connecticut/Notre Dame-East Haven) contributed five stops (four solo), including 1.5 for a loss of 27, while senior All-American Brian Harrington (Rockland, Massachusetts/Rockland) chipped in three stops (one solo) and an interception, which led to the Stonehill field goal.

The turnovers looked to be going Stonehill's way in the early going as Harrington picked off Arduino on the opening possession of the game at the AIC 32. The Skyhawks possession stalled at the AIC 11 and Grzywacz capped the seven play drive with his record-breaking 28 yard field goal less than five minutes into the game.

Junior Colin Markus rushed the ball for a season-high 177 yards on 24 carries. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/Sports Pix

American International took the lead on its next possession with its lone offensive score of the day as Arduino capped a nine play, 67-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge. The Yellow Jackets doubled their score just three plays later when Holmes intercepted Stonehill junior quarterback Moe Regan (West Roxbury, Massachusetts/BC High) at the AIC 40 and raced down the right sideline for a 60-yard touchdown return.

Stonehill drove to the AIC three yard line on its next possession, thanks in part to Markus' 56-yard run, but Regan mishandled the snap on second and goal, and Simpkins recovered at the seven. The Yellow Jackets pushed the ball down to the Skyhawks 18 yard line with a 13-play, 74-yard drive, but was forced to settle for a 36-yard field goal, which was blocked by Catal and recovered by sophomore Jon Figura (Reading, Pennsylvania/Holy Name).

Stonehill again drove inside the American International red zone on just seven plays, getting to the eight yard line, with a key 32-yard reception by senior Nate Robitaille (Attleboro, Massachusetts/Attleboro) from Regan and a 19-yard Markus run. Regan was then picked off by Holmes at the goal line, who then raced untouched down the sideline for his second pick six of the afternoon.

Stonehill went into halftime with the 21-3 deficit and then took the opening possession of the second half to the AIC three yard line with an 11-play, 67-yard drive, but the Yellow Jackets forced a fumble on fourth and goal that was scooped up by Justice at the three and returned 97 yards for a touchdown. The Jared Hulsey (Springfield, Massachusetts/Putnam) extra point was blocked and Stonehill junior Jared Chandler (Hooksett, New Hampshire/Manchester Central) scooped the ball up and returned it the opposite way for a safety.

American International capped the scoring on the afternoon late in the third quarter when Bowen collected a fumble by senior quarterback Joe Della Vecchia (Stratford, Connecticut/Saint Joseph) and returned it 25 yards for a score with 3:53 remaining in the third. Stonehill drove to the Yellow Jackets six on the next possession, but turned the ball over on downs, ending the scoring chances by either team the rest of the way.      

Stonehill (1-2, 1-1 NE-10) looks to bounce back next Saturday when it returns home to host Merrimack College as part of Family Weekend at the College at 6 p.m. American International (2-1, 2-0 NE-10) visits Southern Connecticut State University next Saturday at noon.

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