Bulldogs drop NEC opener to SFU, 30-14

Photo by: DSPics.com
Photo by: DSPics.com

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Saint Francis University held the Bryant University football team to just 214 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers in handing the Bulldogs a 30-14 loss on Saturday afternoon at Beirne Stadium.

The Bulldogs (2-4, 0-1 NEC) entered the game averaging 484 yards of offense per game and over 350 passing yards per game but were held well under those season averages by the Red Flash (4-2, 2-0 NEC). Bryant posted 214 yard of offense and only 173 passing yards in the loss.

Despite the 30 points allowed, Bryant's defense played well, limiting the Red Flash to 116 yards on the ground. Sophomore Jesse Nemerowicz (Hudson, Mass.) recorded a career-high 16 tackles in his first game of the season, while classmate Eulogio Portugal (Rosedale, N.Y.) added a career-high 12 stops.

GAME INFORMATION

Saint Francis U 30, Bryant 14

Records: Bryant (2-4, 0-1 NEC), Saint Francis U (4-2, 2-0 NEC)

Location: Beirne Stadium | Smithfield, R.I.

Attendance: 3,069

COACH PERRY'S COMMENTS

"That's a very good defense we played today. We had trouble sustaining drives and the pace of play was against us. We will learn from this and be more efficient going forward."

KEY MOMENT

  • Trailing, 20-14, midway through the fourth quarter, sophomore Zahir Williams (Bronx, N.Y.) intercepted his second pass of the season and returned it 40 yards to the SFU 48. Bryant would picked up a first down two plays later but on 1st-and-10 from the SFU 36, redshirt junior Price Wilson (Marietta, Ga.) was intercepted by SFU's Jalen Wells. Wilson's pass skipped through the hands of senior Tom Kennedy (Farmingdale, N.Y.) and into the belly of Wells, who returned it 78 yards for what appeared to be a touchdown. He was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct prior to the score but the Red Flash were still able to kick a field goal to build a nine-point lead.

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • After a scoreless first quarter, the Red Flash scored 17 points in the second to take the lead at the half. Cyrus Holder hauled in a 32-yard reception for the first score, Jorge Solano capped an eight-play drive with a four-yard reception and Eric Bofenkamp kicked a 29-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the half.
  • Redshirt junior Dillon Guthro (Newburyport, Mass.) sacked SFU QB Bear Fenimore on fourth down from the Bryant 31 to stop a 10-play drive to open the third quarter. The Bulldogs would respond with a 12-play, 60-yard drive to get on the board.
  • The Bulldogs converted twice on third down on the drive and used a huge 36-yard shovel pass from Wilson to junior Brenden Femiano (Northport, N.Y.) to get inside the SFU 15. It seemd the Black and Gold would settle for a 27-yard field goal but sophomore Gavin Rowley (Hempstead, Md.) was hit on the kick, moving the ball to the SFU 4. Kennedy then scored on a wide receiver sweep to make it 17-7.
  • The Red Flash answered with a 10-play, 43-yard drive that Bofenkamp ended with a 32-yard field goal, making it 20-7 with 16 seconds left in the third quarter.
  • Bryant opened the fourth quarter with a quick six-play, 78-yard drive to pull within six, 20-14. Femiano converted on 4th-and-1 to keep the drive alive before sophomore Hayden Panagos (Hillsborough, N.J.) caught a pass over the middle and rumbled his way for a 46-yard touchdown.
  • Williams' interception then gave Bryant the ball back with 9:42 remaining but Wells' second interception of the game and the subsequent field goal put the game away.
  • SFU capped the scoring with an eight-yard TD reception by Kamron Lewis with 56 seconds left.

STATS

  • SFU posted 24 first downs and 408 yards of total offense. Bryant, meanwhile, had just 13 first downs and 214 yards of total offense.
  • Wilson completed 15-of-36 passes for 173 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.
  • Femiano led Bryant with 62 yards on 15 carries.
  • Redshirt sophomore Jean Constant (Delray Beach, Fla.) had six catches for 59 yards and also returned six kicks for 117 yards. He finished with 184 all-purpose yards.
  • Nemerowicz led the defense with a career-high 16 tackles. He made four solo stops and assisted on 12 others.
  • Portugal made a career-high 12 tackles.
  • Guthro finished with six tackles and a career-high three sacks.
  • Junior Thomas Costigan (Stamford, Conn.) had seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.
  • Rowley averaged 42.8 yards per punt with a long of 51 on the afternoon. It was his second-best average of the season.

GAME NOTES

  • Saturday was Bryant's first home loss of the season and its first since Sept. 17, 2016. It was the Bulldogs first loss at home to an NEC team since 2015.
  • Wilson had thrown for over 300 yards in each of the last three games and four of the first five games this season.
  • Nemerowicz had missed the first five games of the season with an injury. It was the fourth time in his career he's made 10+ tackles. The 16 tackles are the second-most in a single game in program history.
  • Williams now has interceptions in back-to-back games.
  • Two of Bryant's top three receivers, Kennedy and senior Matt Sewall (Portsmouth, R.I.), combined for just four catches in the game. 
  • Kennedy now has four touchdowns in his last three games and is tied for the team lead with three rushing scores.

UP NEXT

The Bulldogs continue NEC play next Saturday when they travel to New Britain, Connecticut, to take on Central Connecticut. Kickoff is at noon.