November 13, 2007
BRYANT FOOTBALL BACK IN NCAA TOURNAMENT
Bulldogs Travel to Southern Connecticut Saturday
GAME NOTES (PDF)
Game 11 - #5 Bryant (8-2) at #4 Southern Connecticut (8-3)
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2007 / 12 pm kickoff
Location: Jess Dow Field (6,000), New Haven, CT
Radio/TV: www.bryantbulldogs.com (John McCarthy play by play)
The Bryant University football team will make its second appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs and second in as many years when the Bulldogs travel to New Haven, CT this Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 12 noon at Jess Dow Field. The game can be heard live online at www.bryantbulldogs.com. This will be the second meeting of the year between the two teams, the second in 12 days as the Owls rolled to a 56-28 win back on Nov. 2, a game also played at Jess Dow Field. Bryant rallied to tie the game 28-28 in the third quarter but Southern Connecticut reeled off 28 unanswered points, handing Bryant is first Division II loss of the season and first loss in conference play. The winner of Saturday's game will face the region's top seed, California (Pa.) in next Saturday.
* Bryant is making its second consecutive NCAA appearance, falling to West Chester, 31-29 in Bulldog Stadium.
* Bryant was the No. 4 seed last year and fell to the fifth seeded Golden Rams at home. This year, Bryant is the No. 5 seed and will be looking for similar results visiting the No. 4 seed Owls on their home field.
* Bryant is 23-8 in its last 31 games - including last year's NCAA playoff loss.
* The Bulldogs are 4-2 on the road this year
* Bryant is 2-5 in seven meetings with Southern Connecticut
* The Bulldogs 0-4 all-time against the Owls at Jess Dow Field
This will be the eighth meeting all-time between Bryant and Southern Connecticut with the Owls holding a 5-2 series lead. The last three meetings between these two schools produced a combined total of 265 points. Bryant defeated Southern Connecticut 49-20 in the season opener last season, rebounding from a 77-35 shellacking in the season finale to the 2005 season. But the Owls got the better of the Bulldogs with a 56-28 win this year on Nov. 2. Bryant is 0-4 all-time at Southern Connecticut.
LAST MEETING - SCSU 56, BRYANT 28 (Nov. 2, 2007)
Southern Connecticut redshirt sophomore Jerom Freeman rushed for an NCAA Division II record 418 yards on 34 carries to lead the host Owls to a 56-28 win over the Bulldogs at Jess Dow Field. Southern Connecticut the preseason favorite to win the Northeast-10, rode the back of the conference's top tailback, scoring on its first two possessions on touchdown runs of 12 and 48 by Freeman to jump out to a 14-0 lead. Lindsey Gamble (Roxbury, Mass.) would add two touchdown runs of his own to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance. Down 28-14 at the half, the Bulldogs would come out the locker room with all of the momentum on their side to start the third. A Gamble 25 yard touchdown run followed by a Charlie Granatell (Franklin Lakes, NJ) 13 yard touchdown pass to Chris Arnold in the back of the end zone tied the game 28-28 with 9:17 left to go in the third. But that would be all of the scoring for the Bulldogs as Southern Connecticut's Chris Bergeski hauled in a 39 yard touchdown pass and Robert Felder followed with a 68-yard touchdown reception and the Owls would cruise from there. Freeman broke the previous NCAA record of 410 yards held by Andrew Terry of Ferris State in 2004. The Southern Connecticut running back had 131 yards after one quarter and 246 yards on 15 carries at the half. He would finish averaging 12.3 yards per carry and five touchdowns including a 70-yarder in the second quarter. Gamble finished with 90 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns in the game while Granatell completed 24 of 41 passes for 275 yards with six passes going to senior Sean Bergin (New Windsor, NY) who had 68 yards in the game. The two teams combined for 1,041 yards of total offense with Southern totaling 635 yards on 61 plays.
LOOKING AT THE BULLDOGS
The Bryant University Bulldogs have enjoyed a tremendous season. Despite graduating all but two offensive starters, including NE-10 Player of the Year Lorenzo Perry, the Bulldogs raced out to its best start in school history by winning their first seven games. The team was handed its first loss of the year, 30-0 in a non-conference game at Stony Brook on Oct. 27. The team would fall to Southern Connecticut, 56-28 a week later, but managed to regain its momentum by taking care of Bentley with a solid 29-3 win before 4,748 at Bulldog Stadium last week. The win gave Bryant its first out-right conference championship. The Bulldogs were co-champions in 2006.
The Bulldogs are led by the three-headed monster backfield of sophomores Lindsey Gamble (Roxbury, Mass.), Jerell Smith (Brooklyn, NY) and Chris Peaks (Silver Spring, Md.). The three have all had their share of the spotlight this year and bring a different dimension to the rushing game. Gamble, who leads the team with 85.8 yards per game and 13 rushing touchdowns, is a finesse runner with excellent speed through the line. Smith is another speedster who is hard to bring down. The Howard University transfer has been excellent on kick returns throughout the year (23.2 yards per return average). Peaks is a four-year veteran who is brings a hard-nosed running game and can provide a much needed boost either picking up a first down in short yardage situation or giving the team a little inspiration. Quarterback Charlie Granatell runs the show. The senior has been the starting quarterback since stepping onto campus 40 games ago and is averaging 178.9 yards per game this year. His main target has been senior Sean Bergin who has 39 receptions for a school record 644 yards and four touchdowns this year. The offensive line is rather young but anchored by seniors Ralph Squitieri (Orangeburg, NY) and Barrington Little (Washington, DC), both captains.
The heart and soul of the Bulldogs coming in, the Bulldog defense held a solid Bentley team to just one field goal in Saturday's 29-3 Bryant win. The team is allowing 167 yards passing and 161 yards rushing per game this season. The secondary is the most experienced, with all of its starters back from a year ago and healthy all season long. Marcus Lindsey (Bridgeport, Mass.) (team high 70 tackles) and safety Chris Wohlheter (second with 67 tackles) are hard-hitters who are in on just about every play. The linebackers led by Dan Curci (Hasbrouck Heights, NJ) and Paul Polomski (Franklin, Mass.) are solid while the defensive line consisting of Jay Stahl (Methuen, Mass.), Mark Gunther (Clarksburg, NJ), and James Lewis (New Haven, CT) made a big statement in the win over Bentley Saturday. Stahl had two sacks and three tackles for a loss against the Falcons.
Freshman Chris Bird has been consistent on field goals this year, making 7 of 9 attempts with a long of 36 against Bentley. He is 3-for-4 between the 30-39 yard line with just two attempts beyond 40 yards. Junior punter Brian Donnelly (East Dennis, Mass.) is averaging 38.1 yards per punt with a long of 57 yards. Jerell Smith (Brooklyn, NY) has been dangerous on kick returns, getting solid returns to set up the Bulldog offense for most of the season (23.2 yards per return) while Chris Wohlheter (Newark, OH) is one of the league's best punt return specialist with 14.7 yards per return. The Bryant coverage teams have not allowed a kick or punt return go for a touchdown this season. Kicker Chris Bird (Monument Beach, Mass.) is 7-for-11 on FG's with a long of 36 yards vs. Bentley. He is 0-for-2 from beyond 40 yards.
Bryant coach Marty Fine is currently in his fourth season coaching the Bulldogs. Since his first year in Smithfield in 2004, Fine owns a coaching record of 27-13. He is 1-3 all-time against Southern Connecticut. Southern Connecticut coach Rich Cavanaugh is in his 22nd year at Southern and owns a 129-96-1 career coaching record at the school.
* The Bulldogs are eight completions shy of the school record of 159 set in 2005
* Bryant needs two field goals to tie the school mark of nine in a season set in the first year of football at Bryant in 1999.
* Bryant has set a new season mark with 282 punt return yards and record 14.8 yards per return average.
INDIVIDUAL SEASON MARKS
* Lindsey Gamble's 13 rushing touchdowns is third most (20 by Lorenzo Perry in 2006)
* Charlie Granatell's 148 completions is a new school record, passing his old mark of 145 (2005)
* With 1736 yards passing, Granatell needs 186 yards to pass his old record of 1975 in 2006.
* WR Sean Bergin(New Windsor, NY) set the school single season receiving yards mark with 644 this year.
* Bergin needs three catches (39) to pass Justin Kix' record of 41 in a season (2005)
* Freshman Chris Bird of Monument Beach, Mass. needs two field goals to tie the school single season record of nine in a season held by Peter DiMartino in 1999.
GRANATELL SOLID IN THE POCKET
Senior quarterback Charlie Granatell (Franklin Lakes, NJ / Ramapo) has started every game (40) since coming to campus as a freshman in 2004. Granatell's junior year was his best yet, passing for a career-best 1,975 yards and 21 touchdowns. Granatell finished the season ranked second nationally with a 167.5 efficiency rating. Career-wise, Granatell holds all of Bryant's passing records including: attempts (932), completions (529), yards (6,816) and passing TDs (56).
GRANATELL ON THE SEASON
Granatell has enjoyed a tremendous senior season running the Bulldog offense. This year he has completed 60.9 percent of his passes (148 of 243) for 1,789 yards and 13 touchdowns. Granatell has thrown just six interceptions all year and has completed a pass to 15 different players this year. He comes into today's game averaging 178.9 yards passing per game.
NE-10 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore LB Paul Polomski (Franklin, Mass.) was named the Northeast-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Week after recording six tackles, a fumble recovery, and intercepting two passes, one of which was returned 44 yards for a touchdown in the fourth in Saturday's win over AIC. Polomski earned his first start at linebacker last year as a freshman in Week 2, playing against of all teams AIC. Incidentally, Polomski had a goal-line interception in the first half of that game as well.