WALTHAM, Mass. – Following a league-wide bye week, the second half of the 2017 Bentley University football season will get underway Saturday when the Falcons host American International College. Kickoff is set for 1 pm with a free webcast available at www.bentleyfalcons.tv.
The first half of the season ended on a down note for the Falcons with a 20-17 loss at Pace University bringing a halt to a three-game win streak. Despite that blemish, Bentley reached the midpoint with records of 3-2 overall and 3-1 Northeast-10, good for a tie for second place in the conference.
Winning the turnover battle was a key to Bentley's success during the first half of the season. Coach Bill Kavanaugh's team came up with 13 takeaways and had a plus-eight turnover margin in the three wins. On the other hand, Bentley forced only two turnovers and had a minus-three margin in the losses.
Eleven of Bentley's 15 takeaways to date belong to the secondary with all four starters having at least one interception. Leading the way has been junior safety Nick Athy (Holliston/Holliston HS), with three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. His six takeaways are more than Stonehill and LIU Post have as a team, and the same number that Saint Anselm has.
A trio of sophomores round out the Falcon secondary. Safety Quintin McDermott (Franklin/Milton Academy) has picked off two passes and has forced three fumbles, All-Conference corner Peter Thorbahn (Norwell/Xaverian Brothers HS) has one INT and one force, and Derek Perkins (Milton/Milton HS) has picked one and recovered one.
The offense has received strong performances from senior quarterback Mack Lowrie (Foxborough/Roxbury Latin School), receivers Drew Mahoney (West Suffield, Conn./Suffield Academy) and Austin Ryan (Foxborough/ Foxborough HS), and running back Andrew Brazicki (Franklin Park, N.J./Bishop Ahr HS). The latter two have combined for three of the last four NE10 Rookie of the Week awards.
Lowrie, in his last two games, has thrown for five touchdowns in a win over LIU Post and a career-best 312 yards at Pace. He's completed at least 64 percent of his passes three times with his season totals including 1,169 yards, 11 TDs and only four interceptions.
Mahoney is second in the NE10 in receptions with 39, Ryan ranks fourth in Division II yards per reception (26.1) and both have caught five TD passes. Mahoney's 15 catches at Pace was just one shy of the school record and gave the junior a total of 38 in four conference games.
Brazicki, a six-foot 210-pound freshman, got the ball 19 times against Pace and recorded his first career 100-yard game, finishing with 109. He leads the Falcons with 293 yards and his 5.5 per carry norm ranks fifth in the conference.
They'll be facing an AIC defense that has gotten better week-by-week and ranks third in the NE10 in fewest points allowed (20.4). Since giving up 41 to Shippensburg in their opener, the Yellow Jackets have yielded 31, 24, 6 and 0 (in that order) the last four weeks. Their last three opponents (Pace, Southern Connecticut, Saint Anselm) have averaged less than 280 yards total offense.
AIC outside linebacker Isaiah Robinson leads the conference in tackles, averaging 10.2 a game, a total that represents about a sixth of the team's total. The Jackets have picked off six tackles and recovered four fumbles, including one by Robinson.
Offensively, AIC is ninth in the NE10 in scoring (16.8), along with eighth in passing (184.6) and tenth in rushing (92.8). The Yellow Jackets have reached the red zone only eight times thus far and they've given up 20 sacks.
Samad Davila will come into Saturday ranking fifth in the NE10 in rushing with 403 yards, a total built on getting the ball nearly 20 times a game. QB Kwame Jarvis has thrown for 923 yards and five TDs while completing 57 percent of his attempts. His favorite receiver is Ju'An Williams, who has caught 26 balls for 434 yards and two TDs.
Last year's game was dominated by the defense with Bentley returning from Springfield on the positive side of a 5-3 score, the Falcons' first win at AIC since 2004. That was only the second time in the last 13 meetings that the visiting team has prevailed in a series that is knotted at 11 games apiece.
After Saturday, Bentley will turn its attention to preparing for an Oct. 21 road contest with Stonehill.
BENTLEY BRIEFS: The time of Bentley's home game against Southern Connecticut on Oct. 28 has been changed from noon to 1 pm … in the latest NCAA Division II statistics, the Falcons are ninth in fewest penalties per game (4.2), tenth in fumbles recovered (8), 11th in fewest penalty yards per game (40.8) and 13th in fewest sacks allowed (0.80).