NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Through the first seven quarters this season, the Bentley University Falcons had been kept out of the end zone and had managed only three field goals.
That changed rapidly in the opening minute of the fourth, with two TDs in a span of 18 seconds, and Bentley (1-1, 1-0 NE10) went on to stun Southern Connecticut State, 24-22, in Northeast-10 Conference football action Friday afternoon on Jess Dow Field. The contest was originally scheduled for Thursday night, but thunder and lightning necessitated a postponement.
The second-half comeback was fueled by sophomore QB Seamus Leary (Holden, Mass./St. Peter Marian HS), who was inserted at intermission and responded by passing for a touchdown, rushing for another and amassing 168 yards total offense in his collegiate debut. He finished 10 of 13 for 117 yards through the air and also gained 51 on the ground.
Bentley's first TD of 2018 came 30 seconds into the fourth, a nine-yard pass from Leary to senior wide receiver Jordan Zlogar (Clifton Park, N.Y./Shenendehowa HS). That finished a four-yard, 75-yard drive that included a 24-yard pass from Leary to senior wide receiver Michael Correia (Fall River, Mass./ Durfee HS) and a 24-yard run by Leary. He fumbled at the end of the run but it was recovered by freshman wide receiver Noah Neville (Boston/Newton North HS).at the Owl 9.
Following the kickoff, Southern's first play was intercepted by junior corner Derek Perkins (Milton, Mass./Milton HS), who returned it 41 yards for a pick-six. Junior Grant Buchanan (Holliston, Mass./Holliston HS) delivered the extra point, giving Bentley a 17-16 lead.
Later in the quarter, after a short punt gave the visiting Falcons the ball at the Southern 48, Leary led the Falcons downfield and finished the eight-play drive with a seven yard TD run. Buchanan's extra point made it 24-16 with 4:28 to play.
The ensuing kickoff was returned from three yards deep to the Bentley 25 by senior Vochan Fowler (Bridgeport, Conn.). The Owls scored five plays later, a two-yard run by junior Matt Sanzaro (Wethersfield, Conn.) cutting the Falcon advantage to 24-22 with 2:06 left. A pass from Sansazo on the attempted two-point conversion was off the mark, preserving the Falcon lead.
Southern's onside kick attempt was recovered by Bentley sophomore Brad Rogers (Hanover, Mass./Hanover HS) and the Falcons were able to run out the clock. Sophomore Andrew Brazicki (Franklin Lake, N.J./Bishop Ahr HS), who led the Falcons with 84 yards (16 carries), gained 30 on the clinching possession, including a 23-yard scamper on a third-and-nine.
Southern took a 16-0 lead into the halftime break after outgaining the Falcons 272-22 and amassing 12 of the game's 14 first downs during the first 30 minutes.
The Owls opened the game with a 12-play, 84-yard drive that ate up nearly seven minutes and culminated with an eight-yard keeper by Sanzaro. In the second quarter, Fowler finished another extended drive, this one 95 yards, with a 33-yard spurt up the middle for a score.
With two minutes left until intermission, Southern was awarded a safety when the Falcons were called for holding in the end zone on a punt. Making it hurt even more, it negated a fumble recovery by Falcon sophomore Max Drinon (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Paul's School (N.H.)) when the Owls mishandled the return.
Bentley got on the scoreboard 4:15 into the second half when Buchanan put a 23-yard field goal through the uprights. That drive included two plays in which the Falcons gained as much or more than they did in the entire first half, a 22-yard pass from Leary to Zlogar (5 catches for 71 yards) and a 26-yard run by Brazicki.
Second-half yardage favored Bentley, 241-110, as the Falcons came alive on both sides of the ball.
Sanzaro finished 10 of 22 for Southern and Owl senior running back Eli Parks (Bristol, Conn.) gained 135 yards on 30 rushes.
Junior punter Jack O'Hanlon (South Huntington, N.Y./Chaminade HS) impressed for Bentley, averaging 45.1 yards on seven kicks.
Next Saturday, Bentley will host Merrimack College in the Falcons' annual Homecoming Day game.