WALTHAM, Mass. – Coming off a solid performance but a disappointing final outcome against the 22nd-ranked team in Division II, the Bentley University Falcons will be back on the road Saturday to take on American International College. Kickoff at Ronald J. Abdow Field is 12 noon and the game can be viewed at portal.stretchinternet.com/bentley.
It will be the first of two contests between the Falcons and the Yellow Jackets this season. The game that will be played at Bentley on Nov. 16 will count in the Northeast-10 Conference standings.
Down at West Chester University Saturday, Bentley came up on the short end of a 14-7 tally with the game-winning touchdown scoring with 23 seconds left in regulation. The Falcons forced five turnovers in the contest and showed an ability to run the ball, gaining 203 yards and averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
To put that number into perspective, last year's West Chester team was second nationally in Division II in rushing defense, giving up only 67.5 yards a game and 2.3 per rush. It was only the third time in the last 45 games that a Golden Ram opponent ran for 200 yards or more.
Leading the ground game was junior Andrew Brazicki (Franklin Park, N.J./St. Thomas Aquinas HS), who finished with 131 yards on 19 carries. He accounted for the Falcons' only TD with a 20-yard run and pushed his career rushing total to 1,142 yards. Senior Jordan Artope (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./ Hendrick Hudson HS) was also solid with 13 rushes for 59 yards.
In addition to opening holes for the ball carriers, the Falcon o-line did not allow a sack on 31 pass attempts. Senior left guard Matt Boyle (Duxbury/Duxbury HS), junior center Sean Mitchell (Park Ridge, N.J./Saint Joseph Reg. HS) and Tim Leonard (Rumson, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven HS) each started their 17th career game and the starters also included junior left tackle Jack Kennedy (Marstons Mills/ Barnstable HS) and junior right guard Lucas Debettencourt (Oak Bluffs/Martha's Vineyard Reg. HS).
Junior QB Stephen Sturm (Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley HS) completed 20 of those 31 passes, distributing the ball to seven different players while totaling 131 passing yards. Senior Drew Mahoney (West Suffield, Conn./Suffield Academy) and junior Austin Ryan (Foxborough/Foxborough HS) each caught six passes to lead the receiving corps.
On the defensive side of the ball, Bentley kept a West Chester team that averaged over 38 points a game last fall in check most of the afternoon. The Golden Rams finished with 306 yards, had the ball for only 25:30 and were forced into five turnovers.
Sophomore Aaron Racki (Tampa, Fla./Cambridge Christian HS) and freshman Joseph Howshan (Lawrence/Central Catholic HS) each had interceptions in or just outside the end zone to deny Golden Ram drives and Bentley received fumble recoveries from junior linebacker Marc Doran (Ramsey, N.J./Saint Joseph Reg. HS), senior nose tackle Frank Damata (Framingham/Marian HS) and sophomore d-end Ryan Philibotte (Nashua, N.H./Salisbury School). Sophomore d-back Jailan Branch (Randolph/ Milton Academy) led the team in tackles with ten.
First-half issues prevented Bentley from having a lead bigger than 7-0 at the break. There were an uncharacteristic seven penalties, including a hold that negated a 76-yard TD pass, as well as a dropped pass in the end zone and a missed 21-yard field goal.
Like Bentley, American International came up short in its opener, a 34-20 home loss to Bowie State, despite coming up with five takeaways. The Yellow Jacket offense totaled only 144 yards, did not convert a single third down (0-for-13) and was forced into 11 punts. AIC was limited to only 37 net rushing yards and seven completions in 22 pass attempts.
Despite struggling offensively, AIC carried a 13-10 lead into the second half and was down only four before giving up 17 points in the first 7:01 of the fourth. Redshirt sophomore Chase Speller led the team in rushing with 41 yards and redshirt sophomore Jayson Demild, a transfer from Campbell, completed 7 of 22 passes for 107 yards.
Veteran head coach Art Wilkins has five players back who earned All-Northeast-10 honors last year. Defensive end David Tobe and linebacker Cyriacus Ibezim were second-team selections and the third team included running back Samad Davila, linebacker Jaysen Thompson and punter Rady Rojas-Portilla.
Defensive lineman Ahmad Rabah was named the NE10 Rookie of the Week Monday after recording 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his first collegiate game.
Bentley closed out the 2018 season with a 28-20 victory at American International, the Falcons' fourth straight win in the series. Sturm threw for 331 yards and two scores, with former Falcon Jordan Zlogar (11 catches for 208 yards, 2 TD) having a career day.
After facing AIC, Bentley will have a bye week before hosting New Haven Friday, Sept. 27 in the home opener. That game will be part of the NCAA Showcase series.
BENTLEY BRIEFS: Bentley is 13-11 all-time against AIC after winning the last four ... Freshman Charlie Ogletree (Needham/Needham HS) impressed as the Falcons' punter at West Chester with his 41.5 average third best in the conference opening weekend.