WORCESTER, Mass. – Down 28 with a minute left in the third quarter at Multi-Purpose Stadium, the Bentley University Falcons ran off 28 unanswered points to forge a 42-42 tie before Assumption College claimed the Northeast-10 Conference victory, 45-42, on a 35-yard field goal in the first overtime.
The Greyhounds (4-1, 3-0 NE10) regained the lead when freshman Patrick May (Boylston) kicked a 35-yard field goal, the first of his career, to finish the home team's first overtime possession.
Bentley (2-2, 1-1 NE10) was also forced to attempt a field goal, but the 43-yarder from senior Grant Buchanan (Holliston/Holliston HS) was well off the mark after being deflected.
Bentley's amazing comeback began with a school record 94-yard kickoff return by sophomore Isaiah Collins (Dorchester Center/Belmont Hill School) with 1:09 left in the third. The Falcons' first kick return for a TD since 2011 was the longest in program history, surpassing Dennis Byrne's 92-yarder in 1992.
On the very first play after a defensive stop, Bentley junior QB Stephen Sturm (Collegeville, Pa./ Perkiomen Valley HS) teamed up with sophomore wide receiver Noah Neville (Beaton/Newton North HS) for their second scoring pass of the day, this one covering 56 yards. Buchanan tacked on one of six extra points he'd make on the day and the deficit was down to 14 with 14:35 left.
A Greyhound three-and-out returned the ball to the Falcons and this time Bentley embarked on a 10-play, 85-yard drive. Senior running back Jordan Artope (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Hendrick Hudson HS) finished it with a two-yard run, his second TD of the afternoon and sixth of the season bringing the Falcons within seven with 8:17 to play.
Following a third straight three-and-out and a short punt, Bentley regained possession at the Hound 46. A 23-yard pass from Sturm to senior slot receiver Drew Mahoney (West Suffield, Conn./Suffield Academy) on a fourth-and-19 kept the drive alive and another fourth down completion to Mahoney, this one of eight yards, resulted in the game-tying touchdown with 2:08 left in regulation.
There were very few Bentley highlights before Collins' game-changing kickoff return. Assumption took a 28-7 lead into the half following three touchdowns by senior Khaleed Exum-Strong (Norwichtown, Conn.) and three Sturm interceptions in the second quarter alone. Exum-Strong scored his fourth of the afternoon, making it 42-14, on a five-yard run with 1:09 to play in the third.
Bentley's first-half touchdown was a 35-yarder from Sturm to Neville nine minutes into the second after Assumption had scored the game's first 21 points. Artope scored in the third on a two-yard run.
Sturm finished 21 of 39 for 293 yards and three TDs, including 9 of 12 for 172 in the fourth. Mahoney, the NCAA Division II leader in receiving, finished with 10 catches, matching his season average, for 104 yards and Neville had a career day, with five for 120 yards. Collins had over 140 kick return yards for the second straight game, finishing with six for 144. Senior linebacker Marc Doran (Ramsey, N.J./Saint Joseph Regional) led Bentley in tackles with nine.
Senior running back Doug Santos (Peabody) rushed for 127 yards and one TD for Assumption on 21 carries. Exum-Strong scored his four TDs on 14 carries, good for 43 yards.
Bentley totaled a season-high 422 yards total offense, 27 more than Assumption, but had all three of the game's turnovers.
Next up for Bentley is a 2 pm home game against Southern Connecticut State next Saturday.