WALTHAM, Mass. – Pleasantville, N.Y. is the latest destination for the Bentley University football team which will be playing on the road Saturday for the fifth time in seven games this fall.
Coming off a walk-off win at Stonehill College, Coach Bill Kavanaugh's Falcons will be looking to make it two in a row when they take on Pace University. Kickoff is at 1 pm and the game can be viewed on the NE10 NOW digital network.
Bentley will make the trip with records of 2-2 Northeast-10 and 2-4 overall. They'll be meeting a Pace team that has been idle since a last-minute touchdown gave the Setters (4-2, 3-1 NE10) a 35-32 win over Assumption on Oct. 12. Pace is one of three NE10 teams with one conference loss, including Stonehill, and Bentley is one of three with two NE10 defeats.
At Stonehill, Bentley walked off with a 30-27 win on the strength of a 32-yard field goal by senior Grant Buchanan (Holliston/Holliston HS) as time expired. It was the third of the fourth quarter for the Falcon placekicker who is ten away from becoming the seventh player in program history with 200 career points.
Bentley totaled 401 yards total offense, its second highest production of the season, at Stonehill against a Skyhawk defense that entered the game ranked number one in Division II in third down conversion defense, first downs allowed, passing yards allowed and total defense. The Falcons controlled the ball for 36 minutes and converted half of their 16 third downs.
The Falcons had success moving the ball both through the air and on the ground, with 225 yards passing and 169 rushing. Junior QB Stephen Sturm (Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley HS) completed 20 of 36 without an interception and finished with 225 yards and two TDs. He also ran for 49 yards and another TD.
Senior receiver Drew Mahoney (West Suffield, Conn./Suffield Academy) caught ten passes for 114 yards, the fourth time in five games he's had at least than many receptions. Jordan Artope (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Hendrick Hudson HS), also a senior, led the ground game with 83 yards, including a 25-yard gain on the winning drive.
Sturm tops the Northeast-10 in passing yards (1,326) and completions (127) while completing 60 percent of his attempts. He's number two in the NE10 in total offense (251.0) and will enter Saturday's game 323 shy of 5,000 for his career.
Mahoney, with 55 catches for 595 yards, is second nationally in Division II in receptions per game, averaging 9.2. Artope is third in the NE10 in rushing TDs with seven.
The Bentley defense has come up with 13 takeaways through six games, ranking fourth in the conference. Three of those came at Stonehill, resulting in 17 Falcon points. Senior defensive backs Will Sheriffs (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) and Quintin-John McDermott (Franklin/Milton Academy) each recovered a fumble and senior corner Derek Perkins (Milton/Milton HS) became the sixth Bentley player this fall to intercept a pass. Fumbles were forced by junior Matt Pennell (Oceanport, N.J./ Shore Reg. HS) and senior Nnamdi Okaka (Shrewsbury/Shrewsbury HS).
Senior linebacker Marc Doran (Ramsey, N.J./Saint Joseph Reg. HS), who caught a fourth-down pass on a fake punt to keep the game-winning drive alive, continues to lead the team in tackles with 44, six more than senior All-Conference defensive back Pete Thorbahn (Norwell/Xaverian Bros. HS).
The Pace program has turned around the last two years, posting an 11-5 mark since the start of the 2018 season. In sharp contrast, the Setters won only six times from 2010-17 with three of those coming in 2017. This season has seen coach Andy Rondeau's team post wins over Southern Connecticut, Franklin Pierce, Saint Anselm and Assumption while falling by one to Millersville and to seven at New Haven.
Quarterback Carlton Aiken leads the NE10 in total offense (255.5) and has been responsible for 16 touchdowns. He's thrown for 11 scores and has rushed for a team-leading 452 yards and five TDs.
Darius Jones, his primary target with 31 receptions, has caught five TD passes, and graduate student Jhalen Bien-Aime has rushed for a school record 2,651 yards during his career, including 399 this season. He topped 1,000 yards in 2017 and finished last year with 922.
Pace is second in the NE10 in red zone offense, with 18 touchdowns and four field goals in 24 changes, a 92 percent success rate. They also lead the NE10 in fewest turnovers (7) and in most passes intercepted (9).
Last year, Pace used a 40-yard overtime field goal to edge the Falcons, 23-20. It was a tale of two halves with Bentley scoring 20 unanswered in the first half and the Setters doing the same in the second. Bien-Aime had a big game for Pace, with 210 rushing yards, and Bentley came up with four takeaways, including a 100-yard pick six by Perkins.
Bentley will play two of its three November games at home, beginning with a Homecoming contest against Saint Anselm next Saturday.