PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – A 40-yard pass from junior Stephen Sturm (Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley HS) to Noah Neville (Boston, Mass./Newton North HS) with 3:43 play returned the lead to Bentley University and the Falcons went on to spoil Pace University's Homecoming, 28-21, in Northeast-10 Conference football at Pace Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Neville's second long TD reception of the afternoon helped Bentley post their second straight road victory and move into a multi-team tie for second place in the NE10 in the loss column. The Falcons, who were playing on the road for the fifth time in seven games, improved to 3-2 conference and 3-4 overall. Pace fell to 4-3 overall and is even with Bentley in the conference standings.
Bentley, which carried a 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter, was looking at a 21-20 deficit when it took possession of the ball at its own 10 with 7:53 to play. The Falcons converted three straight third downs, with a 16-yard run by Sturm to the 27 on a third-and-nine, a five-yard pass to junior Austin Ryan (Foxborough, Mass./Foxborough HS) to the 39 on a third-and-five and a 15-yard run by senior Jordan Artope (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Hendrick Hudson HS) to the Pace 47 on a third-and-11.
Two plays later, Sturm went deep to Neville for 40 yards and a 26-21 lead. Coach Bill Kavanaugh went for two and senior wide receiver Drew Mahoney (West Suffield, Conn./Suffield Academy) delivered, hitting classmate Ryan McCarthy (Holden, Mass./Wachusett Reg. HS) for the two-point conversion and a seven-point advantage.
Following two changes of possession, Pace regained the ball at its own 14 with 1:36 to play. The first two plays resulted in sacks with sophomore Cedric Dashiell II (Buena Park, Calif./Buena Park HS) involved in both.
A 43-yard pass on third down kept the Setters' hopes alive and after two incompletions and a nine-yard pass, Pace had time for one throw to the end zone. It was picked off by sophomore Aaron Racki (Tampa, Fla./Cambridge Christian HS) with no time left, securing the victory.
With the exception of Pace's opening drive, the first half was all Bentley. The visitors took a 20-7 lead into the locker room after outgaining Pace 267-125.
Senior Grant Buchanan (Holliston, Mass./Holliston HS) kicked two field goals (41, 27), Neville was on the receiving end of a 71-yard TD pass and Artope rushed for his eighth touchdown of the season, a two-yard run.
Bentley had a chance to build on its lead but missed a field goal in the third and lost a fumble inside the Setter ten early in the fourth. Pace took advantage, with TD passes of 79 and 24 from senior Carlton Aiken (Gibbstown, N.J.) to senior Darius Jones (Bethlehem, Pa.) putting the home team up 21-20. The first drive was kept alive by a fake punt that reached the line to go by the slimmest of margins and the second saw the Setters aided by two 15-yard penalties on Bentley that took the ball from midfield to the 20.
Bentley outgained Pace by 149 yards, totaling a season-high 475 yards, including 276 on the ground. The Falcons had a 25-16 advantage in first downs and controlled the ball for nearly 36 minutes.
Neville finished with three catches for 120 yards, Artope rushed for 120 on 23 carries and Sturm completed 13 of 27 for 199 yards. He also picked up 63 yards on the ground.
Defensively, the Falcons recorded five sacks, including two by Dashiell II, who also had both a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Junior linebacker Marc Doran (Ramsey, N.J./Saint Joseph Reg. HS) led Bentley in tackles with nine, including 1.5 for losses.
Jones accounted for most of Pace's offense, with four receptions for 151 yards.
Bentley will have play just its third home game of the season next Saturday when it hosts Saint Anselm in its Homecoming game.