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Football Blanked by Saint Anselm in NE10 Opener, 27-0

Nick Oliveira-Chace

RINDGE, N.H. (September 17, 2022) -- The Division II football battle of New Hampshire was one-sided at Sodexo Field on Saturday night. The Franklin Pierce University football team was outgained by Saint Anselm by more than 200 yards, 350-128, which included a 236-70 margin through the air. It was all Hawks in the Northeast-10 Conference opener for both teams, as Saint Anselm posted a 27-0 victory. It was Saint Anselm's first shutout in nearly 20 years, since the Hawks opened the 2004 season with a 24-0 win at Plymouth State.

With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 0-3 (0-1 NE10), while Saint Anselm improves to 3-0 (1-0 NE10).

The game was slow to get going, as the two teams combined for three straight three-and-outs following the opening kickoff. When Saint Anselm finally got a drive going, it converted it into points almost immediately. After forcing Franklin Pierce to punt from deep in its own end, the Hawks took over on the plus-side of midfield, at the Franklin Pierce 40-yard line. It took Saint Anselm just six plays to find the end zone from there, as junior Drew Willoughby hit sophomore Carson Goda for an 11-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring. The Hawks would go for two right out of the gate, but the conversion attempt was intercepted.

Saint Anselm added a pair of field goals in the second quarter, as sophomore Patrick Carroll connected from 40 and 41 yards, to push the lead out to 12-0 heading into halftime.

The Hawks had the ball coming out of halftime and needed just three plays to cover 57 yards and find the end zone for a second time. Willoughby hooked up with senior Anthony Brown this time, from nine yards out, and another failed two-point conversion left the score at 18-0.

Franklin Pierce's best chance to break up the shutout came on the ensuing drive. The Ravens marched 81 yards down the field on 16 plays, over a span of 7:15. The drive included a pair of fourth-down conversions, as junior Kevaris Thomas (Lakeland, Fla.) found fellow junior Christian Simon (Riverview, Fla.) for 11 yards on a fourth-and-10 play, and then later scrambled for two yards to keep things going on fourth-and-two. The Ravens eventually had first-and-goal at the 6-yard line, but went four-and-out from there, as the drive stalled and resulted in a turnover on downs.

Saint Anselm added a touchdown early in the fourth quarter as Willoughby threw for his third score of the day, a 28-yard strike to junior Carter Uhlman. A bad snap by Franklin Pierce deep in its own end resulted in a late safety which capped the scoring and created the 27-0 final.

For Franklin Pierce, Thomas finished just 9-for-23 for 70 yards, while graduate student EJ Burgess (Pearland, Texas) was held to 61 yards on 20 carries (3.0 yards/rush). Thomas was also sacked twice, and the Ravens yielded 11 tackles for loss, on a tough night for the offensive line. Defensively, sophomore Beji Auguste (Kissimmee, Fla.) led the team with seven tackles (three solo), including one sack, and recovered a fumble as well.

For Saint Anselm, Willoughby led the way, as he went 26-for-38 for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Vincent Wagner led the Hawks on the ground with nine carries for 72 yards (8.0 yards per rush), including a long of 43, which helped set up the second Saint Anselm touchdown. Senior Bobby Long had three catches for 49 yards, while Goda had a game-best five catches, for 43 yards and a score. Defensively, junior Devin Wood had seven tackles (five solo), including 1.5 tackles for loss.

The Ravens hit the road next week for an NE10 contest at American International, at noon on Saturday, Sept. 24, in Springfield, Mass.