DUDLEY, Mass. (Nov. 5) - First year kicker Mark Moore (Hattiesburg, Miss.) kicked three field goals, including a 45-yarder into the wind as the Salve Regina University football team fended off a late comeback attempt by host Nichols College in a 37-27 New England Football Conference Boyd Division victory at Vendetti Field Saturday afternoon. The game marked the season finale for both squads.
The Seahawks (7-3, 5-2) took advantage of four first-half turnovers to score a pair of touchdowns and take a 27-0 lead into halftime. Nichols, however, shined in the second half of the game, scoring four times, including three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, among 195 yards of offense.
The Bison seniors were a strong component of the day's game, as receivers Reggie Belizaire (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Brandon Haddad (Pascoag, R.I.) caught touchdown passes in the final quarter, while defensive lineman Josh Roza (Rumford, R.I.) recovered a fumble and returned it 29 yards for the game's final strike.
Nichols (0-10, 0-7) scored on the opening drive of the second half to start its comeback threat. Quarterback Jacob Shoup (Boca Raton, Fla.) hit receiver Dylan Rimsky (Denville, N.J.) and Belizaire with passes of 23 and 26 yards respectively before finding David Gonzalez (Springfield, Mass.) for a 21-yard connection. The Bison benefitted from a roughing the passer call to set up first and goal from the five yard line, where Shoup took it the rest of the way by himself to get Nichols on the board. Back-up punter Jake Holmes (Westborough, Mass.) hit the first PAT attempt of his career to make it 27-7 in favor of Salve Regina.
Moore edged the Seahawks back ahead with a 39-yard field goal to cap an eight-play, 36-yard drive that spanned almost five minutes late in the third, and Salve got the ball right back on DePaolo's second pick of the day.
Moore missed a 51-yarder to start the fourth quarter, setting up the Bison to score on their first possession of the stanza. A reverse pass play saw Shoup on the receiving end of a John Sindone pass for 11 yards and a first down, and later the home crowd breathed a sigh of relief when an apparent interception was called back on another SRU roughing the passer call. Shoup recovered to find Belizaire twice, including the final strike, a 14-yard scoring catch in the corner of the endzone under heavy coverage. Holmes was good for the kick again and the Bison trailed, 13-30 with 10:05 left in the game.
Salve Regina picked up the ensuing on-side kick at the Bison 43 and used just two plays to find the endzone as Dan Buonocore (Mahwah, N.J.) ran it 34 yards down the near sideline to push the score ahead to 37-13.
Despite a diving catch just inside the near sideline on fourth and five by Sindone, the Bison found themselves a yard short and turned it over on their next possession at the Seahawks' 32. The Nichols defense forced Salve Regina to punt and Nichols set up on their own 37.
Tyler Greathead (Pepperell, Mass.) took over at quarterback and the Bison used a pair of 15-yard penalties to march down the field for Greathead to connect with Haddad on a 23-yard lofty pass with 20 seconds left on the clock. Holmes made it a 3-for-3 debut day and Nichols trailed, 21-37.
Salve Regina quarterback Bradley Skeffington (Salem, Mass.) fumbled the Seahawks' first play on their next possession at their own 40, where Roza pounced on the ball and ran it 29 yards in for a touchdown with six ticks left on the clock. Nichols went for two, but the rush was stuffed, and the final stayed at 27-37.
The first half was all Salve Regina, as the Seahawks held the Bison to just 68 yards of offense while racking up 155. Buonocore's potent rushing game combined with two field goals from Moore and several key Nichols mistakes set up the Seahawks with a big lead.
Moore set the tone early by capping a 10-play, 39-yard drive with a 44-yard field goal with the game's first five minutes. Shane Lange (Branford, Conn.) recovered a fumble on the Bison's first possession to set up the Seahawks' next scoring drive.
Salve Regina started at the Bison 29, and used a Buonocore 21-yard gain to grab first down at the Nichols five. Connor Kelly broke a tackle and ran it in the remaining yardage for an early 10-0 lead.
DePaolo stopped Nichols' next drive with his first pick of the day, but the Nichols defense held the Seahawks to 10 yards on the drive, forcing them to punt.
A clock-eating drive in the second quarter saw Moore come through again, this time with a 45-yarder into the wind to give Salve Regina a 13-0 lead after a 13-play, 52-yard drive that took more than six minutes off the board.
Joshua Burnett (Whitman, Mass.) recovered a bad snap on a Bison punt attempt for the Seahawks' next score, and on Nichols' ensuing possession, Phil Terio (Trumbull, Conn.) blocked the punt for Dan Allard (Sutton, Mass.) to run back six yards and a 27-0 Salve Regina lead.
Skeffington and Steven Wilken (Ringwood, N.J.) split the throwing duties for Salve Regina, combining for 76 yards on a 13-for-22 effort. Buonocore led the ground attack with 92 yards on nine carries.
Shoup was 15-for38 with three interceptions for the Bison, netting 161 yards and a touchdown. Shoup added 40 yards on the ground and a rushing score. On the ground, Irie Perry (West Palm Beach, Fla.) logged 43 yards on 19 carries.
Carlos Santos (Trumbull, Conn.) led Salve Regina with a game-high 11 tackles (two solo) and a pair of pass breakups. Alex DiNardo (Wellington, Fla.) had nine (five solo) for Nichols, as well as an interception. Senior Christopher Kerrigan (Hyde Park, Mass.) also logged nine (four solo) for the Bison.
Courtesy of Nichols sports information