MIDDLETOWN, R.I. - Sophomore quarterback Steven Wilken (Ringwood, N.J.) compiled 393 yards of offense and four touchdown passes as the Salve Regina University football team earned its 10th straight victory with a convincing 41-24 win over Endicott during its New England Football Conference (NEFC) Boyd Division opener at Gaudet Field on Homecoming Weekend. The Seahawks are now a perfect 4-0 (1-0 NEFC Boyd) on the season and have not lost since October 1 of last year. The Gulls even their record at 2-2 overall with the loss and begin Boyd Division play at 0-1.
Wilken had a terrific day behind center, completing 17-of-26 attempts for 302 yards and four scores through the air, while also rushing for 91 yards on 15 carries (6.1 YPC). Sophomore Dan Buonocore (Mahwah, N.J.) led all players in rushing, totaling 109 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries (9.1 YPC), while also catching five passes for 54 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown reception. Sophomore Matthew Traynor (Secaucus, N.J.) reeled in five passes for a game-high 112 yards receiving, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the process, while senior Trey Scales (Boston, Mass.) added three catches for 89 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown grab.
Defensively, the Seahawks received a great effort from sophomore Matt Conroy (Philadelphia, Pa.) who led all players with 13 tackles and also grabbed an interception. Sophomore Phil Terio(Trumbull, Conn.) continued to make big plays, intercepting a pair of passes while taking one back 52 yards for a touchdown. Junior Joshua Burnett (Whitman, Mass.) and senior Anthony Hannon (Orange, Calif.) also played well, making 12 and 11 stops, respectively.
The Gulls were led offensively by sophomore quarterback Drew Frenette (New Bedford, Mass.) who completed 22-of-46 passes for 248 yards, tossing one touchdown and three interceptions. Senior running back Jared DiBiase (Cranston, R.I.) totaled a team-high 78 yards on the ground, while sophomore Ryan McLaughlin (Tomkins Cove, N.Y.) ran in a pair of touchdowns. On defense, junior Andre Holfinger (Sterling, Mass.) made 11 tackles, including seven solo stops and three tackles for a loss. Freshman Brian Kolosky (Plymouth, Conn.) added 10 stops and a fumble recovery in the loss, while junior Davas Wright (Fall River, Mass.) compiled three pass breakups and an interception.
After holding the Gulls to a quick three-and-out on their opening possession, the Seahawks took over at their own 16-yard line and promptly marched 84 yards on six plays for the game's first score. Wilken started the drive with a 41-yard strike to Traynor and then finished the march by going back to Traynor for an 11-yard touchdown. Endicott junior Andrew Lawson (Framingham, Mass.) blocked the extra point to keep Salve Regina's lead at 6-0.
The Gulls drove to the Salve Regina 30 yard line on their very next possession, when the Seahawks made a stand on 4th-and-one to cause a turnover on downs.
After a missed field goal on the ensuing drive, the Seahawks defense held for another quick three-and-out to get the ball back. The Seahawk offense responded with a 7-play, 60-yard drive which was capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Wilken to Traynor to give Salve Regina an early 13-0 lead.
On Endicott's very next drive, Terio picked off a pass on the second play of the second quarter and took it back 52 yards for a score to extend the Seahawks' lead to 20-0.
However, the Gulls refused to go away quietly, marching 83 yards on 11 plays, including a one-yard touchdown plunge by McLaughlin to crawl back within 20-7.
On the Seahawks next drive, junior Curtis Manuel (Beverly, Mass.) blocked a Salve Regina punt, giving the Gulls possession on the Salve Regina five yard line, directly leading to a four-yard touchdown run by McLaughlin to make it a one score game, 20-14.
After several failed possessions by both teams, the Seahawks had the ball on their own 41 and elected to go for it on fourth-and-inches. However, the Gulls defense held strong and took over possession inside Salve Regina territory.
Frenette led the Gulls to pay dirt by completing three passes, including a 13-yard touchdown to senior Mike Murphy (Chelmsford, Mass.) to take a 21-20 lead into the break.
After seeing their 20-point lead disappear, the Seahawks came out of the locker room on a mission. Buonocore returned the opening kickoff 31-yards to set up the offense on their own 42. Wilken then connected with Traynor down the left side for 37 yards, before hooking up with Buonocore on the very next play for a 21 yard touchdown, capping a 58-yard drive that took just 27 seconds. After the ensuing extra point was good, the Seahawks were back on top, 27-21.
After a couple of stops by both defenses, the Seahawks gave themselves a cushion by marching 74 yards on 10 plays led by Buonocore. The sophomore rushed five times on the drive for 59 yards, including a three-yard touchdown rush to put Salve Regina on top 34-21.
The Seahawks nationally ranked defense held strong the rest of the way, while the offense tacked on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Wilken to Scales to seal the 41-24 victory.
Both teams return to Boyd Division play next Saturday, with the Gulls hosting Curry at noon, and the Seahawks traveling to face Western New England at 1 p.m.