The Associated Press
Alberti's FG gives Bryant 17-16 win vs. Holy Cross
Smithfield, R.I. (AP) _ Tom Alberti kicked a game-winning field goal with 38 seconds remaining to give Bryant a 17-16 victory against Holy Cross on Saturday.
Alberti's 30-yard kick capped a 10-play Bulldogs' drive in the season opener for both teams. Bryant controlled the clock but struggled to score until Alberti's kick. Mike Westerhaus was 21 for 40 for 323 yards, but was intercepted twice by the Crusaders.
Holy Cross' Kyle Toulouse returned a Bryant punt 77 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter but kicker John Macomber missed the extra point, a miscue that cost the Crusaders.
Steven Elder, who last season completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,281 yards and seven touchdowns, threw 23 for 41 and 301 yards. But the Bulldog defense kept the heat on Elder throughout the game, sacking him six times and forcing three interceptions and a fumble.
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Senior kicker Tom Alberti (Marshfield, Mass.) drilled a 30-yard field goal with just 38 seconds left in the game and Holy Cross senior kicker John Macomber missed a 43-yard field goal as time expired as the Bryant University football team held on for a heart-pumping 17-16 victory on opening day Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.
After building a 14-6 lead at the half, the Bulldogs (1-0) needed Alberti's right leg to earn their first victory over a Patriot League opponent since the 2010 season. The Crusaders fell to 0-1 with the loss.
Trailing by two points, the Black and Gold got the ball at their own 16 with 3:09 to play and proceeded to drive 71 yards in 10 plays on the eventual winning drive. Senior Mike Westerhaus (Farmingville, N.Y.) connected with classmate Jordan Harris (Lincoln University, Pa.) for a big 45-yard gain over the middle to put the Bulldogs into Holy Cross and kick-start the drive. Three plays later, the Black and Gold were facing a 4th-and-2 from the 31 and Westerhaus again hit Harris, this time for 10 yards to give the Bulldogs a crucial first down. Back-to-back runs from junior Ricardo McCray (Middletown, R.I.) moved the ball to the middle of the field and Alberti followed by knocking down his first field goal in over two years.
Holy Cross wasn't done yet, however, as it drove 49 yards in seven plays but could not convert on the final kick. Steven Elder hit Nate Stanley for 23 yards to move the ball into Bryant territory and his completion two plays later to Stanley put the ball on the Bryant 26. The Crusaders then called timeout to set up the field goal but Macomber pulled the kick and missed wide left.
Outside of the scintillating final two minutes, Saturday's opener was a battle of two halves. The Black and Gold dominated the first half, building a 14-6 lead. The Crusaders struck first as Kyle Toulouse returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown but the Bulldogs responded by dominating the rest of the half. Bryant forced three Holy Cross turnovers and allowed just 82 yards of total offense.
Following the Toulouse return, the teams traded turnovers as sophomore Brandon Dagnesses (Miami, Fla.) picked off an Elder pass at the Bryant two yard line to stunt a Crusader drive. Two drives later, redshirt-junior Michael Johnson (New Market, Md.) sacked Elder to force a Holy Cross punt. The Bulldogs would score on the ensuing possession, driving 80 yards in just four plays. McCray started the drive with a 15-yard run and then broke free for 45 yards to put the ball to the Holy Cross 20. Two plays later, Westerhaus hit sophomore Jose Depadua in the endzone for a 17-yard touchdown. It was the first touchdown reception of Depadua's career.
Bryant's second forced turnover of the half led to its second score. Junior Maduka Nwanekezi (Milton, Mass.) stripped the ball from Elder on a sack and senior Ryan Schermerhorn (Bedford, N.Y.) recovered it at the Crusaders 30. The Bulldogs wasted no time taking advantage as Westerhaus completed a pass to Chad Ward (Delray Beach, Fla.) and the sophomore did the rest as he eluded one tackle and then dove to the pylon for his first career touchdown reception.
The second half was a much different story, as the Crusaders came out and scored 10-straight points. After forcing the Bulldogs to punt from their own six, Holy Cross needed just four plays to convert. A 15-yard completion to Mike Fess was followed by a personal foul to put the ball at the Bryant 20, and Elder hit Tyler Artim in the corner of the endzone for a 16-yard touchdown two plays later to make it 14-13. Holy Cross' defense continued to stymie the Bulldogs and a 10-play drive at the end of the third quarter eventually gave the Crusaders their first lead since the first quarter. Gabe Guild scampered 48 yards on a screen pass to put the ball at the Bryant 17 and Macomber knocked down a 28-yard field goal four plays later to make it 16-14.
The Bulldogs finished the afternoon with 487 yards of total offense, while the Crusaders put up 306. Westerhaus completed 21-of-40 passes for 323 yards and two scores, while Harris caught six of them for 127 yards. Depadua caught five passes for 75 yards and Ward added four catches for 63 yards. McCray carried the ball 23 times for 117 yards and sophomore Paul Canevari (Warwick, N.Y.) rushed for 42 yards on nine carries.
The Bulldogs are at home again next weekend as they host Assumption. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.