Redshirt junior Price Wilson (Marietta, Ga.) tied a Northeast Conference record with six touchdown passes and senior Tom Kennedy (Farmingdale, N.Y.) set a career-high with 151 receiving yards and three scores as the Bryant University football team earned a scintillating 48-45 victory over rival Sacred Heart on Saturday afternoon at Beirne Stadium.
Trailing by nine in the third quarter, the Bulldogs (4-5, 2-2 NEC) rattled off 27-consecutive points to take a 48-30 lead with 13:45 left in the game. The Pioneers, however, responded with the next 15 points to pull within three with 6:17 left in the game. It wasn't until redshirt sophomore Richard Ukele (East Longmeadow, Mass.) intercepted Kevin Duke with 1:08 left that the game was decided.
Wilson finished his historic day 24-of-34 for 345 yards and a program-record six touchdown passes. The mark tied Dale Fink's (Sacred Heart) league record that has stood since Nov. 14, 2009. Wilson threw three TDs to Kenney, a pair to redshirt sophomore Jean Constant (Delray Beach, Fla.) and one to senior Matt Sewall (Portsmouth, R.I.).
Bryant was able to win the game despite allowing Sacred Heart to gain 556 yards of total offense and 35 first downs. Sophomore Jesse Nemerowicz (Hudson, Mass.) posted 15 tackles and classmate Robert Brown (Palmetto Bay, Fla.) collected a career-high 10 stops.
Bryant 48, Sacred Heart 45
Records: Bryant (4-5, 2-2), Sacred Heart 3-6 (1-3)
Location: Beirne Stadium | Smithfield, R.I.
COACH PERRY'S COMMENTS
"We continued to play really, really well. It's exciting to see us play some of our best football down the stretch here. Some really hard work is starting to pay off. Terrific football team, Sacred Heart today, and a terrific win.
I knew it was going to be intense, and it matched everything that I knew it was going to be. Even when we were up 18, I knew they were going to keep fighting and keep coming at us and of course, they did, and that's a credit to them. Our kids responded very well. To finish the game that way, that's exactly what I want Bryant football to be all about."
Trailing 30-28 in the third quarter, Bryant's defense stopped the Pioneers on third down on back-to-back drives, leading to 13-straight points for the Black and Gold. Sacred Heart had been 11-of-14 on third down prior to the two drives.
With the Black and Gold clinging to a three-point lead late in the game, Ukele chose the perfect time for his first-career interception. On 2nd-and-10 from the Bryant 48, Duke's pass across the middle deflected off the receiver and into the arms of Ukele, sealing the Bryant victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Pioneers put the first points on the board with an 11-play, 76-yard drive in the first quarter. Byron Barney capped the drive with a two-yard TD reception.
The Bulldogs answered a long drive of their own, going 64 yards in 10 plays. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty helped and a key eight-yard completion to sophomore Hayden Panagos (Hillsborough, N.J.) on third down kept the drive alive. A six-yard pass to Sewall capped it.
Bryant opened the second quarter with a bang, taking the lead on a 74-yard touchdown by Kennedy. The Bulldogs went play action on the first play of the drive and Wilson hit Kennedy in stride to make it 14-7.
SHU answered with the next 14 points, tying the game on a five-yard run by Ose Imeokparia before putting together an impressive 20-play, 81-yard drive to take the lead. The Pioneers converted six third downs during the drive.
Bryant was able to answer with a nine-play drive that was capped by another Wilson-to-Kennedy touchdown. The 29-yard strike tied the game with 38 seconds left in the half.
Sacred Heart, however, took the lead into the half as Josh Freiria's 19-yard field goal capped a swift five-play, 66-yard drive.
The Pioneers extended the lead with a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter. After video replay overturned a Pioneer fumble, Duke connected with Andrew O'Neill for a 26-yard score. The PAT was blocked, however, leaving the score at 30-21.
Bryant would score 27 points over the next 12:45 to take a 48-30 lead. Sewall opened the ensuing drive with a 50-yard run on a reverse and Kennedy's third touchdown reception of the game came five plays later to make it 30-28.
The Black and Gold then stopped the Pioneers on third down and needed just four plays to go 86 yards and take the lead. On 3rd-and-9, Wilson found Constant downfield and the shifty receiver made two men miss before going 67 yards for the score.
On the ensuing possession, the Pioneers were attempting to punt when the snap was bobbled by Freiria. Junior Vincent Nisivoccia (Nutley, N.J.) scooped up the loose ball and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown, making it 41-30 with 3:37 left in the third quarter.
After another SHU three-and-out, Bryant drove 80 yards in nine plays to make it 48-30 1:15 into the final quarter. Wilson opened the drive with a 20-yard run and senior Jake Wiswall (Great River, N.Y.) followed with 25 more yards. Redshirt freshman Alfred Dorbor (Pawtucket, R.I.) picked up three yards on 4th-and-1 from the SHU 10 before Constant hauled in a six-yard pass to cap the drive.
Sacred Heart responded with a 13-play drive that included seven completions from Duke. Nate Chavious capped the drive with a four-yard run. The Pioneers then stopped Bryant on 4th-and-1 and proceeded to make it a three-point game on an 11-yard scoring run by Chavious.
The Bulldogs finished with 505 yards of total offense and averaged eight yards per play.
Bryant finished with 100+ rushing yards for the second-straight week. The Bulldogs posted 160 yards on the ground against the league's second-best run defense.
Wilson finished 24-of-34 for 345 yards and a single-game record six touchdowns.
Kennedy had five catches for 151 yards and three touchdowns.
Wiswall led Bryant with 13 carries for a career-high 62 yards.
Sewall posted a team-high seven catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Constant had six catches for 86 yards and two scores.
Nemerowicz posted a team-high 15 tackles. He made nine solo stops.
Brown picked up 10 tackles and a tackle for a loss.
Bryant had four other players finish with seven tackles.
Bryant evened the all-time series with Sacred Heart at 5-5 with the victory. The Bulldogs have won two straight.
The Bulldogs put up 500+ yards of total offense for the third time this season.
Wilson registered his fifth 300-yard passing game of the season and his first in four weeks.
Wilson's six touchdown passes broke Dalton Easton's previous single-game record of five back on Oct. 18, 2014.
Wilson moved into second place in Bryant's single-season record book with 2,746 passing yards. He needs just 109 passing yards to break the record.
Wilson also became the fourth different QB in school history to throw 20+ TD passes in a season.
Kennedy's five catches went for a career-high 151 yards and three scores. The 151 yards are the ninth-most in a single game, while the three scores are tied for the second-most in a single game.
Kennedy now ranks seventh in a single season in receiving yards (703), tied for eighth in receptions (41) and tied for sixth in touchdowns (7).
Constant posted 111 all-purpose yards and his 1,393 AP yards rank ninth in a single season.
Sewall posted 97 all-purpose yards and is now 26 yards shy of 2,000 for his career.
Nemerowicz has now posted 10+ tackles in three of his four games this season. He is averaging 12 tackles per game.
The Bulldogs head to Moon Township, Pa., to face Robert Morris next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.