Bryant Opens NEC Play With Huge Win Over Wagner

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Sophomore running back Paul Canevari (Warwick, N.Y.)
rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns and the Bryant University
defense forced four turnovers on its way to a 47-28 victory over Wagner
in the Northeast Conference opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon
at Hameline Field.

With the victory, the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-0 NEC) now lead the all-time series (1-4, 0-1 NEC), 4-2.

On Saturday, the Black and Gold used a dominant running game and
smothering defense to get past the defending league champs. Bryant
rushed for 301 yards as a team and the defense forced four turnovers
that led to 21 points.

The defense wasted little time making an impact as junior Bobby Rutland (Bethesda, Md.)
picked off a Matt Misley pass on the fourth play of the game to give
the Bulldogs the ball at the Wagner 30. Senior wide receiver Jordan Harris (Lincoln University, Pa.)
then took a reverse 18 yards to put the ball inside the 15, a facemask
pushed the ball inside the 10 and Canvevari's one-yard plunge two plays
later made it 7-0.

Bryant then forced back-to-back three-and-outs before adding to its
lead late in the first quarter. The Black and Gold took over at the
Wagner 34 after a nine-yard punt and a pass interference call extended
the drive and set up a 21-yard field goal from senior Tom Alberti (Marshfield, Mass.).

The Bulldogs extended their lead to 17-0 with a little bit of
trickery in the second quarter. On first-and-15, Harris took the handoff
on an end-around, stopped and fired deep down to field to sophomore Chad Ward (Delray Beach, Fla.) for a 49-yard completion. Canevari followed with an eight-yard touchdown scamper to extend the lead.

Wagner was finally able to respond on its next drive, needing just
three plays to go 78 yards. Chris Andrews connected with Tyree Watkins
for a 67-yard touchdown on the third play of the drive to make it 17-7.

Bryant would not let the Seahawks gain much momentum as they followed
with the next 10 points. Alberti's second 21-yard field goal of the
afternoon capped a nine-play, 45-yard drive to make it 20-7 and junior Ricardo McCray's (Middletown, R.I.)
16-yard touchdown reception made it 27-7 with 1:05 left in the half.
Canevari produced runs of 23 and 27 to start the drive before senior Mike Westerhaus (Farmingville, N.Y.) found McCray open in the flat for the 16-yard score.

The Seahawks responded with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Watkins
with just six seconds left in the half and then nearly turned the game
on its head to start the third quarter. The Bulldogs fumbled the opening
snap of the second half but senior Connor McNamara (Sandy Hook, Conn.) stripped Wagner's Chris Andrews on the very next play and redshirt junior Michael Johnson (New Market, Md.) recovered it and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown.

Bryant put the game away with another outstanding defensive play. Junior Sam Sammons (Cypress, Texas)
made a diving interception along the sideline to give Bryant the ball
on the Wagner 27 and Canevari bursted into the endzone three plays later
for his third touchdown of the game. McCray's four-yard plunge three
minutes into the fourth quarter pushed the lead to 47-21.

The Bulldogs ended the day with 441 yards of total offense, while the
Seahawks put up 403. Canevari's 173 yards were a career-high and McCray
added 89 yards on 17 carries. Westerhaus finished with 91 yards
passing, while Harris finished with 41 yards rushing, 49 yards passing
and 13 yards receiving. Junior Maduka Nwanekezi (Milton, Mass.) led the defense with seven tackles, 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss. Sebastian Amedee (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) also picked up seven tackles and the Black and Gold racked up five sacks on the afternnon.

Bryant returns to action next weekend when it travels to Stony Brook,
N.Y., to face the Seawolves. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.