Bryant Takes NEC Opener Over Sacred Heart
Freshman Zevi Eckhaus posted 188 yards of total offense, classmate Fabrice Mukendi rushed for 98 yards and the Bryant University football team held defending Northeast Conference champion Sacred Heart without a touchdown in a 17-6 victory on Saturday night at Beirne Stadium.
Starting his first-career game, Eckhaus completed 10-of-22 passes for 106 yards and a score and also dazzled with his legs, setting a DI program record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 82 on 12 carries. Mukendi also shined in his first home game as a Bulldog, rushing for 98 yards on 17 carries.
Bryant’s defense was the story of the game, however, as it held the Pioneers without a touchdown. The Bulldogs intercepted three passes, all in the second half, and held Sacred Heart to just 227 yards of total offense and a 3-of-14 showing on third down.
Bryant 17, Sacred Heart 6
Records: Bryant (1-1, 1-0 NEC), SHU (1-1, 0-1 NEC)
Location: Smithfield, R.I. (Beirne Stadium)
After Bryant attempted an onside kick to start the second half, Lake Ellis made an acrobatic interception to stall any momentum the Pioneers were trying to build in the second half.
How it Happened
The Pioneers were the first to score on Saturday, converting on a field goal with 3:49 left in the first quarter. SHU started its drive on its own 49 and pushed inside the Bryant 10 but the Black and Gold benefited from a holding call.
Bryant finally started to build momentum as the second quarter rolled around, scoring on consecutive drives. Eckhaus picked up eight yards on a 3rd-and-5 and then hit Psaveon Reaves for 16 yards on 3rd-and-8. He completed another third down pass for 27 yards to Gary Cooper before the Bulldogs pulled out a little trickery. Daniel Adeboboye took the initial handoff and just as he was getting tackled he tossed it to Reaves on a reverse and the speedster followed his blockers for his first-career touchdown.
Collin Elliott’s tackle for a five-yard loss on the next SHU drive forced a Pioneer punt and Bryant drove down the field and scored again. Eckhaus used his legs again, picking up 26 yards to put Bryant in the redzone. A 14-yard run from Mukendi put Bryant inside the five and Eckhaus found Nicholas Hasselman for a four-yard scoring strike, Hasselman’s first-career touchdown.
Bryant’s defense did the rest, limiting the Pioneers to just 105 yards of total offense in the second half. Ellis’s first-career interception stopped SHU’s first drive before it ever got going and Javis Hanks’ first-career interception end another drive later.
In between, David Zorrilla used his legs to pin the Pioneers inside their own 10 with punts of 49 yards and 51 yards.
Sacred Heart made it a one-score game with a 23-yard field goal at the 7:03 mark of the fourth quarter.
Bryant was able to answer, driving 60 yards in 11 plays and taking 5:01 off the clock. Luke Samperi ended the drive with a 26-yard field goal.
Bryant outgained Sacred Heart, 361-227.
The Bulldogs finished 8-of-16 on third downs.
Bryant rushed for 255 yards in the game.
Eckhaus finished 10-of-22 for 106 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 82 yards on 12 carries.
Mukendi posted 98 yards on 17 carries.
Cooper finished with two catches for 41 yards and Landon Ruggieri posted a pair of catches for 20 yards.
Zorrilla averaged 44.7 yards on three punts.
Joe Andreessen, Ryan Saddler and Ellis all finished with seven tackles.
Ellis, Hanks and Tyler Allen all intercepted passes.
Kenny Dyson Jr. posted his first sack of the year.
Bryant snapped a two-game skid against Sacred Heart.
Bryant has now allowed 24 or less points in 13 of its last 15 games dating back to 2019.
Bryant’s 255 rushing yards are its most since rushing for 266 at Howard in the final game of the 2018 season.
Eckhaus’s 82 yards rushing are the most by a quarterback in DI program history.
Mukendi posted a career-high 98 yards.
Hasselman and Reaves each scored their first-career touchdowns.
Ellis, Hanks and Allen all posted their first-career interceptions.
Bryant travels to Akron, Ohio, next Saturday for its first-ever game against an FBS member. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.