MIDDLETOWN, R.I. - Salve Regina sophomore Phil Terio (Trumbull, Conn.) intercepted a pass at his own seven yard line with just 15 seconds remaining to seal a thrilling 37-33 victory over visiting Curry College during New England Football Conference (NEFC) Boyd Division action at Gaudet Field on Saturday afternoon. The win extends the Seahawks' winning streak to 13 straight victories, marking the longest winning streak in all of Division III and the second longest in all of NCAA football, trailing only Harvard. Salve Regina improves to a perfect 7-0 on the year and 4-0 in the division, while the Colonels slip to 3-4 overall and 2-2 during Boyd Division play.
Terio had seven tackles, two pass breakups, an interception, and a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, marking his sixth score of the season. The Salve Regina offense totaled 478 yards, receiving a game-high 86 yards on the ground by sophomore Dan Buonocore(Mahwah, N.J.), while classmate Khari Halliburton (Manchester, N.H.) chipped in with 81 rushing yards of his own. Sophomores Matthew Traynor (Secaucus, N.J.) and Alex Hennessy (West Babylon, N.Y.) each had four recptions for the Seahawks, while seniorTrey Scales (Boston, Mass.) reeled-in two receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Steven Wilken (Ringwood, N.J.) finished the day 14-of-28 for 220 yards and one score.
In addition to Terio, the Salve Regina defense was led by senior Anthony Hannon (Orange, Calif.) who had a team-high 12 tackles, while sophomore Matt Conroy (Philadelphia, Pa.)made several big plays including an interception. Senior Greg Gosselin (Kingston, Mass.)and sophomore Rory McEntee (Wakefiled, R.I.) both recorded solo sacks in the win.
The Colonels were led by senior wide receiver Rob Bambini (Westwood, Mass.) who led all players with 13 catches, 192 receiving yards, and a pair of touchdown grabs, while junior Skubie Mageza (Revere, Mass.) finished with seven receptions for 67 yards and a score. Junior quarterback Kevin Fruwirth (Agawam, Mass.) completed 29-of-59 passes for 330 yards and three scores, but also threw three interceptions in the loss. The Colonels' ground game was paced by sophomore Jordan Shairs (Gloucester, Mass.) who had eight carries for 74 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, senior Jason Genece (Waltham, Mass.) recorded a team-best 12 tackles, while junior Sam Calley (Weymouth, Mass.) had 10 tackles and a sack. Junior Timothy O'Brien (East Sandwich, Mass.) made 2.5 tackles for a loss, while junior Nick Calvano (Norfolk, Mass.) recorded five tackles and returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown.
Off the opening kick, the Seahawks drove right down the field, picking up big chunks of yards on the ground to advance to the Curry 34 yard line.
However, the drive was haulted when the Colonels recovered a fumble on a muffed handoff, giving Curry the ball on their own 35.
After consecutive three-and-outs by both offenses, the Colonels took over at their own 41 and quickly went 59 yards on just two plays, including a 49-yard tuchdown pass to Bambini. SRU's Hayden Stanton (Wallingford, Conn.) blocked the ensuing extra point to keep the Curry lead at 6-0.
The Seahawks wasted no time in responding, as Terio returned the following kickoff 97 yards for the score to put the Seahawks on top, 7-6.
After senior Ryan Mannion (Danbury, Conn.) ended Curry's next drive with an interception at the Curry 34, the Seahawks received a 19-yard field goal by freshman Christian Clark(Williamsport, Pa.) to extend the lead to 10-6.
When the Seahawks defense held the Colonels to another three-and-out on their next possession, Salve Regina appeared poised to give themselves some breathing room. However, Calvano picked-off a third down screen pass and returned it 20 yards for the score to reclaim the lead for the Colonels. After Stanton blocked his second consecutive point after attempt, the Curry lead stood at 12-10.
The Curry defense forced the Seahawks to punt on their next possession, but when the punt glanced off the leg of the Colonels' return man, Salve Regina recovered the loose ball to set up their offense at the Curry 26. The Seahawks reponded with four consecutive runs, capped by an eight-yard scoring dash by Buonocore on the very first play of the second quarter to grab the lead, 17-12.
After several scoreless drives by both teams, the Seahawks were back in action when Conroy picked-off a pass at the Curry 30 yard line. Salve Regina took advantage of the turnover six plays later as Wilken hooked-up with Scales for a 16-yard touchdown pass, extending the SRU lead to 24-12.
It appeared that would be the halftime score when the Seahawks seemingly stopped Shairs short of a first down with under a minute to go in the second quarter. However, Shairs managed to stay on his feet while breaking several tackles and rumbling 17 yards for a first down. The Colonels found the endzone three plays later, receving a 38-yard grab by Mageza and a 13-yard touchdown reception by Bambini with just 17 seconds left in the half to send the two teams into the lockeroom with the Seahawks holding a 24-19 advantage.
The Colonels stormed out of the locker room to go 56 yards on just six plays on the opening possession of the third quarter, receiving a 13-yard touchdown run by Shairs to once again reclaim the lead, 26-24.
The back-and-forth battle continued as the Seahawks responded with a seven-play, 74-yard touchdown drive on their ensuing possession, including a 30-yard scamper by Wilken and a 13-yard touchdown run by senior Connor Kelly (Milford, Conn.) to snatch the lead back, 31-24.
On the following possession, the Colonels faced a fourth-and-10 from the SRU-33. Electing to go for it, Fruwirth found Bambini over the middle for a 32-yard gain down to the goal line. Fruwirth hooked-up with Mageza on the very next play, hitting the wide reciver by the pylon for the one-yard score to claim a 33-31 lead for the Colonels.
The Seahawks also faced a fourth-down situation on their next possession, looking at fourth-and-two from the Curry 47. Salve Regina brought out the punt team but ran a fake, however the Colonels were not fooled. Curry didn't even put a returner back on the play, stuffing the fake to take over possession on their own 47.
After driving to the Salve 42, a tough fourth-down decision once again presented itself, as the Colonels faced fourth-and-eight. After calling a time out to draw up a play, Fruwirth connected with a wide open Bambini on the sidelines, however, the Curry wide receiver went out just shy of the first down marker, turning the ball over on downs.
The Seahawks responded with a nine-play, 48-yard drive which took the two teams into the fourth quarter and ended in a missed 36-yard field goal that sailed just wide right.
After the Seahawk defense held on the following possession, Salve Regina put together their best drive of the day, going 84-yards on 11 plays for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Sophomore Kenneth Woods (Walpole, Mass.) capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run, and after the two-point conversion failed, the Seahawks led 37-33.
The Colonels had one last chance when they took over possession at their own 42 with just 3:13 remaining in the final quarter. The Colonels converted three third-down plays to drive down to the Salve 12 yard line with under 20 seconds remaining. That's when Terio picked off a second-and-10 pass at the seven yard line to seal the exciting 37-33 victory for the Seahawks.
The Colonels will return to action next Saturday when they host Nichols at 1 p.m., while the Seahawks hit the road to face MIT on Friday in a 7 p.m. contest.