Mass. College Football: Bentley 17, Mercyhurst 16 (RECAP)

Bentley began their 2013 season with an impressive win against Mercyhurst! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)

Bentley began their 2013 season with an impressive win against Mercyhurst! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)

By Brian Willwerth 

WALTHAM, MA – This was a terrific season opener between two good teams, in which special teams played a major role in the outcome.

Bentley University defeated Mercyhurst University on Saturday afternoon, 17-16.  The game featured a blocked field goal, a perfectly executed fake field goal attempt, and a difference making missed extra point.

“We knew coming in that we were going to be in a very tough dogfight,” said Bentley Head Coach Thom Boerman. “We said special teams were probably going to be a huge factor, and they were.”

The Lakers, out of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC,) drew first blood on their opening possession. They marched it 52 yards in seven plays, and Anthony Vendemia capped it off with a six-yard TD pass to Jeff Groene. After Bentley kicker Michael Baron had a 39-yard FG attempt partially blocked, he redeemed himself with a 27-yarder in the second quarter to make it 7-3.

The Falcons took a 10-7 lead when Danny Guadagnoli threw an 18-yard TD pass to Jet Kollie on 4th and 5. But Mercyhurst would re-take the lead just before the intermission. After the Lakers executed a fake field goal to set up a first-and-goal, Brandon Brown-Dukes ran it in from three yards out. But Jordan Spangler’s extra point attempt was no good, so the margin at halftime was just three. That missed PAT would turn out to be huge.

In the third quarter, Spangler nailed one from 31 yards out to give his team a six-point lead, but Bentley answered later in the quarter with an eight-play, 72-yard drive. Kollie’s second TD of the game – this time on the ground – gave the Falcons a one-point advantage.

The Bentley defense took over from there.  After allowing the field goal at the start of the third quarter, the Falcons did not allow any more points the rest of the way. The Lakers got one final possession with 1:22 remaining, but were unable to cross midfield and were stopped on 4th and 2.

“We were banged up, so I wasn’t certain what was going to happen,” said Boerman. “You don’t know who’s going to step up, but they did, the entire unit.  Coach (Rusty) McKinney did a great job. (They) dominated the second half.”

Guadagnoli finished 20-of-28 for 162 yards with one TD and one INT. Vendemia threw for 207 yards. Mercyhurst also held the advantage in rushing yards (163-137). But at the end of the day, it was the special teams that made the difference.

“We’ve been playing out of conference opponents for a number of years now,” said Boerman.  “But you’ve got to start beating those teams We’re getting a win against a quality opponent that I think, again, can just validate the Northeast-10 as much as Bentley University.”

Bentley will host Assumption on Friday night.

Mass. College Football: The View From Bentley University

By NoontimeSports.com 

The 2013 season is just days away, and Bentley University is hoping it will end with a Northeast-10 Championship.

On Tuesday morning, Noontime Sports’ Brian Willwerth caught up with Head Coach Thom Boerman to get his thoughts on the upcoming season.

Boerman says most of his offensive skill players return from last year’s 8-2 team, whose only two losses came by a combined eight points. Once again this year, quarterback Danny Guadagnoli will be under center. Boerman says he’s looked very strong in practice. The senior captain from Framingham is coming off an outstanding year in which he completed almost 62 percent of his passes, 16 of them for touchdowns. His pass efficiency rating of 150.26 was second in the conference and 25th nationally. The Falcons’ offense averaged over 26 points per game.

Defensively, Boerman will be looking for guys to step up, now that Steve and Don Hopkins have graduated. The coach says two players to keep an eye on this season are both captains: linebacker Blaine Hopwood, who led the team in tackles in each of the last two seasons, and defensive end Matt Campo, who was named the team’s Co-Defensive Most Improved Player in 2012.

Boerman expects the NE-10 to be extremely competitive again this year, saying there’s a lot of parity in the league. The Falcons are picked to finish third in the preseason coaches’ poll, behind New Haven and American International, the two teams Bentley lost to in 2012.

The Falcons will kick off the regular season on Saturday against Mercyhurst, a team that went 9-2 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) last year.

Mass. College Football: Bentley’s Halloran Invited To Patriots’ Rookie Mini Camp

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Bentley University sports information department, here’s this afternoon’s release about Nick Halloran, who was invited to the New England Patriots’ Rookie Mini Camp this weekend:

WALTHAM, Mass. – Former Bentley University offensive lineman Nick Halloran (Somerville/ Buckingham, Browne & Nichols) has been invited to participate in the New England Patriots’ Rookie Mini Camp this weekend.

Halloran, a six-foot-four, 302-pounder, started at tackle for Bentley the last three years after beginning his career at Boston College. He moved to the left side this past season after playing right tackle his first two years at Bentley.

Halloran earned first-team All-Northeast-10 honors in both 2011 and 2012, and was named to the 2012 Don Hansen Football Gazette Division II All-Super Region 1 team.  He was also a Football GazetteDivision II honorable mention All-America.

In 2012, Halloran helped the Bentley offense produce 388 yards and 26.3 points a game while controlling the ball for an average of 33 minutes.

“I was obviously very happy when Nick transferred from Boston College to play tackle for us,” said Bentley football coach Thom Boerman. “He has been a dominate lineman in the NE-10 since the day he arrived and he has played both right and left tackle to protect our QB’s blind side.  He has pro size, is very smart and is strong. Nick had quite a bit of interest from a number of NFL teams and I am glad that the Patriots invited a local player to their mini-camp. He has been working hard to prepare for this opportunity.”

Bentley has one player currently in the NFL, Dallas Cowboys’ offensive lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau. He started every game for the Cowboys during the 2012 season, his fifth year in the league. 

Mass. College Football: Bentley 38, Merrimack 21

Bentley University’s football team celebrated its Homecoming Weekend with a victory against rival Merrimack College on Saturday! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)

By Brian Willwerth 

WALTHAM, MA – After back-to-back losses to the top two teams in the Northeast-10 Conference, Bentley University bounced back in a big way on Saturday.

Behind an impressive defensive effort, and an outstanding performance from quarterback Danny Guadagnoli, the Falcons dominated Merrimack, 38-21, in front of a Homecoming Weekend crowd of 3,491.

The junior quarterback from Framingham did it with his arm, and his legs. He threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 76 yards and two more scores on the ground. He was the Falcons’ leading rusher on the day.

“He really showed me some maturity today,” said Bentley head coach Thom Boerman, whose team improved to 6-2 on the year. “He ran when he needed to run, and he put the ball where it needed to be put [it and] I’m very, very proud of him.”

In the first quarter, Guadagnoli capped off an 11-play, 68-yard drive with a 14-yard scamper. Guadagnoli kept that drive alive with a completion on 4th-and-5. On the ensuing Merrimack possession, the Warriors marched down the field and had 1st-and-goal at the Falcons’ 4. But Bentley’s defense stiffened, and kept Merrimack off the scoreboard.

After a field goal by Will Lockwood put the Falcons up by 10, Merrimack got on the board. Joe Clancy threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Voegeli. The 2-point conversion failed. Clancy, who broke many conference records in last week’s 81-point outburst against Saint Anselm, threw for 321 yards against Bentley, but was picked off three times.

Bentley delivered the equivalent of a knockout punch late in the first half with two touchdowns in less than a minute. Guadagnoli’s second rushing touchdown of the game made it 17-6. Then, following a Steve Hopkins interception, Bentley found the end zone again on Lorenzo Warren’s one-yard run. It was 24-6 at halftime, and the Warriors never got the deficit under double-digits the rest of the way.

Guadagnoli had two favorite targets on this day. Jeff Hill caught eight passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, while Sean Cross also broke the 100-yard plateau (107.)

Merrimack, which was coming off an 81-point performance last week, came into this game averaging 40 points a game, and led the conference in total yards per game. But the Falcons’ defense limited the Warriors to 21 points, and 370 total yards – far below the 534 Merrimack had been averaging.

“Coach Boyle [defensive coordinator Scott Boyle] did a tremendous job preparing his people,” said Boerman. “When we scored early, that forced them [Merrimack] out a little of what they wanted to do.”

Bentley travels to Southern Connecticut State next weekend, while Merrimack returns home to take on Assumption College.

Mass. College Football Game Summary: Bentley 42, Pace 0

By Matt Noonan 

WALTHAM, MA – After earning their first victory of the season, Bentley University head coach Thom Boerman explained that his team has a lot to work on, especially after just one contest.

“I’m glad we won, but none of these players should feel real good about themselves just yet,” Boerman said after his team’s 42-0 triumph against Pace University on Friday.

The Falcons offense compiled 562 yard of total offense, while their defense sacked the Setters junior signal-caller Jordan Raynor six times.

Senior Bill Kiley and sophomore Jeff Hill each caught two touchdowns, as well as combined for 217 yards, while fifth-year senior Bobby Tarr rushed for 95 yards on 13 carries and registered one score.

Tarr also became the program’s ninth all-time leading rusher after he ripped off an impressive 33-yard dash during the team’s third offensive series of the game.

Pace won the toss, but concluded their first offensive series with three unsuccessful plays, which opened the door for Bentley’s offense to earn the momentum for good, as the Falcons concluded a nine-play, 79-yard drive with a nine yard strike from junior Danny Guadagnoli to Kiley.

The Falcons would then solidify their lead with five more touchdowns, which helped them secure their first conference win.

Senior Luke Zahradka completed three of six passes for 103 yards, as well as connected with Hill and Kiley for scores, while sophomore Tyler Coppola capped off his Falcons debut with nine carries for 28 yards and one touchdown.

“We have a lot of work to do,” exclaimed Boerman. “We made a lot of mistakes.”

“I thought defensively we kind of bogged down, they marched up and down the field, they made a couple mistakes of their own [because] they’re young, but we’ve got a long way to go,” added Boerman. “West Virginia Wesleyan is going to be a very tough opponent, so we’ll watch the film, [the] coaches will make their corrections, but we’re not there yet.”