Football rally comes up short to Bison


LEICESTER, Mass. --- The Becker College football team lost 23-15 to visiting Nichols College on Saturday at Alumni Field on the Becker campus in Leicester.

October 13, 2018
Alumni Field, Leicester
Score: Nichols 23, Becker 15
Records: Nichols (4-3, 2-1 CCC Football) | Becker (0-6, 0-2 CCC Football)

• The Hawks won the coin toss and elected to receive to open the game, with Becker junior quarterback Jake McHugh (Lynnfield, Mass. / Lynnfield) rushing for a first down on second-and-long. That was the best as the home team could manage on their opening drive, however, as they were forced to punt with Nichols taking over near midfield.
• On the ensuing drive, it took the Bison just two plays for Nichols junior quarterback Michael Pina (Brockton, Mass. / Xaverian Brothers) to find freshman wide receiver Hunter Ferreira (Mansfield, Mass. / Mansfield) for a 31 yard touchdown pass off a play-action call. It was Ferreira's team-leading fourth touchdown reception of the season as Nichols took a 7-0 lead.
• On the very next play from scrimmage with the Hawks backed up on their own seven yard line, McHugh found freshman wide receiver Marc O'Neal (Dayton, Ohio / Archbishop Alter) over the middle for a 93 yard touchdown catch as Becker tied the game at 7-7. It was McHugh's second touchdown pass to O'Neal in as many weeks.
• On their ensuing drive, the Bison were hampered by two critical penalties were ultimately forced to punt as Becker sophomore defensive back Emilio Muniz (Meriden, Conn. / Francis T. Maloney) showed great coverage on a third-and-long pass from Pina to junior Tony Martignoli (Santa Rosa, Calif. / Santa Rosa). McHugh and the Hawks took over at their own 34 yard line.
• On Becker's next drive, the Hawks overcame three penalties to reach the Nichols' 41 then went for it on fourth-and-two. McHugh attempted to rush it on the option but was tackled for a loss by Nichols junior linebacker Christopher Lawrence (Newport, N.H. / Newport) as the Bison would take over on downs.
• Nichols' went three-and-out on their next drive, as Becker junior linebacker Christian Perkins (Melrose, Mass. / Melrose) recorded two tackles against sophomore running back Josh Pierre-Charles (Millis, Mass. / Millis). The Hawks took over at their own 20 after the punt.
• Becker turned to their running game on their next series, with sophomore running back Emeka Carranza (White Plains, N.Y. / Walter Panas) picking up a sorely needed first down. But the Hawks were forced to punt after reaching their own 30.
• Nichols drove down to the Hawks' 38 on their next drive, and Pina went back to pass on a third-and-seven. Becker senior linebacker Michael Bianco (Manorville, N.Y. / Eastport-South Manor) was all over him, however, sacking the quarterback for an eight-yard loss and forcing the punt. The Hawks would get the ball back at their own 23 as the first quarter came to an end.

• McHugh orchestrated one his best drives of the season to open the second, as the quarterback used the option as well as handoffs to Carranza and sophomore running back David Collins (Staten Island, N.Y. / Curtis) to drive 73 yards down the field. Facing a third-and-seven at the Nichols' 11 yard line, McHugh attempted to take it in himself. But Lawrence made a huge play for the Bison, coming up from behind, forcing the fumble and recovering it himself as Nichols took over at their own four yard line. It was the fourth fumble of the season for McHugh.
• Nichols went three-and-out on their subsequent drive, with the punt recovered by Becker at the Bison 47.
• Becker sophomore quarterback Alpha Barry (Staten Island, N.Y. / Curtis) took over under center for the Hawks with excellent field position, rushing it five times on the drive. But he was forced to scramble after reaching the Nichols 36, taking a 13 yard loss as Lawrence forced his second fumble of the day. It was all Barry could do to recover the fumble as the Hawks were forced to punt.
• Getting the ball back with the clock winding down, Pina was sacked three times by a motivated Becker defense. Facing a third down from their own 41, Pina launched a pass towards Martignoli on the Becker sideline. But Becker freshman defensive back Materrence Holloway (Tampa, Fla. / Hillsborough) broke up the pass, then tackled the rusher on fourth down to give Becker the ball back with three seconds left at the Nichols 38. The consequent 'hail mary' play was knocked down, and the half ended tied at 7-7.

• Nichols received to open the second half, and after a short Becker kick, Nichols senior running back Jacob Duffrene (Boston, Mass. / Saint Anselm College) returned it 18 yards to the Becker 48. A 20 yard completion from Pina to senior wide receiver Shayne Crayton (Leominster, Mass. / Leominster) gave the Bison a first down at the Becker 11 yard line. But the Hawk defense hardened to keep Nichols out of the end zone, a stand capped off with a key tackle by Becker senior linebacker Joseph Linnehan (Dedham, Mass. / Dedham) on a third down rush as Becker held Nichols to a 17 yard field goal from freshman kicker Daniel Espinosa (Tamarac, Fla. / North Broward Prep) as the Bison took a 10-7 lead.
• On the next drive, Barry guided Becker into Nichols territory, as they went 40 yards in eight plays. But on fourth down the sophomore was picked off by Nichols senior linebacker McCoy Scott (Bronx, N.Y. / Cardinal Hayes) for a pick six as the senior returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. The Bison took a 16-7 lead after a fumble by the holder on the extra-point attempt.
• After Becker went three and out on their next drive, Nichols took over from their own 32. After a sack on second down by Bianco and Perkins, the Bison very nearly picked up the first down on a completion to Pierre-Charles on third down. But Linnehan made the tackle to stop him short, as Nichols punted it away.
• Taking over at their own 18, Becker could only manage one first down off a 15 yard rush by Carranza. Nichols freshman linebacker Joe Cox (Mansfield, Mass. / Mansfield) stuffed Carranza for a loss two plays later and Becker punted for the fifth time in the game.
• Nichols drove to the Hawk 28 yard line before Becker senior defensive lineman Brandon Mole (Bovina, N.Y. / Delaware Acad.) exploded into the Bison backfield and sacked Pina on fourth down, giving Becker the ball back to close out the third quarter. It was the first full-sack of the season for Mole.

• On the next series, it was the Bison coming up with a key sack, as Nichols senior transfer defensive end Charles Wade (Bridgeport, Conn. / Mount Ida) dropped Barry on third down to force another punt.
• On the first drive from scrimmage at their own 30, the Nichols once again turned to Duffrene who exploded down the field for a 66 yard rush. On the very next play, Pina found Ferreira for a four-yard touchdown reception as the Bison went ahead 23-7.
• With the game on the line and needing two touchdowns with two two-point conversions to tie it up, Becker went 55 yards down the field in seven plays as Barry found O'Neal on a short pass and the rookie turned blew through the Nichols secondary for a 22 yard touchdown reception, his second of the day. The Hawks handed off to Carranza for the two-point conversion and he delivered, pulling Becker to within eight at 23-15.
• Nichols face a third-and-one with just over two minutes to go with a chance to ice the game. Pina took it and ran left to the outside for 13 yards, securing the win as the Bison went into the victory formation.

• Becker had a 357-305 advantage in total yards, and a 176-165 edge in rushing.
• Third down efficiency proved critical as the Bison went for 40 percent (6 of 15) while the Hawks managed just 21 percent (3 of 14).
• Pina threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns on the day, completing 11 of 19 passes. The junior was also credited for 17 rushing attempts with a net gain of four.
• Duffrene rushed for 140 yards on the day for the Bison off 14 carries, to go along with one reception for 25 yards.
• Ferreira led all receivers with four catches on the day, totaling 51 yards with two touchdowns.
• McHugh played only the first half, finishing the day by going four-of-eight on his passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 46 yards on seven attempts.
• O'Neal caught three passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
• Carranza rushed for a career-best 67 yards on the day to lead the Hawks, working off ten carries. Collins went for 56 yards off 12 carries.
• The Becker defense sacked Pina seven times on the day, totaling 32 yards. Those are the most sacks by the Hawks in a single game since October 31st, 2015 against Gallaudet University, and tied for the third-most in school history.
• Bianco, the 2017 CCC Football Defensive Player of the Year, finished the day with a game-high 12 total tackles for the Hawks with two sacks.
• Holloway totaled seven total tackles with two pass breakups and one tackle for a loss.
• Lawrence led Nichols with ten total tackles.
• McHugh's 93 yard touchdown pass to O'Neal in the first quarter was the longest pass by a Becker quarterback since Robert Baker completed a 94 yard pass to Luis Sanchez during a game against Husson University on September 29th, 2012.
• Time of Possession: Becker (32:05), Nichols (27:55)

The Hawks are back in action next Saturday when they host Endicott College in a 12:00 p.m. game. The Bison have a bye next week, but they'll be back on the field on Saturday, October 27th when they host Western New England University at 12:00 p.m.

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