Story and photo courtesy of Bentley Athletics
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Junior linebacker AC Carter (Marlborough, Mass./Marlborough HS) recovered an errant snap in the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown with 8:50 left, and senior Bobby Tarr (Byfield, Mass./Bishop Fenwick HS) rushed for two TDs while eclipsing 2,000 yards for his career, as Bentley University topped Southern Connecticut State, 24-14, in Northeast-10 Conference football Saturday afternoon at Jess Dow Field.
Carter’s recovery was part of a strong defensive effort for the Falcons as they limited Southern to only 11 first downs, 1 for 12 on third downs and 136 yards total offense.
Bentley improved to 7-2 overall and 6-2 in the NE-10 while Southern (2-6 NE-10) lost for the eighth time in ten games overall
Bentley held a 10-7 lead at the half following two lengthy drives to open the game and a stellar defensive effort that limited the Owls to five first downs and 86 yards total offense, 59 of which came on their only scoring drive.
The Falcons, on their first possession of the game, controlled the ball for 7:24 and ran 13 plays before settling for a 32-yard field goal by senior Will Lockwood (Menlo Park, Calif./Sacred Heart Prep).
Following a three-and-out by Southern, the Falcons regained the ball at their own 19 and used 11 plays to reach the goal line. Tarr finished as he went outside from the two for the touchdown and a 10-0 lead five seconds into the second.
Southern’s only successful drive of the opening half followed with a one-yard run by junior Vaughn Magee (Mastic Beach, N.Y.) finishing a 13-play, 59-yard drive. Magee surpassed 1,000 for the season and finished with 83 yards on 26 carries.
The Falcons missed out on an opportunity to extend their lead when quarterback Danny Guadagnoli (Framingham, Mass./Framingham HS) was picked off in the end zone on a first-and-goal pass from the one with 31 seconds left before the break.
Prior to Carter’s TD, the only points of the second half had been scored by Southern on a 20-yard drive. A very poor punt gave the Owls the ball on the Falcon 20, and three plays later, freshman QB Michael Eckrote (Wayne, N.J.) teamed up with junior Carlton Staggars (West Haven, Conn.) on an eight-yard TD pass for a 14-10 Southern lead with 3:25 left in the third.
With the Falcon offense still struggling, the defense kept the game close. A stop on a fourth-and-two from the Bentley 17 ended one Southern possession, and the next one saw Falcon senior DE Matt Campo (Dedham, Mass./Catholic Memorial HS) recover a bad snap near midfield. Two plays later, a fumble gave the ball back to the Owls, setting the stage for Carter’s heroics.
On a third down from the Southern 37, the snap from center sailed well over Eckrote’s head. It was knocked around by a few players before Carter fell on it in the end zone.
Bentley locked up the victory with 1:13 left when Tarr took it in from the three, finishing a six-play, 43-yard drive. Tarr gained 89 yards on 24 carries and became the seventh player in program history to reach 2,000 for a career, finishing the day with 2,010.
The Falcons’ final defensive stand of the afternoon came when sophomore Brad Keirstead (Waltham, Mass./Waltham HS) recorded his second interception of the year and returned it 48 yards to the SC 25 with 11 seconds left.
Guadagnoli powered the Bentley offense with 197 passing yards, although it was an up-and-down day for the junior. He completed 22 of 28 passes, a completion percentage of .786, but lost the ball twice, including the previously-mentioned interception. Senior Sean Cross (Duxbury, Mass./ Duxbury HS) was his favorite target, with nine catches for 82 yards.
Freshman linebacker Quincy Giles (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral HS) made his first career start and finished with a game-high nine tackles for the Falcons.
Bentley, which survived four turnovers and punts of five and two yards, finished with 326 yards of total offense and had nearly twice as many first downs as the Owls, 21-11.
Bentley will close out the season at home next Saturday, hosting Assumption College as part of Northeast-10 Championship Weekend.