Story and photo courtesy of Bryant Athletics
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Junior Jordan Harris (Lincoln University, Pa.) hauled in three passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bryant University football team to its third consecutive victory, 34-14, over Sacred Heart Saturday afternoon on Senior Day at Bulldog Stadium.
The Bulldogs (3-6, 3-4 NEC) jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first half and withheld a second-half push from the Pioneers (2-7, 1-5 NEC) to claim their third-straight victory after starting the season 0-6. The Black and Gold also honored their 24-member senior class prior to the game with the Pioneers.
Already Bryant's all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdown receptions, Harris became the program leader in career receptions with 114 on Saturday afternoon. His first set the table for the entire game. A sack and a tackle for a loss put the Bulldogs in third-and-20 on their first possession of the game but junior quarterback Mike Westerhaus (Farmingville, N.Y.) found Harris in double coverage and Harris was able to escape the defenders and race 74 yards for a touchdown.
The big play would be the first of four on the afternoon that the Bulldogs scored on. Still leading 7-0 in the second quarter, freshman Charles Wingate (Englewood, N.J.) picked off a Luke Wischnowski pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown. It was the first career interception and touchdown for the rookie Wingate.
Bryant's defense followed with another strong series, forcing a three-and-out. The offense then capitalized, needing just one play to get back into the endzone. On first down, Harris ran a perfect route to get wide open and Westerhaus hit him in stride for a 52-yard score to make it 21-0. The Bulldogs capped their first-half scoring on their next drive as freshman Dom Kozlowski finished a six-play drive with a 21-yard field goal, giving Bryant a 24-0 lead at the half.
The second half was a much different story, however, as Sacred Heart turned up the defensive pressure and was able to put the ball in the endzone. The Pioneers limited the Bulldogs to just 39 yards of total offense in the third quarter instantly made it a game with a score on their first possession. After a facemask against the Bulldogs nullified a fumble on the opening kickoff of the half, SHU needed just four plays to get on the board. Three consecutive rushes were followed by a perfectly placed pass to Tim Goodwin who outran a linebacker for a 53-yard score.
The teams then traded scores to start the fourth quarter. Westerhaus hit senior Jimmie Johnson (Washington, D.C.) for 39 yards to put the ball at the SHU 25 and then connected with senior Matt Roncaioli (Southington, Conn.) for 22 yards on a third-and-17 to move the ball inside the 10. Four plays later, Kozlowski knocked down a 24-yard field goal attempt to make it 27-7.
Sacred Heart answered on its very next drive, going 73 yards in just seven plays. Wischnowski completed four consecutive passes, three to Tyler Dube, to get the ball into Bryant territory and a roughing the passer moved the ball to the 12. Two players later, he hit Dube again, this time in the corner of the endzone for a touchdown.
Bryant's defense held on the next Pioneer drive thanks to a big 10-yard sack from sophomore Maduka Nwanekezi (Milton, Mass.) and the Bulldog offense put the game away on its next possession. Senior running back Jordan Brown (Glastonbury, Conn.) carried the ball four consecutive times, including a huge two-yard run on fourth-and-one, to start the drive and sophomore Ricardo McCray (Middletown, R.I.) finished the drive with a 57-yard scamper. It was his second touchdown run of the season. Bryant iced the game on the very next play as freshman Brandon Dagnesses (Miami, Fla.) intercepted a pass for the second time in as many weeks.
Harris has now caught a program record 12 touchdown passes this season and is tied with Justin Kix for the most catches in a single season with 46. Westerhaus finished 11-of-22 for 251 yards and two scores and Brown finished with 88 yards on 23 carries in his final game at Bulldog Stadium. Defensively, the Black and Gold picked up a season-high four sacks on the afternoon. Nwanekezi had one, junior Connor McNamara (Sandy Hook, Conn.) had a pair and sophomore Jeff Covitz (Reading, Mass.) also added one. Jeremy Woodson (Houston, Texas) led the team with 11 tackles and also picked up his second interception of the season. The Bulldogs have now registered six interceptions in the last three weeks after totaling just two through the first six weeks.
Along with Brown, Johnson and Roncaioli, the Bulldogs also honored Eloma Johnson, Chris Willadsen, Adam Novak, Ryan Schermerhorn, Mike Bennett, Elliott Sulkis, Alex Damore, Joe Foderaro, Matt Lentz, Ben Zats, Patrick Armenti, Mark Hinkley, Andrew Barrett, Shavoy Lawrence, Brendan Murphy, Danny Basil, Issac Whitworth, Colin Sullivan, Jordan Kelly, Trevor Adkins and Zak Adamopolous.
Bryant will now head on the road for its final two games of the year, beginning with a trip to New Britain, Conn., next Saturday, Nov. 10 to face Central Connecticut. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.