Courtesy of Bentley Athletics
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- Senior tailback Everette Benjamin rushed for 132 yards and scored two touchdowns as Central Connecticut State scored the gameâ€™s final 38 points en route to a 45-14 victory over Bentley University in non-conference college football Saturday afternoon at Arute Field.
Bentley, 0-2 for just the second time in the programâ€™s history, controlled the ball for nearly 11 minutes in the first quarter and scored a pair of touchdowns in the first 88 seconds of the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead over the Division I Blue Devils.
However, Central Connecticut countered on its next possession, with a 13-yard pass from junior Gunnar Jesperson (Atascadero, Calif.) to junior Paul DeBenedittis (Bronx, N.Y.) capping a 13-play, 72-yard drive that evened the game at 14 apiece.
Central broke the logjam in the waning moments of the second quarter, with 10 points in the final 80 seconds putting the home team up 24-14 at the break. A two-yard run by junior Nate Pagan Newington, Conn.), the final play of an 11-play, 80-yard drive, gave the Blue Devils the lead, and Central quickly regained the ball on an interception by freshman Chris Linares (New Britain, Conn.) on the Falconsâ€™ first play after falling behind.
The first of three picks thrown by Bentley senior Bryant Johnson (Hopedale, Mass./Milford HS) led to a 30-yard field goal by senior Joe Izzo (Southington, Conn.) with four seconds left on the first-half clock and sent the Falcons into the half down ten.
Bentley managed only one first down in the third quarter, and Central Connecticut took advantage of an interception and a blocked punt to break the game open, 38-14. Benjamin scored both touchdowns for the Blue Devils in the quarter, a two-yard run with 4:42 left and a 23-yard pass from Jesperson with 2:52 remaining.
Down 7-0 after Central Connecticut scored on its first possession of the game, Bentley held the ball for the final 6:40 of the opening quarter, moving from its own 72 to the Central 2. After switching ends, sophomore running back Jack Pizzotti (Melrose, Mass./Melrose HS) scored on the opening play of the second quarter and junior Paul Branco (Brockton, Mass./Brockton HS) added the point-after to even the game at 7-7.
Junior linebacker Matt Welch (Woburn/Woburn HS) recovered a CCSU fumble 14 seconds later and Bentley had the ball back at the Central 25. It took just three plays for the Falcons to capitalize with Johnson connecting with senior Kyle Tuthill (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) on a go-ahead six-yard scoring pass.
Senior linebacker Mark Dolan (Barrington, R.I./Barrington HS) made a career-best 18 tackles for Bentley, and classmate Greg Oâ€™Brien (Canton, Mass./Xaverian Bros. HS) followed with a dozen. Juniors Steve Hopkins (Waltham, Mass./Waltham HS) and Don Hopkins (Waltham, Mass./Waltham HS) each were in on 10 stops, with Steve also recovering a fumble.
Benjamin gained his 132 yards on 24 carries, and also had three catches for 28 yards. Jesperson finished 18 of 24 passing, for 181 yards and two scores.
Johnson, after a strong start, finished 16 of 32 for 117 yards, with Malone leading eight Falcon receivers with five catches for 49 yards.
Central Connecticut, 1-1 this season after posting a 9-3 record a year ago, amassed 525 yards in total offense and 32 first downs while Bentley was limited to 207 yards and 16 first downs. Of Bentleyâ€™s total, 106 yards and nine first downs came in the opening 17 minutes of the game.
Bentley will play its third straight road game next Saturday, a 1 pm encounter at Saint Anselm College in the teamâ€™s Northeast-10 Conference opener.