Courtesy of Bryant Athletics
SMITHFIELD, R.I. â€“ Last week in the win over Fordham, the Bryant University offense was in high gear. In Saturdayâ€™s win over Saint Anselm, it was the teamâ€™s defense that came through when it needed as the Bulldogs improve to 2-0 to start the season.
In the tenth meeting all-time between the two programs, the Bulldogs picked up where they left off last week with the defense forcing a quick three-and-out by the Saint Anselm (0-2) on their first possession of the game. A 31-yard punt gave the Bulldogs good field position near midfield to begin.
The Bulldogs marched downfield to the Saint Anselm 14-yard line, but a false start penalty backed the Bulldogs up to the Hawks 19. But on the very next play, standout sophomore Jordan Brown (Glastonbury, Conn.) fought off a few tacklers and broke through for a 19-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 7-0.
Brown, last weekâ€™s Northeast Conference Special Teams Player of the Week and New England Gold Helmet award recipient for his four touchdown performance against the Rams a week ago, had another sold day offensively with 118 yards rushing on the ground on seven carries and three touchdowns.
Leading 7-0 after one, Bryantâ€™s defense started to set the tone and helped give the Bulldogs a little more cushion. Junior cornerback Samad Wagstaff (New Rochelle, N.Y.) had a big day along with the rest of the defense. On Saint Anselmâ€™s first drive of the second quarter, Wagstaff stepped in front of a Michael Pierce pass attempt for the first of his two interceptions on the day. Wagstaff returned it 23 yards down to the Saint Anselm 2 yard line.
One play later, senior Mike Canfora (Verona, N.J.) lunged into the end zone to make it 14-0 following the extra point conversion.
Later in the quarter with the first half clock winding down, the Bulldogs were threatening once again deep in Saint Anselm territory, but came away empty handed when Colantonio picked off a Mike Croce (Waterbury, Conn.) pass in the end zone for a touchback.
But the Hawksâ€™ ensuing drive would stall as Bryantâ€™s defense rose to the challenge. Addison Lynch (Braintree, Mass.) and Jordan Kelly (Canton, Mass.) helped force the Hawks to punt on three plays once again. But this time, linebacker Franck Tebou (Mattapoisett, Mass.) blocked Shea Cerioâ€™s punt attempt and recovered the ball himself on the Hawksâ€™ 2-yard line. Two plays later, Brown added his second touchdown of the game to make it 21-0.
Wagstaff wasnâ€™t through just yet as the sophomore once again picked off another Pierce pass attempt but this time returning it all the way himself, 53 yards for the touchdown to make it 27-0.
Leading 27-7 at the half, the Bulldogs got a 22-yard field goal from Chris Bird (Monument Beach, Mass.) plus a pair of touchdown runs by Brown and Canfora to stretch the lead to 44-7.
The Bulldogs held Saint Anselm to 92 yards rushing on the day and forced three turnovers.
Senior linebacker Jason Riffe (Newton, Mass.) led the way with eight tackles while Wagstaff finished with six and defensive back teammate Tyler Carter (Baltimore, Md.) added five tackles plus an interception in the third quarter that would lead to Canforaâ€™s touchdown.
Bryant will host Merrimack College next weekend at 1 p.m.