Hawks Soar to a 3-0 Start

Jonathan Burkart, Crier Staff

The New Hampshire air is getting crisper; the days darker; and faint echoes of whistles can be heard from Grappone Stadium. It’s football season, Anselmians.

After three games, the Saint Anselm Hawks soar to a 3 – 0 record, chronicling their best start since the 2004 season. All three games concluded in spectacular style, with an impressive fourth quarter comeback and a seesaw overtime victory week two.

The Hawks football team opened their season in a dramatic fashion as they battled Bowie State University Bulldogs in Bowie, Maryland. The Hawks scored sixteen unanswered points in an incredible second half comeback, eking out a one-point victory with a 23-22 final score over the Bulldogs.

Quarterback Yianni Gavalas, a sophomore from Manhasset, New York, threw for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns to sophomore Zach Bartak and senior Ahkeen Williams. Gavalas out threw the Bulldogs quarterback and eighteen starting NFL quarterbacks, including Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. Elad Covaliu, the junior running back transfer from Holy Cross, rushed for 68 yards, including a three-yard touchdown dash.

The Hawks late game heroics were capped off with a game-winning, thirty-eight yard field goal from Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Football Special Teams Player of the Week Shane Grayson.

The junior from Ormund Beach, Florida is both the kicker and the punter for the Hawks. Grayson was named the Special Teams Player of the Week from the period of September first through the seventh. He booted his clinching field goal with 3:36 left in the fourth quarter, and the strong defense held out. Grayson also nabbed a school record after logging a seventy-yard punt. Grayson beat the previous record by eight feet, set in 2000 by Jeff Dandurand.

The Hawks took on the Southern Connecticut State University Owls in New Haven, Connecticut, in their week two matchup. Seeking to remain perfect on the road, the Hawks traded punches in a full-game slugfest that saw four lead changes. The Hawks first points came from some sleight of hand when wide receiver Justin Bernard threw a seventy-six yard pass on a trick play to fellow wide out Ahkeen Williams in the second quarter. Bernard also recorded fifty yards and a receiving touchdown of his own, while Williams churned out one hundred sixty-one yards on eight receptions.

The Owls fought back late in the fourth quarter, forcing an overtime after quarterback Ray Catapano scored on a three yard plunge. The Owls also drew first blood in extra time with a nineteen-yard field goal, leaving the Hawks with one last chance to win.

The Hawks faced some difficulty after a rush for a loss and two incomplete passes forced a daunting fourth and fifteen. The boys rose to the must-convert occasion when Gavalas connected with Ahkeen Williams on a twenty-one yard pass. This set up Elad Covaliu’s nine-yard, game-winning touchdown.

Covaliu felt “well prepared” for the overtime duel. “That’s what we practice for and prepare for everyday,” said number twenty-five. He explained the mentality Head Coach Patrick Murphy has instilled in all of his players. “We look at every week as a zero to zero situation.” By focusing on the present, the Hawks approach each game with a must-win attitude and fierce determination. Covaliu embodied this gritty spirit when he broke tackles on his way to the game-winner.

Covaliu humbly attributes his success to his teammates. “It’s great,” said the well-spoken junior recruit, “We have a really hard working team and coaches that care about winning.” Covaliu, who has rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns so far this season, credits the defense with “keeping us in the game” and stepping up when it mattered most.

The Hawks took on the Bentley University Falcons in their home opener in front of a capacity crowd at Grappone Stadium on Saturday September, 20. St. A’s was looking to improve to 3-0 for only the second time in school history. The Hawks defense was off to a flying start as senior defensive back Matt Yopp intercepted the first pass from Falcons quarterback Dan Guadagnoli. This allowed quarterback Yianni Gavalas and the Hawks offense to march down the field quickly and score on an 11yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Justin Bernard. After a successful PAT by Shane Grayson, the Hawks were up 7-0 only 2:21 into the game.

The Hawks defense played a very tough game early. They did not allow the Falcons offense any first downs in the first quarter and were able to keep Bentley off the scoreboard until they scored a touchdown with 10:00 left in the second quarter, tying the game at 7.The Hawks responded with a 73 yard drive that ended with a 20 yard field goal by Grayson, giving the Hawks a 10-7 lead. Bentley closed the half with a touchdown followed by a field goal making it a 17-10 game in favor of the Falcons.

The Hawks and the Falcons traded scores throughout the third quarter and at one point the game was tied at 24 all. Bentley began to pull away as they tacked on a field goal followed by a touchdown to end the third quarter up 10 with a score of 34-24. This set the Hawks up for yet another dramatic fourth quarter comeback. With less than 10 minutes left in regulation, the Hawks marched 86 yards down the field in 11 plays resulting in a three yard touchdown run by quarterback Yianni Gavalas. After a successful PAT by Grayson, the Hawks defense forced the Falcons offense to go three-and-out. Gavalas and the Hawks offense then took the ball for one last time to attempt yet another game winning drive. The offense faced a huge third and 10 on the Bentley 40 yard line when senior Brandon Gomes caught a 33 yard pass from Gavalas making it first and goal from the 7 yard line. This setup junior running back Elad Covaliu for a three yard touchdown run putting the Hawks ahead once and for all. The PAT by Grayson put the Hawks up by what would be a final score of 38-34. This was the first Saint Anselm has ever beaten Bentley.

The Saint A’s students provided a strong showing of support for the football team as most of the crowd stayed for the entirety of this very exciting game. As the scoreboard clock struck zero, a large number of students in attendance stormed the field and celebrated the victory with the team.

This coming Saturday, September 27, the Hawks look to improve to 4-0 for the first time in school history as they take on Pace University on Homecoming weekend at Saint Anselm. Be sure to show your school pride at Grappone Stadium at 1p.m. Go Hawks!