Offensive woes against Assumption leave football 0-3
Sam Tapper — Sports Writer
Despite another strong outing from their defense, the Owl’s offense fell short as the football team lost 19-7 to the Assumption Greyhounds in the opener of NE10 play.
For the third straight game, the Owls’ offense was held to zero points in the first half. The same could not be said for Assumption, as they opened up the scoring less than four minutes in, on a touchdown pass from their quarterback, junior Easton Turner, though they would miss the PAT.
Assumption was not done there, as they would extend a 6-0 first quarter lead out to a 13-0 lead at halftime, thanks to an eight-yard run by backup running back Berrell Neal, a freshman. Though it was his first game this year without a touchdown, senior running back Doug Santos would lead the Greyhounds’ charge, finishing with 190 rushing yards on 20 carries.
“Doug’s a great running back; Doug’s a great football player,” said Owls’ head coach Tom Godek. “He was in the recruiting mix for a lot of the NE 10 schools. He runs hard, he’s hard to tackle, he’s elusive and he’s just a great running back.”
For the Owls, the game would be filled with the good, the bad and the ugly. On the positive side, they once again saw a strong outing from redshirt freshman running back John michael Bivona, as the rookie finished with 89 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Senior quarterback Matt Sanzaro also had his most statistically appealing game of the year, going 11-21 with 134 yards and a touchdown pass, but more importantly, Sanzaro would not throw an interception, something he did five times through two games.
Statistics on the offensive end, the Owls had their chances but could not convert. Southern was able to put together multiple promising drives, including one with a 45-yard run from Bivona in the second quarter – the longest run for him and his team on the year. However, the Owls turned the ball over on three separate occasions with two fumbles from Sanzaro and a fumble on the goal line from Bivona.
“We’ve got to execute in the redzone,” Bivona said after the game. “We get down there, we have great drives and then we get down there and it’s mental mistakes; it’s turnovers and it’s drive-killers, and we’ve got to clean that stuff up – so we’ll do that in the film room and in practice next week.”
Sanzaro was forced to use his legs and be quick on his feet on just about every play.
The Owls’ QB barely put the ball in the air in the first half, as he was just 5-10 passing at the break. Each snap he took undercenter, the pocket collapsed within a matter of seconds, forcing Sanzaro to either scramble or ultimately be sacked. He was sacked eight times on the night.
“We’re going to go back and look at it as always,” said Godek. “It’s not always the line, if it is, we’re going to work hard in that department this week, but they’ve got some excellent defensive linemen, some really good schemes there tonight, we just need to find ourselves offensively.”
After the game, Godek said that his defense was once again “really really good” as they never allowed Assumption to score more than once in a quarter. Sophomore linebacker Rich Souffrant would finish with a 13- yard sack and three total tackles. Redshirt-senior free safety Kyle Armour would lead the Owls on defense with nine total tackles, including six solo tackles.
“We’re always talking about coming back from adversity,” Armour said, postgame. “We’re going to get the ball in bad spots, so we’ve got to just do our jobs, try and give the ball back to the offense and just go 100 percent every play.”
With the loss, the Owls fell to 0-3 on the season and 0-1 in NE10 play. Their next game will be on Saturday, Sept. 28 in Springfield Mass., against AIC. Their next home game comes the following week against Franklin Pierce.
“Right now, we’ve got to get ready for American International,” said Godek. “That’s always been a physical game; it’s the longest running rivalry in the history of Southern football and it’s always a good football game.”
Photo credit: Will Aliou