Football Defeats Host Nichols, 33-22

Oct. 25, 2008

DUDLEY, Mass. -- The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's football team scored twice within a minute and 11 seconds in the fourth quarter and came from behind to beat host Nichols, 33-22, in a New England Football Conference Boyd Division game at Michael J. Vendetti Field Saturday.

The Corsairs, who led, 13-0, after their first two possessions of the game had to rally after they fell behind, 22-19, when Bison quarterback Charles Samples ran 57 yards for a touchdown with 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter. UMass Dartmouth took possession at the Nichols 34-yard line after a personal foul penalty set the Bison back 15 yards, they were stopped and Josh Harris' punt went out of bounds. Senior running back J.T. Harold (North Andover, MA/ Austin Prep HS) ran 32 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and senior fullback Aaron Russo (Johnston, RI/Johnston HS) plunged over for the score that put the Corsairs back on top, 26-22.

Anthony Pillari returned the ensuing kickoff to the Nichols 31, but fumbled and the ball was recovered by UMD freshman defensive back Darrien Furr (Taunton, MA/Taunton HS). Harold carried twice for 11 yards and a first down, a personal foul penalty moved the ball half the distance to the NC 10, and Harold scored on the next play to make it 33-22 with 7:28 remaining. Nichols drove 53 yards in 14 plays behind backup quarterback Josh Roza (Seekonk, MA/Seekonk HS), but a fourth down pass fell incomplete, and UMass Dartmouth ran out the clock.

The Corsairs took the lead quickly. Senior quarterback Alex Garro (Mattapoisett, MA/Old Rochester Regional HS) kept the ball on the second play from scrimmage and ran 68 yards for a touchdown. Junior George Vasiliadis' (Worcester, MA/St. Peter-Marian HS) extra point made it 7-0.

Nichols then drove and was stopped on fourth down and a yard at their own 42. UMass Dartmouth covered the distance in six plays, with Harold's 26-yard run giving the Corsairs a first and goal at the NC three. Garro's touchdown from a yard out made it 13-0 after the extra point attempt failed.

The Bison got on the board on their next possession. Lawrence Scott returned the kickoff to the UMD 48 yard line, and a 15-yard penalty moved it to the Corsair 33. Samples hit Chris Vallee for 23 yards to the UMass Dartmouth 10, then connected with Langston Little for a 10-yard touchdown. Samples ran for the two-point conversion to make it 13-8.

A 38-yard pass from Garro to senior wide receiver John Henry (Tenafly, NJ/Tenafly HS) keyed the next drive, giving the Corsairs a first down and goal at the Nichols five-yard line. Russo scored from a yard out on third down. UMD went for two points after a penalty moved the ball up on the PAT attempt, but Garro's pass was incomplete.

Vasiliadis' 68-yard punt and a subsequent penalty pinned the Bison at their five yard line early in the second quarter. But Samples hit Pillari for 44 yards on the second play of the drive, and then hit Brandon Haddad for 48 yards and a touchdown to make it 19-14 after a two-point conversion try failed.

Nichols took the lead late in the third quarter. After recovering a fumble at their 35 yard line, they drove 65 yards in three plays, with Samples racing 57 yards for a score and connecting with Vallee for two points to make it 22-19 just before time expired in the third quarter, setting the stage for the Corsairs' fourth-quarter rally.

"It was a great game, and it's one of those wins where everyone is happy," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Mark Robichaud. "You have to give Nichols credit, they never gave up, and they were driving to score and bring it within four when we stopped them. We scored the first two times we had it, we struggled in the middle of the game, and in the fourth quarter, we were able to run the ball. Our offensive line stepped it up in the fourth quarter, and J.T. had a couple of runs where he broke several tackles. We had a lot of big plays on both sides of the ball."

Harold rushed 24 times for 168 yards for UMass Dartmouth, while Garro carried 12 times for 109 yards and completed six of 12 passes for 80 yards. Vasiliadis punted four times and averaged 54.2 yards. Samples rushed 11 times for 68 yards for Nichols, and completed seven of 19 passes for 168 yards. Pillari caught three passes for 75 yards.

Sophomore defensive back Ross O'Toole (Weymouth, MA/Weymouth HS) led the Corsairs with nine tackles, while freshman linebacker John Cordasco (Rockaway, NJ/Morris Knolls HS) added eight and each broke up a pass and had a tackle for lost yardage. Harris had 12 tackles for the bison, including seven solos, and also had a sack, a forced fumble, a blocked kick and four tackles for lost yardage.

The Corsairs improved to 5-3 and 3-2 in the Boyd Division with the victory, while the Bison dropped to 2-6 and 0-5 with the defeat. UMass Dartmouth will return to action when they visit Endicott next Saturday.