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Defense Sparks Comeback as Golden Bears Rally to Defeat Husson on Homecoming Weekend, 21-14

Sophomore tight end Josh Henry's 28-yard touchdown reception with less than a minute remaining capped Western New England's 21-14, comeback victory over Husson University on Saturday. (Photo by Bryan Hewitt)
Sophomore tight end Josh Henry's 28-yard touchdown reception with less than a minute remaining capped Western New England's 21-14, comeback victory over Husson University on Saturday. (Photo by Bryan Hewitt)

Western New England scores 21 unanswered points over final 19 minutes of regulation

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (September 23, 2017) – A momentum-swinging takeaway late in the third quarter sparked the Western New England University football team to a 21-14, comeback victory over Husson University on Saturday afternoon in non-conference action at Golden Bear Stadium.   

Top Performers
• Senior safety Sam Olsson (Milford, Conn.) recorded nine tackles (seven solo) and helped fuel Western New England's second half rally with a forced fumble and an interception.
• Junior Kurtis Jolicoeur (Windham, N.H.) finished with a game-high 13 tackles (seven solo, 1.5 for loss, one sack) and one pass breakup.
• Freshman cornerback Zhaire House (Greenwich, Conn.) turned the momentum in the contest late in the third quarter, recovering a fumble deep in Western New England territory and returning the ball 94 yards. He also contributed four tackles and a pair of pass breakups.
• Senior quarterback Anthony Service (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) found sophomore tight end Josh Henry (Wilbraham, Mass.) for the go-ahead 28-yard touchdown in the final minute of regulation.  

• Husson senior running back John Smith (Fayetteville, Ga.) carried the ball 32 times for 128 yards.
• Junior quarterback Cory Brandon (Pembroke, Mass.) completed 20-of-36 pass attempts for 216 yards and one touchdown.
• Senior defensive back Jean Gabriel (Lake Worth, Fla.) and freshman defensive lineman Frank Curran (Portland, Maine) finished with seven tackles each for the Eagles.

Game Review
• After a scoreless opening quarter, Husson struck for the game's first touchdown at the 9:30 mark of the second. Brandon completed a 39-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Kyree Calli (Harrisburg, Pa.), who was brought down at the Western New England 13-yard line. Six plays later, Brandon found freshman tight end Aidan Hogan (Morgan, Vt.) for a four-yard touchdown on third and goal.
• The Eagles went up 14-0 less than two minutes later, as Western New England's ensuing possession ended in a fumble and senior Robensen Saintard (Port Charlotte, Fla.) ran for a 55-yard touchdown on the first play of Husson's drive.
• The Golden Bears were unable to get anything going offensively for the remainder of the half as the visitors held a two-touchdown lead at the break.
• Midway through the third quarter, Husson put together a seven-play, 77-yard drive that saw the Eagles drive all the way to the Western New England five-yard line with an opportunity to claim a 21-0 advantage. On second down, Smith took a handoff in the backfield, cut left and barreled into Olsson at the two, where he had the ball stripped out of his hands. House pounced on the loose ball and raced 94 yards down the sideline before being brought down at the Husson six. Sophomore wing Jamyre Soberanis (Dorchester, Mass.) took a handoff up the middle for a touchdown on the very next play as the Golden Bears cut their deficit to 14-7.
• The Western New England defense forced a three-and-out on Husson's next possession, and a 19-yard punt gave the Golden Bears the ball back near midfield. Service completed a 27-yard pass to senior wide receiver Mark Dietrich (Cheshire, Conn.) on the first play of the drive, and six plays later senior Dante Aiken (Brooklyn, N.Y.) found the end zone on a seven-yard rush to the outside to tie the score at 14-14.
• The Golden Bear defense continued to excel in the late stages of the game, forcing another Husson three-and-out early in the fourth quarter. Olsson then came through with another big play with 6:17 left in the contest, intercepting Brandon on third-and-six from the Western New England 47-yard line.
• Neither team came away with points over the next two possessions, but the Golden Bears got the ball back at the Husson 40 yard-line with 2:06 remaining following an 18-yard punt return by sophomore Damond Davis (Springfield, Mass.).
• After three straight runs by sophomore Peter Hoff (Shelton, Conn.), Service found a wide open Henry on a play-action pass for a 28-yard touchdown with 52 seconds on the clock.
• The Western New England defense capped its stellar second half performance with three pass breakups on Husson's final drive to seal the victory for the Golden Bears.  

Notes
• Saturday's contest served as a rematch of last season's NCAA first round matchup between the Golden Bears and Eagles, which Western New England won 44-27.
• After surrendering 14 points and 172 yards in the second quarter, the Golden Bear defense limited Husson to 165 yards and no points over the final 30 minutes of regulation.
• Western New England junior Vinny Lalumia (Maywood, N.J.) punted six times for an average of 42.2 yards (long of 51), while sophomore Kieran Lombard (Dover, N.H.) recorded three touchbacks on his four kickoffs.

Up Next
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Western New England (2-2) faces another tough test next Saturday, as the Golden Bears host St. Lawrence University at 1 p.m., while Husson (2-1) will be back on the road at Endicott.