WORCESTER, Mass. - The 16th ranked Assumption football team plays its final road contest of the regular season when the team travels to face Stonehill in Easton at 1 pm on Saturday.
Last Time Out
Assumption's offense stalled early and New Haven jumped out to a 7-0 lead early. The Hounds responded with a 24-7 outburst in the second quarter, with three touchdowns - two rushing, one kickoff return - from junior Dylan Oxsen to take back the lead. Assumption allowed the Chargers to pull within seven late, but Oxsen put the game away with his fourth touchdown of the year. Andrew Benson and Nick Valenti led the defense with nine tackles apiece.
No. 16 Assumption looks to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the Northeast-10 when the team travels to face Stonehill on Saturday at 1 pm. Assumption looks to win its seventh consecutive road game against NE-10 competition and have scored at least 32 points in each of those contests. They've also surpassed 40 points in four of the six games. Stonehill enters the contest having lost two of three games, including a 27-7 defeat at the half of Bentley on the road last weekend.
The Hound offense has been impressive this year, surpassing 50 points twice and ranking 15th nationally, averaging 41.4 points per game. They've showcased a balanced offense this year, averaging 252.0 passing yards and 196.9 rushing yards for 449.8 yards per game overall.
Lock Down Defense
Assumption is putting together one of the most impressive seasons on the defensive side of the ball in program history, as they're allowing just 17.1 points per game and no team has scored more than 24 points against them. They've only given up six passing touchdowns this season. The team leads the nation in passer efficiency defense this year (82.1) and is seventh in passing defense, at just 153.4 yards per game, while opponents have only completed 45.5 percent of passes.
Cool Under Center
Junior Marc Monks has been solid in his first season as a starter for the Hounds. He has completed 59.2 percent of his passes this year while throwing for 249.6 yards per game, along with an NE-10 best 20 touchdown passes with six interceptions. He has thrown for at least two touchdowns in seven games, while surpassing 260 passing yards in four of his eight starts. Monks has also rushed for 124 yards and two scores.
It Starts on the Line
The Assumption offensive line has been a key to the team's success, leading the nation with only two sacks allowed this year, despite quarterbacks having attempted 245 passes. Anchored by right tackle and senior Sully Crotty, three other linemen have started all six games, in DJ DeGeorge, Tyler Armillay and James McNerny. Quentin Hall and Patrick Corcoran have served as the other starters this year.
The trio of Alex Shain, Dylan Oxsen and Doug Santos have been dynamic for the Hounds this year, rushing for 486, 427 and 309 yards respectively Shain is averaging 4.7 yards per carry with four scores while Oxsen has scored 11 rushing touchdowns while averaging 4.3 yards per rush. A freshman, Santos is averaging 5.6 yards per rush with a team-long rush of 52 yards.
Junior Ashton Grant has been one of the most dominant receivers in the region this year, leading the team in receptions (53), yards (726) and touchdowns (10) while appearing in seven contests. He has caught at least five passes in every game in which he has played, while recording three multi touchdown games. Sophomore Deonte Harris is second on the team with 20 catches for 308 yards and three scores while Sophomore Brandon Swain-Price has 14 receptions for 304 yards and three touchdowns.
Getting to the Quarterback
The Assumption defense is averaging 2.25 sacks per game this year and is averaging 7.25 tackles for a loss this year. Defensive linemen Joe Bruno and Mario Garcia lead the team with 2.0 sacks to go with 8.0 and 3.5 tackles for a loss. Senior Nick Valenti, meanwhile is third on the team with 47 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and 1.0 sack.
Secondary to None
The senior quartet of Jarrod Casey and Andrew Benson, Charles Reid and Bakari Blunt have anchored one of the best defensive backfields in the region. Safeties Casey and Benson lead the Hounds in tackles this year, as Casey has 63 and Benson is right behind him with 60. Casey also has two interceptions, while Benson has two picks and nine pass breakups. Reid leads teh team with four interceptions from his cornerback position along with a team-high 14 passes defended. Blunt, meanwhile has one interception with eight pass breakups.
Assumption has won its last two games against Stonehill but is just 2-3 against the Skyhawks over the past five years. Four of the past five have been decided by seven points or less, with the lone exception being last year's 28-14 victory by the Hounds. In that game, Assumption jumped out to a 17-0 lead at the half, though Stonehill managed to close the gap to 20-14 with just under eight minutes remaining. The Hounds responded with a Deonte Harris touchdown on its next drive and then Andrew Benson intercepted the Skyhawks at the two-yard line to quell any comeback attempt.
The Hounds have been ranked for 11 consecutive weeks, dating back to last season. It is the longest such stretch in program history. The team was ranked as high as 15th earlier in the year and is currently sitting at 16th in the nation. They are the only Division II school in New England to be ranked.