Strong First Half Propels Football to First Win, 23-16 at Anna Maria

Strong First Half Propels Football to First Win, 23-16 at Anna Maria

PAXTON, Mass. - The Anna Maria College football team outscored the Curry College Colonels in the second half, but a high-scoring first-half propelled the Colonels to a 23-16 non-conference win to spoil the AMCATS' Homecoming weekend.

With the win, the Colonels net their first win of the season to improve to 1-2, while the AMCATS remain winless at 0-3.


Today was the beginning of a new series for the AMCATS and Curry, as the two teams have never met prior to today's game.


The Colonels first three drives resulted in touchdowns and three good extra-point attempts by Marc Mrozek gave Curry the padding they needed to hold on for the victory, as the AMCAT defense settled down midway through the second quarter and would not allow the Colonel defense another score after that.

Meanwhile, the AMCAT offense chipped away at the deficit, first with a field goal and a touchdown in the second quarter, followed by another touchdown in the fourth quarter. A costly long-snap in the fourth quarter gave the Colonels an extra two points on a team safety, and the final five scoreless minutes of action saw three three-and-outs and an AMCAT turnover to end the game.


First Quarter: The Colonels needed just 4:45 and four plays to travel 48 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mike O'Hearn (Billerica, Mass.). Seven-and-a-half minutes later, O'Hearn found Jake Cawlina (Danvers, Mass.) for a 24-yard touchdown reception.

Second Quarter: The AMCATS used 7:37 and 15 plays to get kicker Francis Cole (Maspeth, N.Y.) within range; the freshman booted a 25-yard field goal to bring the score to 14-3. The Colonels had an answer on their next drive, traveling 64 yards on four plays to set up Kevin McTomney (Bellingham, Mass.) for the seven-yard touchdown reception from O'Hearn.

Anna Maria scored their first touchdown of the day on the ensuing drive, as the offensive line gave quarterback Malik Faison (Bowie, Md.) ample time to eye his options, finally settling on a streaking William Ricard (Billerica, Mass.), who took one step into the end zone for the score. Cole hit the extra point and Anna Maria entered halftime trailing 21-10.

Fourth Quarter: After a scoreless third quarter, the AMCATS were the first to score in the second half, as the team used 13 plays and just over seven minutes of clock time to travel 59 yards, resulting in a 15-yard reception for Ricard. Trailing 21-16 with 8:36 left in the half, the AMCATS opted for a two-point conversion attempt, but Faison was brought down short of the end zone.

At the 5:07 mark following an Anna Maria three-and-out, the team set up to punt but the snap sailed over Stefano Marziale's (Cranston, R.I.) head and out the back of the AMCAT end zone, giving Curry a two-point safety and setting the score at 23-16.


Anna Maria saw Faison complete nine of 24 pass attempts on the day for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Ricard caught both touchdowns and totaled 44 receiving yards on four catches. Jafar Ashasaheed (Brooklyn, N.Y.) caught a 45-yard pass in his only catch of the day.

On the run, the team was led by senior Christopher Bettano (Tewksbury, Mass.), who totaled 76 yards on 20 carries. St. Clair Ryan (South Easton, Mass.) added 10 carries for 33 yards, while Faison kept the ball for 11 carries and 15 yards.


Senior linebacker Victor Sambola (Worcester, Mass.) had a big day on defense for the AMCATS, totaling a team-best nine tackles including one for a loss of five yards. Classmate Mike Sinto (Long Beach, N.Y.) added six tackles, while freshman Kai Nero-Clark (Wheatley Heights, N.Y.), a defensive lineman, tipped two pass attempts and forced a fumble, which was recovered by teammate Christian Minicozzi (West Islip, N.Y.) late in the third quarter.

As a whole, the defensive unit held Curry to 205 yards of total offense and just 48 rushing yards. Senior Tyler Rocha (Cranston, R.I.), freshman Emmanuel Hans (Lowell, Mass.) and sophomore Terrell Campbell (Brooklyn, Mass.) all tallied sacks on the day.


O'Hearn completed 13 passes in 23 attemtps for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Anthony Nastasi () was his primary target with seven completions for 41 yards. Cawlina totaled 60 yards on two receptions, while Jordan Shairs finished with three catches for 49 yards.

Shairs was also the team's rushing leaders, netting 43 yards on 12 carries for a total of 92 all-purpose yards.

Defensively, the Colonels saw 13 tackles from Devin Williams (Gardner, Mass.) and 10 tackles from Dylan Spence (Newton, N.H.). Joe Zariello (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.) finished with a game-high three tackles-for-loss, while Joe Surace (West Islip, N.Y.) and Joe Grogan (Forestdale, Mass.) both recorded sacks on the day.


The AMCAT held a 17-13 advantage in first downs on the day and totaled 40 more yards of offense than their visitors. Anna Maria nearly doubled-up Curry in time of possession, holding the ball for 39:17 in comparison to Curry's 20:47. (Recap courtesy of Anna Maria Sports Information)