WALTHAM, Mass. – Following a bye week, the Bentley University Falcons will launch the second half of the season Saturday afternoon by hosting an improved Pace University team. Kickoff is set for 1 pm.
Bentley completed an injury-riddled first half of the season with a 1-4 record, including 1-3 in Northeast-10 action, and a three-game slide. A duo who teamed for 100 receptions and 22 TD catches last season have combined to play less than a half and two opening-day starters on defense have been lost for the year.
Pace, which closed out the pre-bye portion of its schedule with a 51-30 win over Stonehill, comes into Waltham at 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the NE10. It's been a decade since the Setters have won more than three games in a season.
Bentley is coming off a 31-27 loss to New Haven, a game in which the Falcons produced a season-best 386 yards and were in the hunt until the final minute against one of the three co-leaders in the Northeast-10. The Falcons rushed for over 120 yards for the fourth straight game and surpassed 340 yards total offense for the third consecutive week.
Sophomore QB Stephen Sturm (Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley HS) threw for a season-high 263 yards while distributing the ball to seven different receivers and junior running back Jordan Artope (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Hendrick Hudson HS) ran for two touchdowns and averaged 5.2 yards per carry (10 for 52).
Sturm, over the last three weeks, has completed 58 percent of his passes for 643 yards and four TDs. While not as lofty as his numbers from 2017, they are up from 45 percent for 65 yards and no TDs during the first two games this fall.
Senior Jordan Zlogar (Shenendehowa, N.Y./Clifton Park HS) was Bentley's number one receiver during the first half of the season with 26 for 292 yards and two TDs. He ranks sixth in the NE10 in receptions and is also eighth in receiving yards.
Sophomore Andrew Brazicki (Franklin Park, N.Y./Bishop Ahr HS) is eighth in the conference in rushing yards with 300. He's gotten the ball at least 12 times in every game and ran for a season-best 80 yards in the only win, 24-22 at Southern Connecticut.
However, the Falcons have been vulnerable against the rush with five opposing rushing backs posting 100-yard performances.
While Bentley has had trouble defending against the rush, Pace has enjoyed success running the fall. The Setters average a conference-best 5.5 yards per carry and are second in the NE10 in rushing yards per game (208.8). Overall, they averaged 396.6 yards total offense, fourth best in the conference.
The Setters have the NE10's number two rusher in senior Jhalen Bien-Aime, who is just 18 yards shy of breaking the program's career rushing record (1,873). This season, he's number two in the NE10 with 536 yards.
Carlton Aiken, a junior, has seen the bulk of the playing time at QB for Pace the last two games and is coming off a sparkling performance against Stonehill, one that saw him complete 17 of 20 passes for 240 yards and four TDs.
Bentley is 15-4 overall against Pace but saw its 14-game winning streak in the series halted a year ago, 20-17. The Falcons scored with 1:17 left to pull within three and forced a three-and-out to regain the ball with 22 seconds later. They moved to the Pace 32 before a 49-yard field goal attempt on the final play missed wide.
Bentley will also be at home next Saturday, taking on Stonehill College with a 1 pm kickoff.