Perry pleased with progress
Bryant headed into season finale riding three-game winning streak
SMITHFIELD — After a poor kickoff return late in the first half of Saturday’s Northeast Conference road clash with winless Robert Morris, Bryant coach James Perry challenged kick returner Jean Constant and the rest of the kickoff unit to improve.
On the Bulldogs’ next kickoff return they did. Constant returned a short Nick Bisceglia kick 86 yards for a touchdown as part of a 42-17 victory over Robert Morris.
“Jean is a very talented, fast kid, but all 10 guys made their blocks,” Perry said. “You don’t see that very often on kick returns. That was a huge play. That was important and an indication of how hard they’re working during the week.”
Constant returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the second time in three weeks and earned National FCS Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second time in the last three weeks.
After Bryant (5-5, 3-2 Northeast Conference) suffered a road defeat to Central Connecticut on Oct. 21, the Bulldogs were three games under .500 and winless in conference play. That defeat was followed by impressive victories over Wagner, Sacred Heart and the Colonials.
During the three-game winning streak, Price Wilson and the Bryant offense has averaged 40.3 points, while the defense has held two of the three opponents under 20 points.
“The best thing that we have going is we just keep playing better,” Perry said. “Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but we’re playing better. I know this sounds like coach-speak, but regardless of how these last three games had gone, because we’re playing better and working hard, we’re well established to take another step. This program is poised to do that.”
While Wilson set a new program single-season passing record with 2,982 yards, the biggest development on offense was the running game. Leading rushers Isaac McCray and Brenden Femiano missed the contest, so fullback Jake Wiswall and red-shirt freshman Alfred Dorbor had the chance to show they deserve more playing time going forward.
Wiswall, a bruising fullback, carried the ball a team-high 18 times for a team-high 66 yards and a touchdown.
“We keep working hard to make sure that no only are we running the ball, but making sure we’re efficient running the ball,” Perry said. “Even though we weren’t hugely effective, the fact that we were efficient helped us play faster and get into a rhythm. That was key.”
For Blackstone Valley football fans, Dorbor’s recent performances were good to see after the former St. Raphael star had his true freshman season ruined by a lisfranc injury. Dorbor, who scored his first career touchdown Saturday, has carried the ball 17 times for 85 yards in the last two wins.
“He’s recovering from a difficult injury and he’s a strong kid who works hard in the weight room – we actually have to pull the reigns back on him because it’s a tricky injury,” Perry said. “He’s a competitor and he wants to go right away. He’s gotten stronger.”
Defensively, Thomas Costigan continues to show he’s one of the premier defensive players in the conference and the region. The Stamford, Conn. linebacker had seven tackles and three sacks. Costigan leads the NEC in sacks (11) and tackles for loss (16.5). Costigan also leads the team with 87 tackles and four forced fumbles.
The Bulldogs finish the campaign Saturday at noon at Beirne Field against Duquesne. The Dukes (4-1 NEC) are fresh off a 28-27 loss in a de-facto conference title game to unbeaten Central Connecticut State.
“I know this sounds like coach-speak, but regardless of how these last three games had gone, because we’re playing better and working hard, we’re well established to take another step.” – Bryant coach James Perry
Bryant receiver/returner Jean Constant (2) returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the second time this season in Saturday’s win over Robert Morris.