By Nick Costa, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- When the Bridgewater State University football team dropped its season opener, 20-19, at Buffalo State last week thanks to a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, it was an outcome that the Bears could readily understand.
However, the stunning and inexplicable outcome of Bridgewater State’s home-opening game against Endicott College will likely linger with the Bears for some time to come.
Joe Kalosky’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Sheilan Velazquez as time expired lifted Endicott (1-1) to an improbable 29-28 victory over BSU (0-2) in a non-conference matchup at Swenson Field on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m speechless,” said BSU coach Joe Verria. “We had so many chances to put that game away and we just couldn’t do it.”
Kalosky led the Gulls’ offense through the air, completing 21 of 38 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Riley Shanley led Endicott’s receiving corps with six catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
BSU senior running back Alex McLaughlin rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Jack Lavanchy led the Bears with seven receptions for 110 yards.
After each team alternated defensive stands for much of the opening quarter, Endicott broke on top when Kalosky connected with Shanley on a 42-yard touchdown pass, putting Endicott ahead, 7-0.
On the first possession of the second quarter, BSU special teams came up big, as Bridgewater native Stefano D’Emilia pinned the Gulls at their own 3-yard line with a 31-yard punt.
From there, Endicott was whistled for holding in the end zone, resulting in a safety and cutting the Endicott lead to 7-2 with 13:37 left in the first half.
After the Bears’ defense held Endicott to a three-and-out, the BSU offense went to work as quarterback Jonathan Marrero (3 of 8, 67 yards, one touchdown) used his legs and his arm to lead the BSU offense on a seven-play, 93-yard drive, highlighted by a 27-yard completion to Brandon Giles and a 26-yard touchdown strike to Malik Garrett, putting Bridgewater State ahead, 8-7, at halftime.
After the Bridgewater State defense forced Endicott to punt to open the third quarter, the Bears made a costly error as D’Emilia, who threw for 113 yards on 8 of 19 passing and no touchdowns, was picked off by Jesse Simoni at the BSU 22.
Kalosky found Shanley for another touchdown, giving Endicott a 13-8 lead with 12:26 left in the third quarter.
Endicott forced a three-and-out on the next BSU possession and its offense went back to work, as Kalosky hit Zach DeNike for a 9-yard touchdown pass, increasing the Gulls’ lead to 19-8 with 6:33 left in the third quarter.
BSU’s offense responded behind McLaughlin as he scored on a 59-yard touchdown run, cutting the Endicott lead to 19-16 with 6:15 left in the third stanza.
Any momentum that BSU had was short-lived as Levante Wiggins (14 rushes, 76 yards) had a 10-yard gain down to the BSU 17, before John Glaser hit a 29-field goal, extending the Endicott lead to 22-16 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Bears’ offense responded again behind McLaughlin, as he had four rushes for 28 yards on the opening drive of the final frame and tied the game at 22 with a 1-yard touchdown run. BSU missed the extra point, leaving the score at 22-22 with 10:39 left in regulation.
After holding Endicott to a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, Bridgewater State seized control as Marrero hit Lavanchy on a 31-yard gain to the Endicott 40, before Marrero found Giles a few plays later for a 19-yard go-ahead score. The extra point was blocked, leaving BSU with a 28-22 lead with 6:55 left in regulation.
After the each team’s defenses held fast, D’Emilia punted a ball down to the Endicott 8-yard-line with 1:51 to play. Brandon Johnson made a miraculous one-handed grab for a 51-yard gain down to the BSU 41.
After Kalosky rushed for 5 yards to the BSU 36, a key personal foul penalty against the Bears moved the ball to the BSU 21 with 19 seconds to play. A holding penalty on Endicott moved the ball back to the BSU 31.
After an incomplete pass stopped the clock with 10 seconds left, Kalosky threw the ball into the end zone and found Velasquez for the 31-yard score to tie the game. Glaser kicked the extra point to give Endicott a 29-28 victory.
Penalties hurt BSU in this game as they had 11 fouls for 95 total yards.
Reda Laftih had four tackles for BSU and Charles McCarthy had three tackles for the Bears.
For his part, Verria, focused on BSU’s upcoming conference schedule, starting with a home game on Friday against MASCAC rival Framingham State University at 7 p.m.
“I am proud of the way this team fought all game. They gave 100 percent effort,” said Verria. “We just have to do our best to look ahead to our conference schedule. We started 0-2 last year, so we need to put this loss behind us and focus all week.”