BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – The Bridgewater State University football team rolled to a 42-15 victory over visiting Fitchburg State University in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) contest on Friday night at Swenson.
The host Bears improve to 2-2 on the season and 1-1 In the MASCAC, while the Falcons fall to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in conference play. Bridgewater is now 26-8 all-time versus Fitchburg. The two team first met back in 1986 and have played every year since.
Bridgewater racked up a season-high 466 yards of total offense in a well-balanced attack. The Bears, who scored in every quarter, rushed for 243 yards and finished with 223 through the air.
BSU junior quarterback Stefano D'Emilia (Bridgewater, Mass.) completed 7 of 13 passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns, while freshman signal caller Brad Thiltgen (Cumming, Ga.) was 3-for-6 for 81 yards and a touchdown. Thiltgen also rushed for 56 yards on seven carries.
Senior wide receiver Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) caught four passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore wide out T.J. Hairston (Watertown, Mass.) had two catches for 68 yards and a score. Senior slot receiver Travis Bassett (Littleton, Mass.) added two receptions for 53 yards and a TD. Bassett also rushed for a touchdown.
Junior running back Nick Santavicca (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) rushed for a game-high 95 yards on 13 carries.
The Bears scored on the opening possession of the game as they moved the ball 71 yards on seven plays capped off by a Bassett six-yard touchdown reception from D'Emilia. Senior kicker Jacob Crear (North Attleboro, Mass.) knocked home the extra point to give the hosts a 7-0 lead.
Later in the half, the Bears put together a nine-play, 92-yard drive with Bassett running it in from seven yards out for his second touchdown of the evening. Crear's point after try was good as Bridgewater led 14-0 with 12:45 remaining in the second quarter.
Bridgewater took advantage of a poor punt late in the half to take over at the Fitchburg 28-yard line. Three plays later, D'Emilia hooked up with Lavanchy on a 12-yard scoring strike with 2:31 showing on the scoreboard. Crear connected for the PAT as the Bears led 21-0 heading into the break.
The Bears scored twice in the third quarter to extend the advantage to 35-0. Hairston hauled in a 51-yard TD pass from D'Emilia, while sophomore running back David Coakley (Bourne, Mass.) punched it in after recovering his own fumble on a short goal line run to cap off a six-play, 55-yard drive. Crear converted on both extra points.
Both Hairston and Coakley found the end zone for the first time in a BSU uniform.
Thiltgen connected with Lavanchy on a 50-yard touchdown to open the fourth quarter. Crear booted his sixth PAT of the evening to give Bridgewater State a 42-0 lead. The touchdown pass marked the first of Thiltgen's collegiate career.
The Bridgewater State defense held the Falcons scoreless until the game was well decided in the fourth quarter. Fitchburg scored a pair of touchdowns in the final period to round out the scoring. Junior back-up quarterback Connor Fitzsimons (Flushing, N.Y.) connected with sophomore Drew Ridenour (Mashpee, Mass.) on a 17-yard TD pass, while senior running back Chris Tamukedde (Lowell, Mass.) added a 19-yard touchdown run.
Fitzsimons completed 4 of 9 passes off the bench for 61 yards and the score for the Falcons. Freshman quarterback Brandon Brown (Lake Mary, Fla.) rushed for 46 yards and was 8-for-15 through the air for 83 yards before leaving the game in the second half due to an injury.
Tamukedde was the Falcons' leading rusher with 50 yards on six carries, while junior wide receiver Jesse Brown (Yonkers, N.Y.) finished with game-high totals of six receptions and 82 receiving yards.
The BSU defense forced a pair of fumbles while Fitchburg was just 3-for-14 (21%) on third down conversions. The Bears' also held junior tailback Jacqua Solomon (Bridgeport, Conn.) to just 35 yards on 12 attempts. Solomon entered the game averaging 142 yards on the ground.
Freshman defensive end Dimitri Dorinvil (Brockton, Mass.) recorded five tackles (four solo), while junior strong safety Mark Wilson (Foxboro, Mass.) notched five tackles (three solo) and forced a fumble to highlight the Bears' defensive effort.
Sophomore linebacker Melchior Lynch (Roxbury, Mass.) paced the Fitchburg defense with a game-high 15 tackles including ten solo stops and 1 ½ for loss. Junior Malik Crawford (Yonkers, N.Y.) recorded three solo tackles and made an outstanding one-handed interception late in the second quarter.
The MASCAC schedule continues for both teams on Saturday, September 29th at 2:00 PM. The Bears travel to Westfield State University to take on the Owls, while the Falcons entertain the Buccaneers of Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Notes: Lavanchy (2,054 yds.) became the fourth receiver in Bridgewater State football history to reach the 2,000-yard milestone joining all-time leader Matt Green (2,765 yds.), BSU Hall of Famer Andy Macaione (2,742 yds.) and Bassett (2,182 yds.)….Lavanchy now has 158 receptions in a BSU uniform, while Bassett has 149. Green hold the Bears' all-time receptions mark with 169....D'Emilia moved into eighth place on the Bears' all-time passing yardage list as he increased his career passing total to 2,360 yards.