DANBURY, Conn. – The Western Connecticut State University football team outlasted Bridgewater State University in four overtimes, 50-48, in a key Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup on Saturday night at the Western Athletic Complex.
The host Colonials remain unbeaten on the season as they improve to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the MASCAC. The Bears fall to 5-3 on the year and 4-2 in conference play. It was the first four overtime game in BSU football history. In 2016, the Bears played in a pair of double overtime contests.
Kyle McKinnon rushed for four touchdowns including two in overtime as West Conn rallied from a 28-14 fourth quarter deficit. McKinnon finished with 72 rushing yards on 20 carries and scored a paired of two-point conversions including the game-winner.
David James completed 24 of 45 pass attempts for 402 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions. James' main target was Austin Calamita who caught eight passes for 164 yards and score. Will Daniels (5 rec., 79 yds.) and Lucas DeSouza (3 rec., 56 yds.) also grabbed TD receptions for the Colonials.
Nick Santavicca had a tremendous game for Bridgewater State as he rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns on a school-record 42 carries. Two of Santavicca's TD runs also came in overtime.
BSU quarterback Stefano D'Emilia completed 24 of 41 pass attempts for 312 yards and four touchdowns with a pair of interceptions. Travis Bassett hauled in eight receptions for 117 yards and a career-best three touchdowns, while Jack Lavanchy had 12 catches, including the 200th of his career, for 135 yards and a score. Lavanchy (202 receptions) is the first receiver in BSU football history to catch 200 passes.
The two teams combined for 1,042 yards of total offense with Bridgewater State recording a season-high 555 yards. The Bears outgained the Colonials on the ground, 238 to 85.
West Conn scored on the opening drive of the game. The Colonials moved the ball 62 yards on 12 plays with McKinnon punching it in from a yard out. Jordan D'Onofrio knocked through the extra point to give the hosts the early 7-0 lead.
The Bears turned the ball over on downs on their first possession as they went for it on fourth and goal from the four. The drive lasted 14 plays and encompassed 71 yards, but stalled in the red zone.
Following a Colonial punt, D'Emilia led the Bears on a nine-play, 54-yard drive resulting in a 19-yard touchdown pass to Lavanchy on the first play of the second quarter. Jacob Crear's PAT was good as the score was tied at 7-7.
After Bridgewater forced a turnover on downs, the Bears moved the ball 66 yards down to the one-yard line. On a fourth and goal, Santavicca ran around end for the touchdown. Crear's extra point made it a 14-7 game with 6:10 remaining in the first half.
West Conn answered with a 57-yard touchdown pass from James to Calamita with D'Onofrio converting the PAT to knot the score at 14-14.
The Bears responded with a long 16-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown pass from D'Emilia to Bassett on fourth-and-goal with just seven seconds remaining in the first half. Crear knocked the PAT through to give the Bears a 21-14 lead at the break.
After an exchange of punts to open the second half, D'Emilia connected with Bassett on a 70-yard scoring strike to put the Bears up by two scores. Crear's point after try was true as Bridgewater increased its advantage to 28-14 with 8:03 remaining in the third quarter.
The next six possessions resulted in a turnover on downs, back-to-back punts, back-to-back interceptions and another punt.
Taking over with outstanding field position at the BSU 39, James hooked up with DeSouza on a 33-yard touchdown pass with 11:07 left to play in the fourth quarter. D'Onofrio's PAT pulled the Colonials to within 28-21.
On the ensuing possession, the Bears moved the ball 57 yards on nine plays. On fourth-and-three from the 16, Bridgewater elected to attempt a 33-yard field goal. The field goal try, however, was blocked as West Conn kept it a one-score game with 7:24 remaining in regulation.
The Colonials promptly moved the ball 80 yards on ten plays capped off by a McKinnon eight-yard TD run with two minutes showing on the scoreboard. D'Onofrio tied the game up at 28-28 as his point after try was good.
Following a Bridgewater punt, Samuel Boamah came up with a big interception on a tipped ball to give the Bears' great field position at the West Conn 40 with 22 seconds remaining. A 45-yard field goal attempt by Lavanchy as time expired fell short as the game went to overtime.
In the first overtime session, James connected with Daniels on a 30-yard touchdown pass to put the Colonials out in front, 34-28. The extra points attempt, however, was blocked by Matt Willis. The Bears answered with a Santavicca seven-yard touchdown run and had a chance to win the game with a successful PAT. The attempt was blocked by Vinnie Scancarello and the game went to a second overtime with the score knotted at 34-34.
In the second overtime session, both quarterbacks tossed interceptions as the game remained deadlocked. Tariq Odom recorded the interception for West Conn, while Michael Rosa came up with the pick for Bridgewater State.
In the third overtime, West Conn converted a key fourth-and-ten, and McKinnon scored on an eight-yard touchdown run to put the Colonials back on top. McKinnon then converted the two-point try to make it 42-34. A Santavicca eight-yard TD run on the Bears' possession set up a game-tying two-point try. Santavicca's conversion pass as he was being tackled found its way to D'Emilia in the end zone as the game headed to overtime number four with the score tied at 42-42.
The fourth overtime saw the Bears jump ahead 48-42 on a D'Emilia to Bassett seven-yard touchdown pass. The two-point try, however, was no good. McKinnon scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the game, this time from a yard out, to tie the score at 48-48. McKinnon then barely got in for the conversion to give the Colonials the dramatic 50-48 win.
Eddie Miller led the West Conn defensive effort with 14 tackles (11 solo), an interception and a pass breakup, while Kevin Maxen finished with a game-high 16 tackles (nine solo).
Rhondell Teesdale paced the BSU defense with eight tackles (six solo) and a sack. Jaren Alves also notched eight tackles (seven solo) and broke up two passes. Mark Wilson and Boamah added seven tackles each.
Following a bye week, the Bears will travel to Worcester State University on Saturday, November 3rd for a noontime MASCAC game with the Lancers. The Colonials travel to Fitchburg State University next Saturday afternoon (Oct. 27) to take on the Falcons at two.
Notes: Santavicca eclipsed Frank Dennison's previous BSU single-game mark of 38 rushing attempts set in 1986 against Westfield State....Lavanchy now has 2,646 receiving yards in just three seasons at Bridgewater State as he closes in on Matt Green's all-time program mark of 2,765 receiving yards. Lavanchy moved passed BSU Hall of Famer Andy Macaione (2,642 yds.) on the Bears' all-time receiving list….Lavanchy also has 74 receptions on the season as he is six shy of his own BSU single-season mark of 80 receptions set a year ago....Bassett now has 173 catches for 2,452 yards and 22 touchdowns. He jumped over Green (169 rec.) for second place on the Bears' all-time receptions list....D'Emilia's 312 passing yards are the fourth highest single-game total in BSU football history….With his 312 passing yards, D'Emilia increased his career total to 3,206 as he became just the sixth quarterback in program history to reach the 3,000-yard passing milestone....The game marked the first overtime tilt for Bridgewater State since November 19th of 2016, a 33-27 NCAA Tournament loss to Alfred University.