BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – The Worcester State University football team posted a 35-21 victory over Bridgewater State University in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) contest on Saturday afternoon at Swenson Field.
The visiting Lancers improve to 6-3 on the season and 5-2 in the MASCAC, while the host Bears fall to 2-7 overall and 2-5 in conference play. Worcester snapped a 12-game losing streak versus Bridgewater. The Bears still lead the all-time series, 21-11.
Junior running back Hunter Paupaw (Hudson, Mass.) rushed for 65 yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries to lead the way for Worcester State. Junior quarterback Noah Brum (Honolulu, Hawaii) completed 42 of 59 pass attempts for 423 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Brum also threw three interceptions and was sacked five times. Junior wide receiver Kharif Pryor (Brooklyn, N.Y.) hauled in 15 receptions for 107 yards and score, while sophomore tight end Jacob Maher (Marshfield, Mass.) caught six passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.
BSU junior wide receiver Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) grabbed nine passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Bridgewater State offense. Lavanchy set the Bears single-season record for receptions as he now has 73 on the year. He eclipsed Matt Green's previous mark of 69 catches set in 2013. Lavanchy also became just the third player in BSU football history to amass 1,000 receiving yards in a season as he now has 1,122 on the year.
Sophomore quarterback Stefano D'Emilia (Bridgewater, Mass.) completed 20 of 42 pass attempts for 265 yards and the two touchdowns to Lavanchy. The Bears also racked up 163 yards on the ground led by 94 yards and a touchdown by senior back Malik Garrett (Dorchester, Mass.) on just ten carries. Senior running back Alex McLaughlin (Littleton, Mass.) added 81 yards on 22 rushing attempts.
Bridgewater scored on the opening possession of the game as the Bears marched 79 yards on nine plays as D'Emilia connected with Lavanchy on a 35-yard touchdown pass. The extra point attempt, however, was blocked.
Worcester answered with a seven-play, 74-yard drive resulting in a nine-yard scoring strike from Brum to Pryor. The point after try by junior kicker Noah Hwang (Brooklyn, Mass.) was good as the visitors jumped ahead, 7-6. Later in the quarter, Paupaw capped off a nine-play, 68-yard drive with a two-yard TD run to extend the Lancers' lead. The ensuing extra point made it 14-6 with 1:52 left in the first quarter.
A 19-yard touchdown pass from Brum to Maher and another Hwang PAT made it a 21-6 game with 2:20 remaining in the second quarter. The scoring play capped off an 11-play, 82-yard drive.
Garrett busted off a 58-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-two to cut into the Worcester lead with just 51 seconds left until halftime. The Bears went for two and Garrett found D'Emilia in the end zone on the conversion attempt to make it a one-score game, 21-14.
The only score in the third quarter was a nine-yard touchdown pass from D'Emilia to Lavanchy. Senior kicker Russell Bolarinho (Acushnet, Mass.), who did not play in the first half, booted the ensuing extra point to knot the score at 21-21.
The score remained that way until late in the fourth quarter when a 53-yard punt by senior Markiesh Harmon (Leominster, Mass.) pinned the Bears at their own three. Bridgewater was only able to gain one yard on the possession and a short 35-yard punt followed by a 15-yard return by Pryor gave the Lancers outstanding field position at the BSU 24 with just 3:05 left to play.
Back-to-back pass interference penalties, including one in the end zone, set Worcester up at the two-yard line. Paupaw then punched it in from two yards out to give the Lancers the lead. After stopping the Bears on fourth down, Worcester would add a 42-yard Paupaw touchdown with 1:41 remaining to put the finishing touches on the 35-21 victory.
The key penalties on the late Lancer go-ahead drive were two of 12 accepted penalties that the Bears were called for in the loss. Bridgewater was flagged a total of 14 times, including seven defensive offside calls, but two were declined.
The two teams combined for 909 yards of total offense including 688 through the air. The BSU defense held the the Lancers to just 58 net yards rushing and forced four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble). Bridgewater, however, converted just one of the four turnovers into points.
Senior linebacker Anthony Fogarty III (Albany, N.Y.) led the Bears' defensive effort as he recorded 12 tackles (nine solo), including a pair of sacks, and recorded an interception with a 27-yard return. Senior cornerback Jonathan Marrero (Boston, Mass.) added nine tackles (eight solo) with an interception and 38-yard return to go along with two pass breakups. Sophomore defensive back Juan Gonzalez (Lawrence, Mass.) checked in with five tackles (four solo), including one for loss, an interception and 21-yard return as well as a forced and recovered fumble.
Freshman linebacker Mike Quinn (Sutton, Mass.) paced the Lancers with nine tackles including one for loss and a pass breakup.
Prior to the game, the Bears honored 17 seniors who were playing in their final home game.
Both teams wrap up the 2017 season next Saturday at noon. The Bears travel to Massachusetts Maritime Academy to take on the Buccaneers in the 39th Annual Cranberry Bowl sponsored by Ocean Spray, while the Lancers travel to Framingham State University to take on the Rams.
Notes: Lavanchy now has 121 receptions for 1,675 yards and 16 touchdowns in just two seasons with the Bears. He is now third all-time at Bridgewater State in receptions and fifth in receiving yards.