College Football: Season ends for Stonehill, Bridgewater State Saturday

College Football: Season ends for Stonehill, Bridgewater State Saturday

By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)

BROCKTON, Mass. -- The Stonehill College and Bridgewater State University football teams will have some incentive when they conclude the 2017 season on Saturday afternoon.

For the Skyhawks, a win over American International College at W.B. Mason Stadium (1 p.m. kickoff) will give them a winning overall and Northeast-10 Conference record.

The Bears, meanwhile, will be looking to continue their successful run in the Cranberry Bowl when the 39th annual game takes place at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne (noon).

Stonehill (5-4, 4-4 NE-10) will be trying to close out the season with a second straight win after routing Pace University last weekend.

“Every season has its ups and downs, and I think there’s some games we were happy with our performance and some games we definitely thought we could have and should have played better,″ said coach Eli Gardner. “We’re not going to be happy with (being 6-4), but it would be nice to finish with a winning record and in conference.″

The game will mark the final one for four-year starting quarterback Matt Foltz. The Pennsylvania native set the school record for career passing yards (7,022) last Saturday and is closing in on Logan Meyer’s record for touchdown passes (62) and passing yards in a season (2,266). Foltz enters his last game with 59 career TD passes and 2,180 yards this season.

“It’s going to be weird when he’s gone after you spend four years with the same kid under center,″ said Gardner. “I think the biggest thing is his presence as a leader. We’ve got a couple of good ones behind him and hopefully he’ll rub off on them. Matt’s definitely left this program in a better place than how he found it.″

Foltz’s top target, sophomore Andrew Jamiel, received the Division 2-3 Gold Helmet Award, presented by the New England Football Writers, on Wednesday after his record-breaking game against Pace. Jamiel had 18 catches for 294 yards and five TDs, tying his own school record for receptions and breaking the NE-10 mark for receiving yards.

“He’s doing some special stuff after the catch which shows his development as a more complete wide receiver and he’s only a sophomore,″ said Gardner. “He’s a special football player.″

Bridgewater State (2-7, 2-5 MASCAC) will finish with a losing record for only the third time in the last 30 years. One season after going undefeated in the conference and reaching the NCAA tournament, the Bears struggled with a lot of young players and dealt with a series of injuries.

“Just being young and inexperienced hurts,” said coach Joe Verria. “And you can say everybody’s got injuries, but we’ve had four (players out with) ACLs, two shoulder surgeries. We lost our two safeties. We’ve had a lot of injuries.″

Sophomore quarterback Stefano D’Emilia, a Bridgewater-Raynham graduate, has improved since taking over the starting job, throwing for 1,551 yards and 12 TDs.

“He’s improved,” said Verria. “He’s made some better decisions. He’s got a great arm, good work ethic. He’s getting better every week.″

The Cranberry Bowl began in 1979 and has become the annual season-ending game for the Bears and Buccaneers (1-8, 0-7).

BSU has won 26 of the past 29 meetings to claim the Cranberry Scoop.

“This game in the past has meant a championship, teams have been knocked out of a championship,” said Verria. “In this case, it’s two teams playing for their season. You always want to end on a good note going into the offseason after winning a rivalry game.”

The Predictions:

  • N.C. State 24, Boston College 21: The Eagles’ streak is stopped.
  • Notre Dame 27, Miami 24: The Irish slip past the Hurricanes.
  • Georgia 28, Auburn 24: A thriller in the SEC.
  • Bridgewater State 35, Mass. Maritime 21: The Bears keep the Scoop.
  • Stonehill 31, AIC 17: The Skyhawks go out on a winning note.