BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – The Bridgewater State University football team held off visiting Plymouth State University, 19-13, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) matchup on Friday night at Swenson Field.
The host Bears improve to 4-2 on the season and 3-1 in the MASCAC, while the Panthers fall to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in conference play. Despite the setback, Plymouth still leads the all-time series, 18-14-1.
Senior wide receiver Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) pulled down a game-high 12 receptions for 128 yards, while senior slot receiver Travis Bassett (Littleton, Mass.) hauled in eight passes for 79 yards and a touchdown to pace the BSU offense.
With his 12 catches, Lavanchy increased his career total to 178 as he surpassed Matt Green (169 rec.) as the Bears' all-time leader in receptions. Lavanchy (2,326 yds.) also leapfrogged Bassett (2,287 yds.) for third place on BSU's all-time receiving yardage list.
BSU junior quarterback Stefano D'Emilia (Bridgewater, Mass.) completed 21 of 33 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for a score. Junior running back Nick Santavicca (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) carried the ball 18 times for 73 yards and a touchdown.
The Bears racked up 415 yards of total offense with 302 coming through the air. Bridgewater converted 9 of 15 (60%) third down attempts, but was hurt by nine penalties for 95 yards.
Plymouth State opened the scoring on a 27-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Zack Edwards (Brookfield, Mass.) to junior wideout Jacob Szulc (Concord, N.H.) with 4:23 remaining in the first quarter. The scoring strike capped off a quick five-play, 57-yard drive. Sophomore kicker Jeremy Martins' (Charlton, Mass.) PAT was good as Plymouth held the early 7-0 lead.
The Bears answered on the ensuing possession as they drove 71 yards on 13 plays with Santavicca punching it in from a yard out. The extra point attempt, however, sailed wide left as Bridgewater trailed, 7-6.
Following back-to-back punts, the Panthers took over at the their own 33. Plymouth moved the ball 40 yards on eight plays, but the drive stalled at the BSU 27. Martin converted a 44-yard field goal to extend the Panthers' advantage to 10-6 with 3:45 remaining in the second quarter.
Bridgewater responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that took just 2:26 off the clock. D'Emilia found Bassett in the end zone from 20 yards out to give the Bears a 12-10 lead. Bridgewater decided to go for two, but the Bears were unable to convert.
A Matt Willis (Raynham, Mass.) interception off a tipped ball on the opening possession of the third quarter gave the Bears outstanding field position at the Plymouth 47. Eight plays later, D'Emilia ran it in from two yards out for his first career rushing touchdown. Senior kicker Jacob Crear (North Attleboro, Mass.) knocked home the extra point as Bridgewater increased its lead to 19-10.
The Panthers moved the ball down to the Bridgewater 37 on their next possession, but BSU junior strong safety Mark Wilson (Foxborough, Mass.) forced a fumble which was recovered by freshman linebacker Steven Silvia (Dighton, Mass.). The Bears then moved the ball 67 yards on six plays and had a first and goal at the Plymouth six. The Panthers' defense held, however, and a D'Emilia pass attempt on fourth and goal from the one was off the mark as the Bears turned the ball over on downs.
A Martin 30-yard field goal with 10:15 remaining in the fourth quarter pulled the visitors to within a touchdown at 19-13.
Senior cornerback Mitch Banuskevich (Milford, N.H.) came up with a key interception in the end zone to thwart another potential Bridgewater State scoring drive. The Panthers were unable to capitalize as their final two possessions resulted in a punt and a turnover on downs.
Plymouth State finished with 261 yards of total offense. Edwards completed 14 of 35 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, while Szulc grabbed five receptions for 79 yards and a score. Junior running back David Hamilton (West Deptford, N.J.) rushed for 64 yards on 14 carries.
Wilson paced a solid BSU defensive effort as he record seven solo tackles with two for loss to go along with his forced fumble. Jaren Alves notched a team-best eight tackles (six solo) with a pass breakup, while Silvia finished with seven solo stops with one for loss and the recovered fumble. Sophomore linebacker Michael Rosa (Uxbridge, Mass.) and senior defensive end Rhondell Teesdale (Dorchester, Mass.) each recorded a sack.
Plymouth junior safety Matt Shea (Windham, N.H.) led all players with 12 tackles (ten solo), while senior cornerback Brady LaFrance (West Paris, Maine) registered eight tackles (seven solo) with a tackle for loss and two pass breakups.
The MASCAC schedule continues for both teams on Saturday, October 13th. The Bears celebrate Homecoming Weekend by welcoming UMass Dartmouth to Swenson Field. Kickoff is slated for 4:00 PM. The Panthers travel to Framingham State University for a noontime game with the Rams.
Notes: D'Emilia and freshman quarterback Brad Thiltgen (Cumming Ga.) combined for a BSU single-game team record 31 pass completions. They eclipsed the previous team mark of 29 completions set in 2016 against Curry College.