By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Halfway through the season, the Bridgewater State University football team has exceeded its win total from a year ago.
With five games down and five to go, the Bears are 3-2 after struggling through a 2-8 season in 2017, and now they play two straight games at home.
Bridgewater State hosts Plymouth State University at Swenson Field on Friday at 7 p.m., then will entertain UMass-Dartmouth a week from Saturday as part of homecoming weekend.
“We’ve got a couple of games in a row at home and both are big games,” said coach Joe Verria, whose team has a two-game winning streak. “You just want to keep building off the previous week. The kids are working hard. We’ve had a good week of practice.”
After dropping road games to Endicott and Framingham State, the Bears bounced back with victories over Fitchburg State and Westfield State and are 2-1 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“We fixed a lot of things both offensively and defensively and the kids have matured and gotten better.” said Verria. “They understand what we’re doing better and they’ve responded.”
The BSU offense is being handled by quarterbacks Stefano D’Emilia and freshman Brad Thiltgen in a rotation that began after the loss at Framingham State.
Thiltgen completed 11-of-15 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 42 yards on 11 carries at Westfield State.
“Both of them were successful,” said Verria. “It’s been working out pretty good.”
Wide receiver Jack Lavanchy is closing in on the school record for receptions. He enters the Plymouth State game with 166, just behind the leader, Matt Green of Stoughton, who caught 169 passes from 2011-2014. Lavanchy also ranks fourth with 2,198 receiving yards.
Plymouth State, which shared the MASCAC title with Framingham State a year ago, went to the NCAA Division 3 tournament for the first time since 2008.
The Panthers are off to a 2-2 start, including 1-2 in the conference, and are coming off a 38-6 win over Worcester State.
“They’re good,” said Verria. “They’re big and physical up front. They run the ball very well. The offense is very good. Defensively, they’re very, very disciplined. It’s a very good football team and they don’t give you anything and they have the best special teams in the conference.
“It’s a huge challenge, definitely. We got better last week and played pretty well on both sides of the ball. We’re just trying to get better again this week.”
- North Carolina State 28, Boston College 24: The Eagles are edged on the road.
- Notre Dame 31, Virginia Tech 27: The Irish slip past the Hokies.
- Florida 24, LSU 21: A thriller in the SEC.
- Harvard 24, Cornell 17: The Crimson bounce back after losing to URI.
- Bridgewater State 21, Plymouth State 17: The Bears stay perfect at home.
LAST WEEK: 3-2 | SEASON TOTAL: 18-7