Castine, ME – Junior running back Nick Bourassa (Jay, ME) ran for 156 yards and three scores but fullback Jim Bower (So. Paris, ME) stole the show as Maine Maritime ran to a 42-21 victory Saturday afternoon (October 9) over Westfield State University in a Bogan Division, New England Football Conference (NEFC) contest.
With 6:20 to go in the third quarter Jim Bower (22 rushes for 146 yards) ran the ball for 10 yards to the Westfield 1-yard line. With the rush, Bower became the third MMA running back in the programs storied history to surpass the 5,000-yard plateau for rushing yards in a career. Bower finished the game with 5,080, leaving him in 17th place on the DIII career rushing yards list, one place behind former Mariner running back Kirk Matthieu (5,107 yards).
With the win MMA improves to 4-1 and 2-1 in the Bogan Division while Westfield State drops to 2-4 and 1-2 in the Bogan Division.
Maine Maritime took a 7-0 lead on their first possession of the game when Nick Bourassa (15 yards per carry) ran the ball in from 15-yards out. The drive took just 2:46 off the clock and covered 61-yards. The Bourassa touchdown was set up by a 37-yard rush by Todd Murphy (Middlesex, VT).
MMA struck again just 1:21 later when linebacker Christopher Brawn (Winslow, ME) intercepted a Dylan Smith (Worcester, MA) pass and ran it back 56 yards for a touchdown. MMA missed the extra point but led 13-0.
After a three and out on MMA's next possession, the Owls had their first scoring opportunity of the day. Luke Johnson (So. Attleboro, MA) had five consecutive carries that brought Westfield State to the MMA 32-yard line before Dylan Smith threw his second pick of the day and was intercepted at the MMA 14-yard line by Dennis Michalos (Towson, MD).
Both teams remained scoreless until the Owls cracked the scoreboard at the 9:09 mark of the second quarter. The nine-play, 67-yard drive was capped off by a Luke Johnson (25 carries for 104 yards) 1-yard plunge to put the visitors within reach at 13-7.
The Mariners quickly answered going 64 yards on eight plays on their next possession. Nick Bourassa finished off the drive with a 10-yard run over the left tackle to put MMA back up b y two scores at 21-7.
The Owls once again turned to Johnson and threatened to score before another MMA interception. Johnson put the Owls in scoring position after a 27-yard run that left the Owls on the MMA 26 yard line. Smith went to the air again and was intercepted at the MMA four-yard line by Franklin Sawyer (Lisbon, ME).
On their next play from scrimmage Nick Bourassa took the ball 96-yards down the left sideline for the touchdown. The extra point attempt by Michael Brennan (Manchester, ME) was good and MMA took a 28-7 lead into halftime.
The third quarter began with interceptions by both teams, one by MMA's Christopher Brawn (2nd of the day) and one by Westfield's Gregg Jackson (Wolcott, CT). The Owls capitalized on their turnover and converted the interception into a Evan Bernache (Chicopee, MA) touchdown reception from Tyler Dow (Franklin, MA). The pass covered 18-yards and pulled the Owls to within 14 points and 28-14.
The Mariners responded once again on their next possession, after Alex Grant (Stratham, NH) recovered and attempt at an onside kick by the Owls, and ran it back to the Westfield 16 yard line. Three plays later, Bower broke the goal line for the first of his two touchdowns on the day, giving MMA the 35-14 lead.
Both teams exchanged scores in the fourth quarter with MMA getting a touchdown from Bower and then Justin Karrat (Ashland, MA) crossing the goal line from four yards out for Westfield State. The #1 scoring team in the nation (MMA) surpassed the 40 point mark for the 5th consecutive time this season and won the game by the final score of 42-21.
The Mariners came into the game as the #1 rushing offense in the nation and collected 435 more rushing yards on 62 carries. Tyler Dow led the Westfield passing offense with 180 yards in the air on 25 attempts and a touchdown but was hampered with three interceptions.
The Mariner defense gave up 383 yards of total offense but made big plays when they needed to. MMA tied a school record with six interceptions in the win. Joel Chadbourne (Westbrook, ME) led the Mariners with seven tackles, but Chris Brawn was the star on the defensive side of the ball, collecting five tackles and two interceptions on the day. Matt Pellerin (Leeds, ME) played well in the win, collecting five tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss.
The Westfield State defense was led by Justin Ehrhardt (Stoneham, MA) who collected 10 tackles in the loss. Dan Dowling (Stoneham, MA) was outstanding as well, collecting nine tackles with two of them being for losses.
The Mariners will be back in action next week when they travel to Framingham State for a 1pm kick-off. The Owls will be back in action next Saturday when they host the United States Coast Guard Academy.