SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--The Western New England University football team used a strong second-half to whip visiting Westfield State, 35-10, on Saturday at Golden Bear Stadium, giving Western New England its third Presidents' Cup trophy in a row. Both New England Football Conference teams are now 1-1 on the season after this non-conference contest of cross-divisional opponents. Western New England also improves to 6-2 in home openers under Coach Keith Emery.
The gametime weather was more exciting than a first half that featured a 21-yard Kennan Startzell Westfield field goal as the first half expired and stalled drives by both offenses. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for Western Mass before the 1 p.m. kickoff, as University athletic officials eyed the skies all afternoon for dangerous weather.
The second half was another story.
Western New England got on the scoreboard with 10 minutes and 38 seconds left in the third quarter when Dave Micu recovered a fumble at his own 16-yard line and returned it for an 84-yard touchdown. Then at the 6:52 mark, a John Krafick 9-yard pass to Andrew Walz helped the Golden Bears extend the lead to 14-3.
Krafick finished throwing for 230 yards on 19 of 34 pass attempts against no interceptions. His second TD pass was a 76-yard strike to Tucker Schumitz to open the scoring in the fourth, putting the Golden Bears up 21 to 10.
The Owls offense was led by Michael Mercadante who rushed for 82 yards on 23 carries, including a 1-yard plunge into the end zone with 1:48 remaining in the third quarter for their only touchdown of the day.
Western New England blew the game wide open by scoring its last two touchdowns thanks to excellent field position. Westfield punter Dan Dowling had back-to-back punts of 6 and zero yards against the wind deep in Owls territory and the Golden Bears capitalized. Kevin Cook and Alan Alvarez had scoring runs of 9 and 19 yards, respectively, as the two drives combined for only 11 plays for 27 yards.
Defensively, Alex Miller had three interceptions and five tackles to help Western New England limit Westfield State to 283 yards of total offense. Nathan Fleming added nine tackles, Nicholas Silvester and Greg Hanson had eight apiece, while Kevin Soule (8 tackles) and Alex Treschitta (7 tackles) combined for five sacks and 35 yards lost.
and Dowling led the Owls with eight stops each, as