SPRINGFIELD, Mass.-- Tucker Schumitz returned the opening kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown to set a school record, setting the tone for a Western New England University 50-14 victory Saturday over visiting Worcester State at Golden Bear Stadium in a cross-divisional matchup of New England Football Conference (NEFC) schools. Western New England won its second game in a row as Keith Emery becomes the Golden Bears winningest coach in the program's NCAA history. The Lancers, meanwhile, lost for the first time in three starts this season. Box Score
Schumitz's return was one of four scores made by the Golden Bears' special teams unit on the afternoon. His 99-yard return also is the longest of any play in the WNE record book, breaking the previous mark of a 98-yard TD interception by Philip Tsopanides versus Westfield State in 2010 and a 96-yard (TD) runback on a kickoff by Brian Luce against Curry in 2000. Nick Fox-Edele added field goals of 38 yards, 30 and 26.
The Golden Bears' defense did the rest, holding the NEFC's top rushing offense to just 37 yards on the ground--249 yards below its average after two games. The Lancers were also held far below its scoring average (42.0 ppg) and total offense (516 yards per game). Western New England linebacker Nathan Fleming led all players with 10 tackles, including four tackles for a loss of 18 yards and two sacks for 16. All told, WNE posted six sacks and three interceptions.
The defense got into the scoring knack as well, with Michael Graham returning an interception for 30 yards down the left sideline for a 24-7 lead in the second quarter and Andrew Treschitta rumbling 55 yards on a fumble recovery after sacking Corey Spencer for a 13-yard loss in the third. Graham also carried the ball four times for 18 yards.
Kemani Jones scored on a 1-yard plunge into the end zone to help Worcester State close within 10-7 with 1 minute and 40 seconds left in the first quarter. Jones also was on the receiving end of a 31-yard throw from Spencer with 33 seconds remaining in the first half. But in between, the Golden Bears took control of the game by scoring 17 unanswered points for a 27-14 lead going into the intermission.
Emery now owns a 41-33 record for a .554 winning percentage in eight seasons, surpassing Gerry Martin who won 40 games at the school from 1991 to 2004. Emery also becomes the first WNE coach ever to defeat Worcester State in five meetings.