WESTFIELD, Mass. – Junior quarterback Mike McCarthy rushed for 93 yards and threw for 133 yards and two touchdowns to lead the big-play Bridgewater State University Bears to a 26-14 victory over Westfield State University on Saturday, Sept. 29.
The Bears bolted to a first-half 23-0 lead on three long scoring strikes. McCarthy began the scoring with 6:50 remaining in the first quarter when he found receiver Nick Pistacchio wide open down the middle of the field for a 66-yard touchdown.
After Brian Smith's 34-yard field goal with 2:00 remaining in the first quarter, the Bears' backup quarterback Caleb Gelsomino rifled a 60-yard scoring strike down the right sideline to Jake Scott that pushed the lead to 17-0 early in the second quarter.
McCarthy (7-14, 133 yards) and Gelsomino (8-13, 148 yards) played well in their alternating role behind the center as they combined to complete 15 of 27 passes for 281 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
McCarthy increased the lead to 23-0 (the PAT was no good) with 4:06 left in the first half when he hooked up with Matthew Green for a 27-yard scoring strike that capped a short-field drive of 40 yards.
Westfield had 107 total offensive yards in the first half, 69 coming on its final drive of the half when sophomore running back Michael Mercadante capped the 10-play march with a one-yard touchdown run on fourth down. The big play in the drive was a 28-yard screen pass reception by Mercadante to the Bear four-yard line.
Westfield outscored Bridgewater, 7-3, in the second half, and the Owls had two drives halted deep in Bear territory by interceptions as Bridgewater turned to its defense for big plays in the final two stanza.
Following a 28-yard field goal by Smith that increased the lead to 26-7, the Bears came up with its first big defensive stop when Vincent Henry intercepted a pass at the Bridgewater one-yard line to halt a Westfield scoring threat.
Early in the fourth quarter, Bridgewater made its second big defensive stop when David Silvia intercepted a pass at the five-yard line on a second down from the six.
Westfield finally converted in the red zone when freshman quarterback Erik Washburn scored from one yard out with 2:16 remaining in the game to cap a six-play, 34-yard drive.
The Owls made things interesting when Gregg Jackson recovered the onsides kick at the 50, but Westfield's comeback drive stalled at the Bridgewater 25 with 1:29 remaining.
Both teams had success moving the ball through the air. Washburn, in his first collegiate start, completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards but he threw four interceptions, including two in the first half.
Bridgewater, meanwhile, had a balanced attack with 195 net yards rushing for a total of 476 in total offense. Westfield was held to 32 net yards rushing.
Led by McCarthy's 93 yards on 11 rushes (8.5 average), eight players carried the ball for the Bears, with Ben Desmarais the second leading ground gainer with 57 yards on 12 carries.
The Bears also displayed a balanced passing attack with seven players catching the ball. Scott (4-78) and Adam Ledoux (4-36) both had four receptions.
Senior receiver Kevin Parnell led the Owls with seven catches for 69 yards. Parnell also totalled 106 yards in returns, including a 56-yard kickoff return. Tight end Jeff Winchell had five catches for 70 yards.
Westfield senior linebacker Justin Ehrhardt posted a game-high 15 tackles (8 solos, 2 for losses) and forced a fumble. Sophomore linebacker Troy Cutter had 11 tackles.
Linebacker Alex Monteiro notched a team-high 12 tackles for the Bears, while Silva had 10 stops and his interception. Eddie Jewell had two first-half interceptions and down lineman Paul Melicharek contributed seven tackles, including four for losses.