Worcester, MA --- Senior Corey Spencer (Arlington, MA) was 29-for-39 with a season-best 414 passing yards and four touchdowns as he helped lead Worcester State to a 28-20 victory over Mass Maritime in NEFC Bogan Division football action this afternoon at Coughlin Field.
The Lancers run their record to 5-1 overall to equal last year's fast start as they are now 3-0 in divisional play. The Buccaneers slip to 2-3 and 1-2 versus competition in the seven-team circuit.
After losing each of the last three matchups to MMA, the Lancers improve their overall record to 18-9 against the Buccaneers.
Junior AJ Scerra (Marlboro, MA) was Spencer's favorite target as he gobbled up 12 receptions for 199 yards and three touchdowns – all of which were career highs. Sophomore Casey Hippert (Douglas, MA) also caught eight receptions for 118 yards and one score.
Sophomore Mike Dance (Rocky Hill, CT) and freshman DaShawn Taylor (Ayer, MA) both combined for 85 yards on the ground for the Blue and Gold
Third-year Mike Stanton (Quincy, MA) paced a strong air attack for the visitors going 33-for-57 with three touchdowns, but he also tossed away four interceptions. Stanton's attempts and completions were season-highs.
Senior Barry Reopell (S. Dennis, MA) was solid in the running game with 29 attempts for a campaign-high 166 yards and one touchdown. Junior Keith Caruso (Hingham, MA) and sophomore Bobby Rosano (N. Reading, MA) both hauled in eight passes each and combined for 171 yards.
Junior Matt Begley (E. Bridgewater, MA) did a little bit of everything defensively as he finished with 18 tackles (16 solo) to go with one sack and a forced fumble. Begley also had an interception at the 13-yard line in the third quarter helped put the Lancers in position for what proved to be the game-winning score.
Third-year Nick Doria (Watertown, MA) finished with 11 stops (eight solo) and classmate Bryan Narcisse (Medway, MA) added 10 (eight solo) to go with one sack. Junior Adam Straughn (Rockland, MA) was clutch with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and one blocked PAT.
Sophomore Kevin Stanton (Abington, MA) paced the Buccaneers with nine tackles (seven solo) and teammate Reynard Ortiz (Lowell, MA) was solid with seven tackles (five solo) and a forced fumble.
MMA senior Sean Carver (Summerfield, FL) distinguished himself with five solo tackles – two which were for a loss and one sack.
Defense stole the show early on as Mass Maritimes first drive ended inside the Lancer red zone before the hosts were held to one first down in their opening series.
The Buccaneers then marched down the field on a 14 play drive, but were denied when Begley forced a fumble to put Worcester State at midfield just before the end of the first quarter.
But MMA forced the hosts to turn the ball over on downs which helped put the visitors on the board on a 19-yard pass from Stanton to freshman Drew Girouard (Sagamore Beach, MA) at the 12:16 mark.
Following a Mass Maritime fumble recovery, the Lancers defense kept the score right where it was after a 10-play drive ended in a blocked 28-yard field goal by sophomore Michael Denis (Methuen, MA).
The play helped ignite the offense as the Lancers promptly knotted the score 7-7 on an 80-yard flick from Spencer to Scerra, who found some room on the left sideline at midfield, with 7:24 remaining in the half.
Mass Maritime then marched deep into their Worcester State territory, but they were once again denied with another defensive stop. On third and goal, sophomore Sean Hanley (Wilmington, MA) diagnosed the play and snatched the ball on the WSU two-yard line.
With 4:09 on the clock, Spencer ran a two-minute drill up the field and completed all seven of his attempts for 58 passing yards in a 98 yard drive which culminated in an 11-yard scoring strike to Scerra with 1:36 remaining to help give the Lancers the 14-7 lead at the half.
To start off the third, the Lancers picked up where they left off and made the score 21-7 on a 37-yard touchdown hookup between Spencer and Hippert, just 1:54 into the quarter.
Neither team scored on either of its next two possessions as both defenses stepped up to the challenge.
The Buccaneers failed to score on the Worcester State eight-yard line at the 9:43 mark and WSU did not take advantage of great field position at the Mass Maritime 25 with a pair of incomplete passes on third and fourth down with 5:15 left in the third.
To open the fourth, MMA freshman Mike Williams (Marshfield, MA) picked off Spencer at midfield, but the Lancers got the ball back five plays later when Begley seized the momentum with his second interception of the season.
In what proved to be an important play, the Lancers increased their lead to 28-7 on a nine play, 88-yard drive that was finished off on a 51-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass from Spencer to Scerra.
Playing from behind, Mass Maritime made a late push by scoring on their next possession on a four-yard scoring reception from Stanton to Girouard with 5:33 left to cut the lead in half (PAT blocked).
After the Buccaneer defense held WSU to a three-and-out, the visitors utilized a 75-yard drive to make the score a one-possession game on a three-yard touchdown rush by Reopell with 1:58 on the clock.
MMA did recover the onside kick, but Straughn ended the threat when he picked Stanton off nine seconds later.
Mass Maritime held the Lancers scoreless one more time to get the ball back, but the game ended inside the WSU 20-yard line on a long pass attempt by Stanton from midfield on Straughn's second interception of the contest.
With notable exception to passing yardage, the Buccaneers advantages in nearly every offensive category including total offense (615-503), rushing yardage (234-89), first downs (38-23) and time of possession (33:19-26:11).
The Lancers defense did a stellar job of minimizing the offensive chances in the later downs as they held MMA to just 12-for-22 on third downs (.545) and 2-for-7 on fourth down.
Spencer, who came into the game second in New England in pass efficiency (13th in the NCAA Division III), has now completed 69 percent of his passes this season. He is only 47 completions away from the single-season record with four games remaining.
Both squads continue their Bogan Division schedules next Saturday. The Lancers travel for a key 1 PM matchup against Bridgewater State while Mass Maritime hosts Fitchburg State at noon.