WESTFIELD, Mass. – Junior receiver Phil Saint-Juste (6 catches, 166 yards, 2 touchdowns) and junior running back Steph'fon Teague (25 carries, 121 yards, 2 touchdowns) led Fitchburg State University to a 26-23 victory over Westfield State University in MASCAC football action on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Both teams are 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the conference. Fitchburg survived a late Westfield rally on Senior Day; it also marked the final home game for Westfield State head coach Steve Marino, who announced his retirement earlier this week after leading the Owls for 24 seasons.
Prior to Westfield's comeback attempt, Fitchburg had built a 26-15 lead on an 11-yard touchdown run by Teaugue with 6:42 remaining in the third quarter to cap a 4-play, 43-yard drive.
Westfield pulled to within three points, 26-23, on a 16-yard touchdown scamper by reserve running back Colby Bostek with 10:35 remaining in the game that capped a 14-play, 80-yard drive. Quarterback Tim Rich passed to tight end Jake Storey for the two-point conversion.
The Westfield defense then stiffened as Fitchburg failed to pick up a first down the remainder of the game. The Owls' final drive began with 5:47 remaining and they had a first and goal from the six-yard line following a seven-yard catch by senior receiver Kevin Nicol. A key play on the drive came when freshman punter Evan Hopson ran the ball on a fourth-and-two from the Westfield 45 and somersaulted past the first down sticks for a three-yard gain.
A pass interference penalty placed the ball at the 35, then Brian Beauchemin rumbled 15 yards on a pass-run play to the 20. After Bostek carried the ball for six years, Rich hooked up with Nicol for the seven-yard pass play.
On first and goal from the six, Beauchemin lost a yard rushing and a timeout was called with 1:02 remaining. Rich then threw an incomplete pass to an open Bostek in the flats. On third down, Rich was forced to throw the ball away on a quarterback hurry by Falcon defensive tackle James Veradt to bring up a four-and-seven situation.
Owl placekicker Michael Orellana attempted a 25-yard field goal from the right hash mark; the kick had plenty of distance but he pushed it to the right with 49 seconds remaining in the game.
After a scoreless first quarter, the teams erupted for 35 second-period points, including four touchdowns in the frantic final 2:18 of the first half.
The Falcons took a 6-0 lead on a five-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie to the 6-3, 200-pound Saint-Juste that capped a five-play, 80-yard drive. The big gainer was a 63-yard pass-run play by receiver Ty Spencer to the Owl five-yard line. The conversion kick failed.
Fitchburg increased its lead to 12-0 with 2:18 remaining in the first half on a two-yard TD run by Teague that capped a 10-play, 83-yard drive that was highlighted by a 56-yard pass-run play from Saint-Juste to the Owl two-yard line.
Westfield finally lit the scoreboard exactly a minute later on a 64-yard touchdown reception by senior receiver Kane Terilli, who tight-roped his way down the left sideline. Orellana, who was short on a 35-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter, booted the PAT for a 12-7 Fitchburg lead.
The Falcons wasted no time scoring, covering the field 80 yards in two plays for a 20-7 lead with 52 seconds remaining in the half, with Dellechiaie and Saint-Juste hooking up for a 61-yard touchdown reception. The tandem also completed the two-point conversion pass.
Westfield then drove 60 yards in five plays, scoring with four seconds remaining in the half. Rich rifled four straight completions, capped by a 17-yard scoring strike to Terilli. Troy Cutter ran for the two-point conversion as Fitchburg led 20-15 at halftime.
GAME NOTES: Westfield outgained Fitchburg in total offense, 423-416, and the Owls also led in first downs, 26-22. The Falcons, however, had 415 yards in total offense after three quarters and outgained the Owls on the ground, 145-111. Westfield has dropped its four games by a total of 12 points. The Owls lost a fumble for only the third time this season; Westfield still has not thrown an interception this year. Dellechaiaie completed 15 of 30 passes for 271 yards; he threw two interceptions and nearly had several other passes picked off in the second half. Rich completed 23 of 37 passes for 312 yards. In a key statistic, Rich was sacked five times. Nicol (9 catches, 103 yards), and Terilli (6-118, two TDs) again paced the Owls. Beauchemin rushed for 75 net yards on 24 carries, Bostek 8 for 59. Spencer caught five passes for 89 yards. Fitchburg linebacker Talib Barksdale posted a game-high 12 tackles and Elizear Torres had 10 tackles and two pass breakups. Marcus Pettigrew and Jonathan Lytle each had 10 tackles, including 6 solo stops, for Westfield. Four of Lytle's tackles were for losses, including a sack.