BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – An 18-yard touchdown pass from Mike McCarthy (Edgartown, Mass.) to Matt Green (Stoughton, Mass.) with 1:16 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the host Bridgewater State University Bears a 26-20 Homecoming victory over the visiting Owls of Westfield State University in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) football matchup on Saturday afternoon at Swenson Field.
Bridgewater improves to 5-3 on the season and 4-2 in the MASCAC, while Westfield slips to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play.
Green caught seven passes for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns as he eclipsed Ben Bascon's (2004-05) BSU single-season receiving yardage mark of 1,067 yards set in 2005. Green now has 54 receptions on the season for an NCAA Division III leading 1,080 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also tied BSU Hall of Famer Andy Macaione's program mark of 15 receiving touchdowns set back in 1999.
McCarthy completed 16 of 21 passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 67 yards and another score despite getting injured on the Bears' first offensive play of the game.
Westfield used a dominating defensive performance in the first half to take a 13-7 lead at the intermission. Michael Orellana (Springfield, Mass.) booted a pair of first half field goals including a 32-yarder with just eight second lefts in the stanza. The Owls also took advantage of a bad snap on a punt to take over on the BSU one-yard line with under two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Colby Bostek (West Boylston, Mass.) punched it in from a yard out on the ensuing play to give Westfield a 10-0 advantage at the time.
The Bears only score of the half came on a McCarthy one-yard touchdown run which capped off a 15-play, 49-yard drive. Bridgewater converted on fourth-and-one three times during the drive which started at their own 49 after a short 22-yard punt.
Westfield held the Bears to just 34 yards of total offense and four first downs over the first 30 minutes with 49 yards and all four first downs coming on the one drive.
The Bears took a 14-13 lead on their second possession of the third quarter as McCarthy hooked up with Green on a 16-yard scoring strike. The touchdown was set up by a Mike Gentili (Leominster, Mass.) 40-yard catch and run on third and ten from the BSU 42.
After forcing a three-and-out and a short 21-yard punt, Bridgewater went right back to work starting on the Westfield 42. Eight plays later, McCarthy found a wide open Chris Constantine (Hingham, Mass.) in the end zone from six yards out to give the Bears a 20-13 lead with 1:54 remaining in the third quarter. The point after try, however, hit the left upright.
Westfield would come right back knot the score at 20-20 after recovering an onside kick at the BSU 49. The Owls put together a seven-play drive with Bostek carrying the ball six times for 43 yards capped off by an 18-yard TD run.
Gregg Jackson picked off a McCarthy pass in the end zone on the Bears' ensuing drive. The Owls responded by moving the ball 60 yards on eight plays before their drive stalled on the BSU twenty-yard line. Orelanna, however, missed wide right on a 37-yard field goal attempt as the score remained tied with 4:48 left to play.
McCarthy would methodically move the ball downfield on the game-winning drive as he rushed for 27 yards on four carries and completed 4-of-4 passes for 47 yards including the game-winning 18-yard strike to Green after Westfield had called timeout.
After a short kickoff, the Owls took over at their own 41 with just 1:10 remaining. A 20-yard pass from Tim Rich (Chelmsford, Mass.) to Kevin Nicol (Wolcott, Conn.) and a 15-yard pass interference penalty moved the ball down to the BSU 24 with 48 seconds left. The Bears, however, forced four straight incomplete passes to secure the dramatic Homecoming victory in front of a capacity crowd at Swenson Field.
The Bears would accumulate 230 yards of total offense and 13 first downs in the second half and finished with 264 for the game. Bridgewater held a slight advantage in time of possession for the game holding onto the ball for a little over 31 minutes. The Bears converted 6 of 15 third down plays and were 3-for-4 on fourth down.
Westfield did not turn the ball over for the fifth time in seven games this season. The Owls have turned the ball over just twice over the first eight games as they lead all of Division III in that category.
Dillon Huber-Parker (Longmont, Colo.) paced the BSU defense with seven tackles (five solo) including one for loss. Rob Ruggiero (Acton, Mass.) added six stops (four solo) and his team and MASCAC-leading 12th sack of the season.
Rich completed 9 of 22 passes for 131 yards. Brian Beauchemin (Athol, Mass.) led all players with 75 yards on the ground on 22 carries.
Troy Cutter (Lunenburg, Mass.) led the Owls with 11 tackles (eight solo) and one for loss. Greg Sheridan (Burlington, Mass.) chipped in with seven solo stops and Jonathan Lytle (Wallingford, Conn.) added six tackles (five solo) with a pair of sacks. Jackson notched six tackles (five solo) in addition to his end zone interception.
Notes: Green moved past Mark Hull (2002-05), BSU Hall of Famer Ron McCarthy (1979-92) and Bascon into third place on the Bears' all-time receptions list as he now has 90 catches in his career…Green also passed Rich Roath (1968-71) for fourth place on the Bears' receiving yardage list….McCarthy tied 2013 BSU Hall of Fame inductee Brenden Kavey (2002-05) for third place on the Bears' all-time rushing touchdown list with his 37th ground score.