BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – The Bridgewater State University football team outlasted visiting Plymouth State University, 29-23, in two overtimes periods in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) game on Homecoming Saturday at Swenson Field.
The host Bears improve to 5-2 with their fifth straight win and remain unbeaten in MASCAC play with a perfect 5-0 conference mark. The Panthers fall to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the MASCAC standings. Despite the setback, Plymouth State still leads the all-time series, 17-13-1.
The game marked the first overtime contest at Swenson Field since the NCAA OT rule went into effect. This was also the third overtime game for Plymouth State this season and fifth over the last two seasons.
The Bears won despite turning the ball over six times (four interceptions, two fumbles).
Bridgewater bounced back from a 14-0 halftime deficit. A 29-yard touchdown pass from Danny Higgins to Jack Lavanchy got the Bears on the board with 6:17 remaining in the third quarter. Alex McLaughlin rambled in from a yard out just 66 seconds later to cut the deficit to 14-13 (the PAT was blocked).
Plymouth State answered with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Zack Edwards to Mitch Banuskevich to make it a 20-13 game later in the quarter. The Panthers tried for the two point conversion for the third straight time, but were unable to convert. The touchdown was set up by a 50-yard kickoff return by Blair Zentek.
The Bears strung together a 12-play, 66-yard drive in the fourth quarter capped off by a Malik Garrett two-yard touchdown run to pull to within one. Russell Bolarinho added the extra point to knot the score at 20-20.
Bridgewater had two chances to take the lead later in the quarter but fumbled the ball away twice.
In the first overtime, the teams exchanged clutch field goals with Bolarinho converting from 27 yards out, and Jeff Madden connecting from 26 yards away for the Panthers.
Dylan Anti came up with a key interception in the end zone on third down to stop the Panthers in the second overtime. Garrett won the game on a one-yard touchdown run on the Bears' ensuing possession.
Both of the Panthers' first quarter touchdowns came off turnovers. Following a Higgins interception, Plymouth drove 63 yards on 11 plays capped off by a Naquan Hall eight-yard touchdown run. The Panthers picked off another Higgins pass on the ensuing possession and moved the ball 42 yards on six plays with David Hamilton finding the end zone from six yards out.
Lavanchy led all player with career-highs of ten catches for 136 yards. Travis Bassett added six catches for 58 yards, while Garrett finished with four reception for 46 yards to go along with 44 rushing yards. McLaughlin ran the ball 22 times for 70 yards with no lost yards.
Higgins completed 24 of 41 passes for 273 yards and the touchdown, but was also picked off four times. Higgins added 26 yards on the ground.
Charles McCarthy led the BSU defense with ten tackles (six solo) and a forced fumble. A.J. Pascuzzo notched eight tackles (five solo) including one for loss and a pass breakup. Stephen Jacobs recorded seven tackles (four solo) with a sack, two tackles for loss and a blocked punt, while Elvis Romero checked in with five tackles (four solo) including three for loss and a sack.
Offensively for Plymouth State, Edward completed 8 of 17 passes with one touchdown and one interception. Banuskevich, Hamilton and Hall combined to rush for 108 yards and two scores.
Zentek led the Panthers' defense with seven tackles (six solo), an interception, a forced fumble and two recovered fumbles. RJ Ramsden notched a team-high nine solo tackles with one for loss, while Prince Gbaley had two of the four interceptions and also added four solo tackles. Joe Esposito was all over the stat sheet with an interception, blocked PAT, a forced fumble and six tackles (five solo) with a sack and two for loss.
The MASCAC schedule continues for both teams next Saturday. The Bears travel to Westfield State University to take on the Owls at noon, while the Panthers host defending conference champion Framingham State University at one.
Notes: Bassett increased his career totals to 112 catches and 1,684 yards as he moved into third place on the Bears' all-time receptions list and fourth on the all-time receiving yardage list....McLaughlin is now 11th all-time at BSU in rushing yards (1,931) and 12th in scoring (164 pts.).