Worcester, MA --- The Worcester State University defense forced seven turnovers highlighted by four interceptions for 113 yards by sophomore Graham Asum (Marlboro, MA) as the Lancers defeated Westfield State University, 30-18, in the opening weekend of New England Football Conference Bogan Division play at Coughlin Field this afternoon.
With the win the Blue and Gold improve to 3-1 while the Owls slip to 1-3 with the loss.
Both defenses started off the game strong as Worcester State put the first points of the game up on the board on the contests fourth possession as freshman Erich Perfetti (Shrewsbury, MA) drilled a 37 yard field goal with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
Four drives came and went before the Owls added two points to their score with a safety as Worcester State's punter kicked the ball in his own end zone with 11:58 remaining in the second.
Towards the end of the second stanza, 21 points would light up the score board in a span of 69 seconds as Asum grabbed the first of his four interceptions returning it for a 52-yard score as the Lancers led 10-2 with 5:35 remaining in the half. Westfield State responded with the second play of their next series as senior Evan Bernache (Chicopee, MA) hauled in a 74-yard touchdown from junior Tyler Dow (Franklin, MA). The visitors went for two points to knot the score up 10-10 on a first-year Jeff Winchell (Scituate, RI) rush.
Worcester State capped off the outburst at the 4:24 mark as junior Tony Tokarz (Holden, MA) bombed a 52-yard scoring strike to classmate Kenny Russell (Bedford, MA) for the go ahead score. On the Owls next drive, Asum would grab his second interception, but Perfetti would end the half with missed field goal for the 17-10 Lancer lead at the intermission.
After both teams came out of the locker room for the third period, both defenses did a tremendous job of keeping both offenses out of enemy territory as Westfield State held the Lancers to two three-and-out drives and Asum ended a pair of Owl possessions with the last of his two interceptions.
On the sixth drive of the quarter, it was Worcester State who gave themselves some breathing room as Perfetti nailed a 24-yard field goal for the 20-10 lead with 2:58 left, set up by Asum's fourth snatch. As the Owls were intercepted a fifth time by sophomore Cameron Brigham (Worcester, MA/Burncoat) on their ensuing possession, the Lancers tacked on seven more points 92 seconds later for the 27-10 edge as Tokarz scampered for a 28-yard burst.
In the fourth, Westfield State would cut into the lead with a safety on a blocked kick at the two-yard line that rolled past the end zone with 10:22 left in regulation. After the Owls went three and out, the Lancers added three more points to the score on a 33-yard field goal by Perfetti.
With Worcester State in a prevent defense, Westfield State quickly scored as junior Dylan Smith (Worcester, MA/Burncoat) connected with sophomore Kevin Parnell (Berlin, CT) for a 12 yard touchdown (conversion failed).
Down 30-18 in the waning minutes, the Owls had one more chance inside the red zone to score, but the Lancers stopped them on fourth down to end the contest.
Tokarz propelled Worcester State offensively as he ended with 179 yards of total offense (121 passing – 58 rushing) and two touchdowns while junior Marcus Price (Worcester, MA/Doherty) had 19 rushes for a game-best 70 yards. Russell ended with four receptions for 77 yards and one score.
Westfield State would end the contest with 326 yards passing on 50 pass attempts. Dow was 13-for-25 with four interceptions as he finished with 179 yards while Smith was 12-for-25 with one pick as he amassed 147 yards as both quarterbacks threw one touchdown apiece. Bernache was the pair's favorite target as he caught eight passes for 110 yards while Parnell added 77 yards off five receptions.
Senior Tyler Russell (Princeton, MA) paced the Lancers on defense with a game-high 11 tackles (seven solo) which included two TFL, one sack and a forced fumble. Junior Cameron Jones (Stowe, MA) and classmate Joe Sweet (Walpole, MA) combined for 4.5 TFL and three sacks. Sophomore Adam Belliveau (Walpole, MA) and senior Yoseif Wolday (Boston, MA) would each collect six stops as they would both recover fumbles.
The Owls were led by sophomore Justin Ehrhardt (Stoneham, MA) who notched 10 tackles (eight assisted) and one sack while classmate Erik Wellhoff (Natick, MA) notched nine tackles (five solo). Senior Bryan Anderson (Stoneham, MA) also recorded one sack while freshman Greg Jackson (Wolcott, CT) intercepted Tokarz in the end zone.
Perfetti would end the game with 12 points as he was a perfect 3-for-3 on PATs and 3-for-4 on field goal tries. He would boot nine kickoffs for an average of 54.4 yards. Westfield State racked up 213 yards off kickoff returns as junior Andrew Hernandez (W. Springfield, MA) had four run backs for 118 yards and a long one of 48 yards.
While the Lancers finished the contest leading in the scoring column, it was the Owls who would finish with the advantage in total yardage (375-284), 272 coming in the final half. Both squads were almost even in time of possession while the visitors held the slight edge (31:55-28:05) while they were a combined seven for 33 on third downs.
Both squads continue NEFC Bogan Division action with 1 PM games on Saturday. Worcester State will make the trek up to Castine, Maine to face off against defending champion Maine Maritime while Westfield State entertains Bridgewater State.