Osol, Wind Lift UMass Dartmouth to 9-7 Win at Nichols
Osols and the Corsairs took advantage of 25 mph winds from the Northwest to hit a pair of field goals in the second quarter to cut the Bison's lead to one by halftime and then drove 63 yards on 17 plays while eating up over nine minutes of the fourth quarter with the wind at their backs to plant the final score with 1:22 remaining in the game.
Bison junior safety Mike Rubalcaba (Barre, Vt.) picked off Corsairs' quarterback Patrick Orlando (Manchester, Mass.) on the visitors' opening drive and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown to give the Bison an early lead. Bill Crory's (Townsend, Mass.) kick with the wind put Nichols up, 7-0, just 3:02 into the game.
A pair of sacks forced the Corsairs to punt on their next possession, where the Bison drove 62 yards back to UMD's 20 yard line, but were stopped short on 4th and two with 18 seconds left in the quarter.
The Corsairs started the second quarter on their own 40 yard line and drove to the Nichols 16 with the aid of a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty – part of 59 yards assessed to the Bison on the day. After holding the Corsairs to the line, including a sack by senior DE Jon Merjuste (Norwich, Conn.), Osols hit his first field goal of the day, a 36-yard boot.
Osol's kickoff set up Nichols at its own 13, but a fumble at the Bison's 28 put the Corsairs in good position for their next score, needing just three plays and 54 seconds after Darrien Furr's (East Taunton, Mass.) recovery for Osol to bring the visitors within one, 7-6, with 9:35 left in the half.
Nichols charged ahead on its final possession of the half, logging 39 yards on 11 plays, but Furr intercepted the ball at the Corsairs' two yard line and ran it back 32 yards to close out the stanza.
Play hovered around midfield for the bulk of the third quarter until the Bison broke through to the UMD 31 to set up a field goal attempt, but sophomore LB Jack Brown (Milton, Mass.) blocked the Bison's attempt by sophomore Cody Jankins (West Brookfield, Mass.).
Furr recovered a Nichols fumble at the Corsairs' 44 to start the fourth quarter, but on the next play, the visitors fumbled and Jon Merjuste picked it up to send the offense back on the field at the UMD 46 after just four seconds ran off the clock.
Matt Bryson (Pawtucket, R.I.) ran the ball 17 yards on five carries and with the addition of a Corsairs 15 yard penalty- part of 108 yards on the day – the Bison got to UMD's 46 but were stalled.
The visitors' big drive started there and the Corsairs converted three third downs and a crucial fourth and two at the Nichols 35 when Orlando broke two tackles and sprinted 10 yards down the far sideline. Osol's final 24-yard boot with 1:22 remaining capped the 9:12 drive.
Nichols started its final attempt at its own 14 and first year QB Justin Martin (Warwick, R.I.) completed passes of 12 and 13 yards to Mark Parker (Natick, Mass.) and Reggie Belizaire (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) before finding Parker twice more on short tosses to bring the Bison to the Corsairs 43. Nichols' final pass attempt at 4th and six came up incomplete.
Martin finished the day 12-for-19 for 77 yards with an interception, while Parker led the receiving corps with 50 yards on six catches.
Orlando completed five of 17 passes for 49 yards with one pick and logged 33 yards on the ground. Joining in on the rushing attach was Jason Hargrove (West Roxbury, Mass.), who led all rushers with 70 yards on 19 carries.
Both offenses were anemic with the two teams combining for 367 yards of total offense. Nichols led the way with 199 to UMD's 168.
Joe Teixera (Seekonk, Mass.) led the Corsairs defense with 10 tackles (six solo), while Furr had two fumble recoveries and a 32-yard interception return.
Senior LB Evan Greathead (Pepperell, Mass.) posted 12 tackles, 2.5 for a loss to lead the Bison. Jon Merjuste had eight tackles, 1.5 for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Nichols will look to get back in the win column on Saturday, October 23 in a 1 p.m. divisional matchup at Curry. UMass Dartmouth hosts Endicott at noon for a divisional game the same afternoon.