BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. - Senior Evan Berneche (Chicopee, Mass.) rushed for 158 yards on 38 carries and one touchdown to lead Westfield State to a 28-14 New England Football Conference Bogan Division victory over Massachusetts Maritime Saturday afternoon at Clean Harbors Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30.
The visiting Owls (4-5, 3-3 NEFC Bogan) converted two of their four forced turnovers into touchdowns on the day, as Berneche scampered in on the ensuing play with 8:30 remaining in the first quarter after sophomore Justin Ehrhardt (Stoneham, Mass.) forced a fumble at the host Buccaneers' (4-5, 3-3 NEFC Bogan) 12-yard line.
Massachusetts Maritime evened matters with 1:54 to play in the opening stanza when freshman quarterback Mike Stanton (Quincy, Mass.) connected with sophomore Jonathan Emond (Marshfield, Mass.) on a 40-yard touchdown pass, but junior Justin Karrat (Ashland, Mass.) returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to set up his own 10-yard scoring run on the opening play of the second quarter for a 14-7 Owl advantage.
The Buccaneers once again tied the score after an errant snap on a Westfield State punt attempt set the hosts up deep inside the visitors' territory, as junior Nathan Sherr (Lynnfield, Mass.) plunged in from two yards out on the ensuing play, but the Owls took the lead for good on their next possession when junior quarterback Tyler Dow (Franklin, Mass.) connected with freshman Jeff Winchell (Scituate, R.I.) on a 10-yard touchdown pass and a 21-14 advantage at the break.
Junior Ryan O'Connell (Athol, Mass.) provided some insurance for Westfield State with 4:45 remaining in the third quarter when he returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown (one of three Owl picks of the afternoon) to account for the final score.
Berneche added two receptions for 32 yards to finish with 190 all-purpose yards in the triumph for Westfield State, as Dow threw for 59 yards as part of 186 yards of total offense for the Owls.
Sherr and junior Matt White (Westwood, Mass.) combined for 131 rushing yards in the setback for Massachusetts Maritime, as Stanton threw for 159 yards but matched his career-high with three interceptions on the day. Emond and junior Kyle Rowe (Plymouth, Mass.) combined to haul in seven receptions for 135 yards for the Buccaneers.
Ehrhardt paced Westfield State defensively with 12 total tackles, including 11 solo stops, to go with his forced fumble, while senior Keith Bateman (Watervliet, N.Y.) added eight solo tackles, including a pair of sacks and four tackles for losses of 19 yards. Senior Dave Jolicoeur (Wilbraham, Mass.) and sophomore Dan Dowling (Stoneham, Mass.) joined O'Connell with an interception each for the Owls, as Karrat gave the visitors good field position on a pair of scoring possessions with 91 yards on kickoff returns for the afternoon.
Senior Peter Avitabile (Sagamore Beach, Mass.) paced Massachusetts Maritime on the defensive side with 10 total tackles, including seven solo stops, while sophomore Danny Valdez (Fernandina Beach, Fla.) added eight total tackles, including six solo stops. Freshman Sheldon Roper (Sharpsbury, Ga.) added five tackles and a pair of sacks for the Buccaneers, who also received senior Andy Hirko's (Uxbridge, Mass.) ninth career interception in the setback.
Massachusetts Maritime closes out its 2010 schedule next Saturday afternoon by hosting Bridgewater State in the 32nd Annual Cranberry Bowl Presented By Ocean Spray that kicks off at Noon at Clean Harbors Stadium, while Westfield State entertains Fitchburg State in its 2010 New England Football Conference Bogan Division finale next Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field in Westfield, Mass. beginning at noon.