WESTFIELD, Mass. – The Endicott football team rallied in the second half against Westfield State to spark a 45-24 victory over the NEFC Bogan Division Owls to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Blue and Green outscored Westfield State 31-7 over the final two quarters, including four straight touchdowns to end the game.
Endicott found themselves down 24-17 with 9:07 remaining in the third quarter, but three rushing touchdowns and a 35-yard strike in the air squashed Westfield State's hopes of a home upset over the defending conference champions.
The Gulls showed a balanced attack with senior running back Mike Lane (Medfield, Mass.) totaling 217 yards on 38 carries with a touchdown, fellow ball carrier Jared DiBiase (Cranston, R.I.) reaching the end zone twice, and senior quarterback Phil Konopka (Shelton, Conn.) throwing for two scores and 255 yards passing. Lane's effort marked the second time in his Gulls career that he has eclipsed 200 yards rushing in a single game. Against the Owls, he nearly bested his previous personal record of 222 yards set in 2010 against Western New England.
Konopka's targets on this day were sophomore wide out Mike Murphy (Chelmsford, Mass.) and senior receiver Mike Fimiani (Melrose, Mass.). Murphy had five receptions and a touchdown catch for the second week in-a-row, finishing today's game with 89 yards in the air. Fimiani went for four receptions, 78 yards and a touchdown against Westfield State.
Defensively, Endicott held the Owls to only 18 yards rushing on 24 attempts on the ground. Senior defensive lineman Kevin Eagan (West Hartford, Conn.) led Endicott with six tackles, including five solo takedowns and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Endicott as a team took down opposing ball carriers on seven different tackles for a loss of 22 yards.
Endicott's defensive backfield of sophomore Jason Silva (Maynard, Mass.) and senior Bill Hickey (Walpole, Mass.) once again created turnovers with each player recording an interception on Westfield State quarterbacks Tyler Dow (Franklin, Mass.) and Tommy Leung (Milford, Mass.).
The Blue and Green got on the board first early in the first quarter when DiBiase scored on 2nd and goal from the three yard line to put Endicott up 7-0.
Endicott held their seven-point advantage until the second quarter, when Westfield State would score after forcing a turnover to gain possession on the Gulls 33 yard line. Two plays later, Dow threw a 31-yard strike to Kane Terilli (Cranston, R.I.) to even the score at 7-7 at the 7:21 mark of the second quarter.
On the ensuing drive for the Gulls, Konopka would find Murphy for a 53 yard bomb to put Endicott back on top by seven. The Owls, however, responded with a 12-play, 51 yard drive that resulted in a seven-yard touchdown pass from Dow to Kevin Parnell (Berlin, Conn.) to knot the score once again.
Westfield State forced an Endicott turnover on downs on the next drive and gained possession the Gulls 40 with 44 seconds remaining. The Owls capitalized by getting a 21-yard field goal by Kennan Startzell (Rockland, Mass.) with one tick remaining on to take a 17-14 advantage going into halftime.
In the second half, a Dylan Rushe (Palos Verdes, Calif.) 28-yard field goal pulled Endicott even with Westfield State at 17-17 at the 9:55 mark of the third quarter.
Westfield State's next possession saw one of the biggest plays of the day as Terilli recorded a 73-yard reception to put the Owls on the Endicott one-yard-line. Owls running back Brian Beauchemin (Orange, Mass.) punched it in for the score, putting the home team up 24-17.
Endicott proceeded to rattle off 28-0 straight points to take complete control of the game. The Gulls first conducted a 14-play, 64 yard touchdown drive that ended with Konopka squeezing across the goal line for the QB-sneak. The score would be tied 24-24 with 3:47 to go in the third quarter after the Rushe extra point.
The Blue and Green then saw three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter on a 28-yard touchdown run by Lane, a 35-yard touchdown reception by Fimiani and DiBiase's second score of the day, a 17-yard run across the goal line with 49 seconds left in the game.
Endicott forced two fumbles in the game and recovered two. PJ Bandini (Waltham, Mass.) had his second forced fumble in as many weeks while Peter Kallas (Beverly, Mass.) forced his first one of the year.
Next Saturday, Endicott will host Fitchburg State at 1:00 pm at Endicott Stadium while Westfield State hosts Western New England.