WESTFIELD, Mass. – Senior running back Marcus Price scored the game-tying touchdown in the third and final overtime and rushed for 149 yards on 37 carries as Worcester State University held on for a wild 42-40 victory over Westfield State University on Saturday, Sept. 24.
The Lancers improved to 4-0 overall after surviving a Westfield State comeback in the New England Football Conference Bogan Division opener. The Owls, who rallied from a late 24-7 first-half deficit to tie the score 24-all at the end of regulation, are 1-3 overall.
Westfield took a 40-34 lead on the first possession of the third overtime on a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Justin Karrat, who appeared caught in the backfield but spun around, bounced off several would be tacklers and scored.
Westfield had to go for the two-point conversion in the third overtime and a pass to Karrat in the end zone was batted down by PJ Robinson.
On the Lancers' first play of the third OT stanza, Price made a brilliant 25-yard touchdown scamper, weaving his way thru several defenders down the left side. Backup quarterback Corey Spencer then threw to a wide open Dana Barry in the left corner of the end zone for the game-ending two-point conversion.
After both teams booted short field goals in the first overtime, Barry put the Lancers ahead, 34-27, on the first possession of the second overtime when he out jumped Owl defensive back Erik Wellhoff in the right corner of the end zone on a straight fade pass by Spencer from 21 yards.
Westfield knotted the score in the second overtime on outstanding 12-yard touchdown pass-run play by tight end Jake Storey, who caught the ball at the six and carried three Lancers with him across the goal line.
The most sensational play in this game of thrills was a school-record 89-yard touchdown fumble return by Owl senior strong safety Ryan O'Connell that tied the score at 24-all with 2:24 remaining in regulation.
The Lancers appeared to have the game wrapped up after Spencer and Barry hooked up for a 64-yard pass play to the Westfield 14 with less than three minutes left in fourth quarter. But on the next play Westfield defensive end Chris Walker forced a Price fumble and O'Connell scooped up the ball and raced down the left sidelines, outsprinting a Lancer the final 20 yards for the stunning score.
Worcester still had an opportunity to win the game in regulation as Derek Muccini's 42-yard field goal attempt was high and long enough but just outside the left upright.
Westfield trailed 24-7 with 2:09 remaining in the first half following a 26-yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback Tony Tokarz, who playing sparingly in the second half because of an injury, to AJ Scerra.
Westfield began its comeback when Kennan Startzell booted a 26-yard field goal with 39 seconds remaining in the first half. The field goal was set up when Westfield's Anthony Ranieri delivered a vicious hit on punt returner Richie Dube, jarring the ball loose at the Lancer 13 where the Owls' Nick Granger recovered the ball.
Westfield scored the only third-quarter points midway through the period on a 1-yard plunge by Michael Mercadante that capped a 13-play, 53-yard drive. This made the score 24-17 and set the stage for O'Connell's late-game heroics.
The Lancers led 10-0 after the first quarter on a 2-yard Price TD plunge that capped an 11-play, 83-yard drive and a Muccini 31-yard field goal.
Westfield made it 10-7, scoring early in the second stanza on a one-yard TD run by Brian Beauchemin to cap a 9-play, 64-yard drive. But the Lancers scored four minutes later on Tokarz's one-yard TD to make it 17-7.
Tokarz rushed for 43 yards and completed 7 of 14 passes for 86 yards in just over one half of action Spencer completed 4 of 9 passes for 107 yards and had 32 yards on four carries, including a big first-down run of 13 yards in overtime. Scerra led the Lancer receivers with five catches for 62 yards followed by Spencer (3-91).
Westfield quarterback Tyler Dow completed 17 of 31 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown. Mercadante and Beauchemin rushed for 57 and 42 yards, respectively. Tight end Jeff Winchell had five catches for 48 yards and Kevin Parnell had four catches for 115 yards, including a brilliant 76-yard pass-run play in the second half.
Cameron Jones led the Lancers with a team-high 11 tackles, including nine solo stops. Andrew Tokarz posted nine tackles and Josh Key returned an interception 46 yards that set up Worcester's first-half field goal.
Westfield linebacker Dan Dowling recorded a game-high 12 tackles and also punted four times for a 41.0 average. Walker racked up nine tackles from his end position and had a sack and forced fumble.