WESTFIELD, Mass. – Senior quarterback Matthew Rende (Augusta, Maine) rushed for 151 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead Maine Maritime Academy to a 36-34 double overtime victory over Westfield State University in a New England Football Conference Bogan Division game on Saturday, Oct. 8.
The Mariners, who rallied from a 14-0 deficit, improved to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Bogan Divison. The Owls dropped to 2-4 and 1-2. It was the second overtime setback in three weeks for Westfield, who lost at home to Worcester State in triple overtime, 42-40, on Sept. 24.
Rende turned in the biggest play of the game with 10:33 remaining in the fourth quarter. He ripped off a 74-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-one situation from the Mariners' 26-yard line. Rende broke thru the Owls' goal line defense and cut to his left, outracing a Westfield defender down the left sideline.
Rende's long run made the score 21-19 as the Mariners had an extra point blocked by Owl defensive end Chris Walker in the third quarter. Maine Maritime knotted the score at 21-all when fullback Tom Marcisso (Scarborough, Maine) rushed for the two-point conversion.
Maine Maritime had an opportunity to win the game in regulation but Michael Brennan's (Manchester, Maine) 36-yard field goal attempt was wide right with 4:53 remaining.
In the first overtime, the Owls took a 28-21 lead on a three-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Steve Guercio to tight end Jake Storey in the back of the end zone. Kennan Startzell remained perfect in PATs this season by splitting the uprights.
Maine Maritime tied the score at 28-28 on its first possession when Rende lofted a pass in the right flat to running back Nick Bourassa (Jay, Maine) for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Mariners had the first possession in the second overtime and scored on the first play when Rende scampered 25 yards, breaking several tackles, for a touchdown. In the all-important conversion attempt, the Mariners opted to go for two points. Marcisso bulled his way across the goal line from three yards out to make the score 36-28.
Westfield responded by scoring a touchdown on a 12-yard pass, rifled thru two defenders, from Guercio to Storey. The Owls were unable to convert the two-point conversion and Guercio lofted a pass to Justin Karrat in the right corner of the end zone that glanced off his fingertips.
The Owls started strongly, stopping the Mariners dangerous triple option while the Westfield offensive line opened huge holes for the running backs. Westfield opened the scoring on its first drive on a 51-yard touchdown run by freshman Michael Mercadante, who rushed for a game-high 186 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns.
Westfield took a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter on a 12-play, 55-yard scoring drive that was set up by a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Cam Green. Sophomore running back Brian Beauchemin, who finished with 65 yards rushing on 19 carries, scored from the two-yard line to make it 14-0.
Maine Maritime finally got its option clicking in the second quarter. Pinned inside their own one-yard line after Joey Shisler downed a Dan Dowling punt, the Mariners marched 99 yards in 18 plays, scoring on Bourassa's three-yard plunge with 3:57 left in the first half.
The Mariners scored midway through the third period when Bourassa capped a 10-play, 58-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run. The scoring drive started after Westfield just missed moving the sticks on a fake punt attempt and the Mariners took over on downs. Walker blocked the PAT as Westfield remained ahead, 14-13.
The Owls took a 21-13 lead late in the third quarter on a one-yard TD run by Mercadante. The seven-play 32-yard drive was set up by Erik Wellhoff's 13-yard interception return.
Westfield had its best rushing attack of the season, with 259 yards on 50 carries. Guercio completed 10 of 17 passes for 86 yards and two scores in his first collegiate start.
The Mariners racked up 359 yards rushing on 67 carries. Ian Champeon (Dover-Foxcroft, Maine) rushed for 116 yards on 26 carries and Bourassa had 75 yards on 15 totes.
Brock Lawrence (Benton, Maine) led the Mariners defensively with 10 tackles and an interception that thwarted an Owl scoring threat late in the first half. Alex Hermes (Fallsington, Pa.) also had 10 tackles. Westfield linebacker Justin Ehrhardt posted a game-high 12 tackles and strong safety Ryan O'Connell had nine tackles and an interception.
Maine Maritime returns to action next Saturday against Framingham State.