Worcester, MA --- Paced by Bridgewater State freshman Blaise Branch's (Brockton, MA) 201 rushing yards, the Bears would roll out 336 rushing yards en route to a 34-23 triumph over Worcester State in NEFC Bogan Division action this evening.
BSU improves to 4-2 overall while the Lancers slip to 5-2 for their second straight defeat. Both squads even out to 2-2 in Bogan Divisional play. Bridgewater State is 16-10 in the all time series and with tonight's win they have earned the victory in seven consecutive matchups dating back to the 2004 season.
Sophomore Mike McCarthy (Edgartown, MA) also added 54 yards on the ground and 52 in the air as he rushed and passed for a score. Classmate Chris Constantine (Hingham, MA) finished with 124 all-purpose yards – including four receptions for a team-best 54 yards and eight rushes for 29 yards.
Senior Tony Tokarz (Holden, MA) paced the Blue and Gold as he was 15-of-33 with two touchdowns, two interceptions and 207 passing yards. His top target was sophomore AJ Scerra (Marlboro, MA) as he hauled in six passes for 102 yards and a score.
Fourth-year Marcus Price (Worcester, MA/Doherty) was seven yards shy of his seventh straight 100-yard rushing game as the leading back for the Lancers entered the game leading Division III in rushing yardage. Price, however, did move up on the all-time rushing list as he is now only 274 yards away from becoming WSU's all-time leading rusher and he has 1,030 yards on the season.
Worcester State opened the games scoring with a 10-play, 56-yard drive which featured a 32-yard return by junior Graham Asum (Marlboro, MA) and culminated in a five-yard touchdown flick from Tokarz to senior Kenny Russell (Bedford, MA) at the 10:40 mark in the opening quarter.
The Bears would respond and get all the way into the Lancers red-zone before they were held to a fourth-and-out on the WSU 19.
After Worcester State stalled on their next possession, the visitors knotted the score 7-7 on a six-yard run by Constantine as they were set-up by a 40-yard rushing burst by Branch.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Bears forced a fumble and quickly made the score 14-7 on a McCarthy 27-yard scoring strike to junior Jake Scott (Somerset, MA) to begin the second quarter.
The Lancers were unsuccessful on their next series as Bridgewater State would score again on a seven-yard scamper by Branch with 14:02 left in the second half for the 20-7 edge (kick failed). BSU's key plays were a 23 yard reception by Constantine and a fourth-and-three by senior Justin Fuller (Somerset, MA).
After Worcester State was then held inside their own territory the Bears looked to add to their lead, but the Lancers forced a turnover on a forced fumble by senior Andrew Tokarz (Holden, MA) while senior Ray St. Laurent (Shrewsbury, MA) added the recovery.
The miscue set the table for a five-yard touchdown reception by Scerra as the hosts trimmed into the lead.
On BSU's ensuing drive, the Bears would see their advantage evaporate as sophomore Matthew Begley (E. Bridgewater, MA) blocked a punt which was returned seven yards for a score by Asum for the 20-20 draw at the intermission (PAT blocked).
There were only two complete drives in the third quarter. Bridgewater State, who had won the toss and differed for the first possession of the second half, marched down into Lancer territory on a 15-play, 54-yard drive that lasted 7:33. But the visitors came up empty as freshman Jarred Diorio (Kingston, NH) missed a 30-yard field goal attempt.
With the ball on their own 20-yardline the Lancers drove into BSU territory, due in large part to a 37-yard reception by Scerra on third-down, but the Bears would force four consecutive incompletions to keep the game knotted.
Bridgewater State strode into the Worcester State's 26 on a 45 yard drive, but it end on a missed field goal. Constantine had another clutch 20-yard reception to keep the drive alive on third and six and Bears would fail to score again on a Diorio field goal try that was kicked into the ground and returned by the Lancer defense.
On the next series, the Lancers finally broke the stalemate and made the score 23-20 on a 25-yard field goal by sophomore Derek Muccini (Upton, MA). Russell caught a pair of 21-yard receptions during the drive.
The Bears would respond and take the 27-24 edge on a one-yard touchdown by McCarthy as the visitors rushed 12 times for 60 yards without a pass – including a six-yard scamper by Fuller on fourth and one.
With 5:04 remaining the Lancers looked to be in good position at midfield, but Tokarz was picked off by junior Vincent Henry (Middleboro, MA) on a ball that was intended for Russell, but Henry caught the tip in the air.
The interception proved to be a key play as the Bears would chew up nearly three minutes off the clock and make it a two-possession game on a 39-yard double reverse touchdown by Scott.
Worcester State ran the two minute drill and got into BSU's red zone, but the contest would end on an interception for a touchback by junior Bryan Smith (Lowell, MA).
St. Laurent led all players with a career-best 14 tackles (seven solo) that included one sack. Andrew Tokarz added 12 (nine solo) for the Lancers as junior Bryan Narcisse (Medfield, MA) chipped in with 11 stops including three tackles for a loss.
Junior Alex Monteiro (Portsmouth, RI) and senior Mike Nazzo (Boxford, MA) shared team-high honors for Bridgewater State with six tackles apiece.
The Bears piled up 429 yards of total offense compared to 309 for the Lancers. Worcester State, who was 28th nationally in rushing yardage (228.1 YPG) were held to a season-low 102 yards. BSU also dominated time of possession (39:47-20:13).
Asum would snatch his 10th interception for Worcester State as he is now tied for seventh with three other players on the all-time list.
Worcester State looks to end their skid with a road contest on Saturday at Coast Guard at noon. Bridgewater State will play Fitchburg State next weekend at 1 PM.