BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. -- Senior linebacker Walter Butler (Bourne, Mass.) registered seven total tackles, including a pair of sacks, and returned a fumble 48 yards for a touchdown as Massachusetts Maritime forced nine turnovers in notching a 34-6 New England Football Conference Bogan Division victory in the 39th Annual Admiral's Cup contest played Saturday afternoon at Clean Harbors Stadium.
The host Buccaneers (5-2, 3-2 NEFC Bogan) reclaimed the Admiral's Cup from the visiting Mariners (4-3, 2-3 NEFC Bogan) for the first time in eight years with the triumph, and in the process clinched their first outright winning season since 2000 while matching their win total from a year ago. Maine Maritime turned the ball over on its first three possessions of the day, and Massachusetts Maritime capitalized with a pair of scores that came in a 15 second span in the opening stanza. A bad Mariner snap on a punt attempt was scooped up by Buccaneer freshman Victor Andrade (Yarmouthport, Mass.) and returned 17 yards for his first career touchdown with 5:11 to play in the first quarter, and Butler forced and returned a fumble 48 yards on the ensuing visitors' possession to extend the hosts' advantage to 13-0 after 15 minutes.
Maine Maritime sliced its deficit in half just 2:55 into the second stanza, as sophomore Ian Champeon's (Dover-Foxcroft, Maine) 40-yard scamper capped a seven-play, 77-yard drive that cut the Massachusetts Maritime lead to 13-7, but the Buccaneers responded with a seven-play, 58-yard drive that was capped by junior Barry Reopell's (South Dennis, Mass.) four-yard run with 8:41 remaining in the half to extend their edge to 20-6. Butler forced his second fumble of the day with 1:48 to play before intermission at the Mariner 45-yard line, and sophomore quarterback Mike Stanton (Quincy, Mass.) capitalized on the third play of the drive with a 42-yard scoring strike to fellow sophomore Keith Caruso (Hingham, Mass.) for a 27-6 lead at the break for the hosts, who forced seven turnovers (six fumble recoveries) in the opening 30 minutes of action. Neither team was able to generate scoring chances in the second half until late in the contest, as the final Maine Maritime fumble of the day that was forced and recovered by junior Sean Carver (Summerfield, Fla.) resulted in an 11-yard touchdown run by senior Matt White (Westwood, Mass.) with 1:54 remaining that capped the scoring for the afternoon.
Maine Maritime, which ranked second nationally in Division III in rushing yards per game (355) entering the Admiral's Cup, was held to just 211 yards on the ground by Massachusetts Maritime, which tied the school record for most recovered fumbles in a game. The Buccaneers amassed 232 yards of total offense (144 through the air), as the two teams combined for 261 passing yards for the contest, the highest mark in an Admiral's Cup in over a decade. White and Reopell combined for 94 yards to go with their touchdowns for the hosts, as Stanton completed just 9-of-21 attempts, hooking up with Caruso five times for 103 yards to go with their score.
Senior Nick Bourassa (Jay, Maine) rushed for 96 yards on 16 carries in the setback for the Mariners, who also received 80 yards from Champeon to go with 157 yards of total offense from sophomore quarterback Ben Violette (Waterville, Maine). Senior Nate Duford (Claremont, N.H.) hauled in six receptions for 62 yards for Maine Maritime, which averaged only 33 yards passing as a team heading into the game.
Senior Mike Bois (Lakeville, Mass.) paced Massachusetts Maritime defensively on Senior Day with a game-high 14 total tackles, including nine solo stops and a fumble recovery, as Butler finished the day with seven solo stops (including four tackles for losses of 16 yards), two forced fumbles to go with his touchdown return, a pair of sacks and two quarterback hurries. Carver added six total tackles, including a pair for losses of 12 yards, to go with a pair of forced fumbles and two recoveries as well as a sack for the Buccaneers, who also received seven tackles and two fumble recoveries from senior James Hutchinson (Pembroke, Mass.). Sophomore Sheldon Roper (Sharpsbury, Ga.) recorded his second straight 11-tackle performance (seven solo) for the hosts, who also received a pair of interceptions from sophomore Michael Sylvia (Lincoln, Mass.).
Freshman Michael Burgess (North Yarmouth, Maine) recorded six solo tackles, a sack and a pair of blocked kicks to pace Maine Maritime defensively, while juniors Brock Lawrence (Benton, Maine) and Joel Chadbourne (Westbrook, Maine) each added six solo stops for the Mariners, who also received seven total tackles (four solo) from senior Ryan Williams (North Yarmouth, Maine).
Massachusetts Maritime heads to Westfield, Mass. next Saturday afternoon to take on Westfield State in a New England Football Conference Bogan Division match-up that kicks off at 2:00 p.m., while Maine Maritime hosts Bridgewater State in a New England Football Conference Bogan Division outing next Saturday afternoon in Castine, Maine that kicks off at Noon.