Bridgewater State Captures 33rd Annual Cranberry Bowl, 38-35

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BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Sophomore quarterback Mike McCarthy (Edgartown, Mass.) racked up 246 yards of total offense and threw for a pair of touchdowns to lead the Bridgewater State University football team to a 38-35 victory over Massachusetts Maritime Academy in the 33rd Annual Cranberry Bowl presented by Ocean Spray on Saturday afternoon at Swenson Field.

The Cranberry Scoop returns to Bridgewater after a one year absence.  The Bears now lead the series, 24-8-1, and have captured the "Scoop" 22 of the last 24 years.

Winners of five straight games, Bridgewater State ends the regular season with a record of 7-2 including a 5-2 mark in the NEFC Bogan Division.  The Bears will await word on a possible ECAC Bowl game bid.  Mass. Maritime wraps up the 2011 campaign at 5-4 overall and 3-4 in divisional play.

McCarthy was named the Lee Harrington Most Valuable Player of the Cranberry Bowl as he completed 10 of 14 passes for 136 yards and added an additional 110 on the ground on just 15 carries. 

McCarthy connected with junior wideout Jake Scott (Somerset, Mass.) on a 20-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring with just 1:46 gone in the first quarter.  The Bears took advantage of good field position on the drive as junior cornerback Vincent Henry (Middleboro, Mass.) picked off a Maritime pass on the very first play from scrimmage.  The ensuing extra point however was wide right.

The Buccaneers were just as opportunistic later in the period as freshman Victor Andrade (Yarmouthport, Mass.) blocked a punt and senior Walter Butler (Bourne, Mass.) returned the block 43 yards down to the BSU five.  After a holding penalty and an incomplete pass, MMA sophomore quarterback Mike Stanton (Quincy, Mass.) found freshman receiver Jonathan Wright (Newburyport, Mass.) in the end zone from 15 yards out to tie the score.  Senior kicker Jake Bickley (Wilbraham, Mass.) converted the extra point to give Mass. Maritime the 7-6 lead.

Bridgewater went three and out its next possession, but senior punter Mike Pettus (Concord, Mass.) pinned the Buccaneers back at their own one-yard line with a 55-yard punt.  Three plays later, it was Mass. Maritime booting the ball away, giving the Bears outstanding field position at the MMA 27-yard line.  BSU took advantage two plays later as junior quarterback Caleb Gelsomino (North Scituate, R.I.) hooked up with Scott on a 22-yard scoring strike to put Bridgewater back out in front, 13-7, early in the second quarter.

Mass. Maritime would reclaim the advantage just 41 seconds later as they marched 56 yards on just five plays capped off by a Barry Reopell (South Dennis, Mass.) 30-yard touchdown scamper.

The score remained 14-13 in favor of the Buccaneers until the closing minutes of the first half.  Following a Bickley 43-yard punt, the Bears took over on their own 28 with 2:16 remaining.  Bridgewater moved the ball down to the MMA 11 with the key play being a McCarthy 40-yard pass to junior receiver Nick Pistacchio (Johnston, R.I.).  Two runs and two timeouts later, the Bears were staring at third and four from the Maritime five-yard line with just 19 ticks left on the clock. A pass interference penalty in the end zone gave BSU the automatic first down and senior running back Justin Fuller (Berkley, Mass.) punched it in from two-yards out to give Bridgewater a 20-14 halftime lead.

BSU opened the second half with an eight-play, 73-yard drive resulting in an eighth-yard Fuller touchdown run.  The Bears kept the ball on the ground for all eight plays with Fuller and McCarthy combining for 60 yards on the drive.  Junior Ben Desmarais (South Hadley, Mass.) ran in the two-point conversion to put Bridgewater up by two scores, 28-14. 

That lead would quickly evaporate, however, as the Buccaneers used a 30-yard kick return by Reopell on the ensuing possession to take over on the BSU 47.  A 15-yard Matt White run and a 31-yard pass from Stanton to junior wideout Jonathan Emond (Green Harbor, Mass.) gave MMA first and goal from the one.  White plunged in from a yard out on the next play to cut the deficit to 28-21.

Mass. Maritime junior defensive lineman Sean Carver (Summerfield, Fla.) picked off a Gelsomino pass on the Bears' next possession and returned the interception 21 yards to the BSU 35.  Three plays later, Wright made a sensational diving touchdown catch on a 20-yard pass from Stanton to even the game at 28-28 with 5:36 left in the third quarter.

Bridgewater answered right back as the Bears put together a ten-play, 72-yard drive capped off by a McCarthy eight-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Chris Constantine (Hingham, Mass.) on third down late in the quarter.  McCarthy rushed for 25 yards on the drive and also converted a third and eight play on the MMA 27 with a 15-yard completion to Scott.

After forcing a punt, Bridgewater moved the ball 66 yards on 11 plays and ate up over six minutes of the fourth quarter clock.  The drive stalled at the Maritime 17-yard line, but freshman kicker Jarred Diorio (Kingston, N.H.) delivered a clutch 34-yard field goal to give the Bears a 38-28 lead with 6:11 left to play. 

The Buccaneers would not go quietly as Stanton led them on a 86-yard, two-and-a-half minute drive capped off by Emond's 31-yard catch and run to the end zone.  Mass. Maritime forced a three and out on the Bears' ensuing possession, but Bridgewater was helped out by a favorable bounce on a Pettus 49-yard punt.

Taking over on their own 26 with 2:24 remaining and just one timeout, Mass. Maritime moved the ball down to the Bridgewater 33 thanks to a 15-yard Keith Caruso (Hingham, Mass.) reception on fourth and ten and a Caruso 27-yard catch on third and 11 which kept the drive alive.  On third and eight from the BSU 31, sophomore defensive end Tate Doehler (Lakeville, Mass.) came up with a big eight-yard sack which forced MMA to use their last timeout on fourth and 16..  An 11-yard reception by Emond was well short of the first down and Bridgewater took over and ran out the final 35 seconds. 

Stanton finished 18 of 3,me3 in the air for 230 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.  Emond caught five passes for 107 yards and a score, while Wright had three catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns.

Along with McCarthy's big day running and throwing, Fuller added a game-high 125 rushing yards to go along with two touchdowns, while Scott finished with six catches for 79 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Constantine rushed for 36 yards on five carries and caught two passes for 17 yards and a score.

Fuller moved past Dung Nguyen (1991-94) into sixth place on the Bears' all-time rushing list.  Fuller has amassed 2,261 yards on the ground in 22 career games.

The Bears outgained the Buccaneers by a margin of 452 yards to 311 including a 278-81 edge on the ground.  Bridgewater also dominated in time of possession holding onto the ball for 38 minutes and 35 seconds, and converted 6 of 13 third down plays (1-for-1 on fourth down).

Junior linebacker Justin Cruz (Dartmouth, Mass.) paced Bridgewater defensively with eight solo tackles including two for loss and a sack.  Sophomore linebacker Dillon Huber-Parker (Longmont, Colo.) added five solo stops with two for loss, while Doehler and junior linebacker Alex Monteiro (Portsmouth, R.I.) chipped in with four solo tackles a piece with three of those going for loss.

Senior linebacker Mike Bois (Lakeville, Mass.) led all players with 11 tackles (seven solo) to go along with a sack.  Sophomore defensive back Stefan Gustafson (Plymouth, Mass.) notched nine tackles (eight solo), while junior defensive lineman Kevin Griffin (Worcester, Mass.) registered eight stops (seven solo) with two for loss.

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