MIDDLETOWN, R.I. – Led by senior Shane Lange (Branford, Conn.) the Salve Regina University defense held Worcester State to just 173 total yards, including just 35 yards in the opening half, on their way to a 26-6 victory over the Lancers during the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) North-West Bowl at Gaudet Field on Saturday afternoon. It was the first ECAC Bowl victory for the Seahawks since the 1998 season, improving the team to 8-3 overall, which marks their best record since 1999.
Lange was named the game's Most Outstanding Player, compiling a team-high nine tackles and 2.0 sacks while applying consistent pressure throughout the contest. Senior A.J. Albert (Franklin Park, N.J.) also had a strong performance, recording eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, and three tackles for loss, while both Phil Terio (Trumbull, Conn.) and Joshua Burnett (Whitman, Mass.) had interceptions in the win.
Offensively, the Seahawks were paced by graduate student Rob LaRiviere-Tougas (Easthampton, Mass.) who ripped-off 146 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. In his very first collegiate start at quarterback, freshman Steven Wilken (Ringwood, N.J.) completed 8-of-11 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, while adding 52 yards on the ground. Before departing with an injury, freshman running back Dan Buonocore (Mahwah, N.J.) reeled-in a team-high three receptions for 50 yards, including the game's first touchdown, while freshman kicker Mark Moore (Hattiesburg, Miss.) connected on field goals attempts from both 35 and 29 yards.
The Lancers were led by tight end Casey Hippert (Douglas, Mass.) who had a game-high four catches and 79 receiving yards, while junior Graham Asum (Marlboro, Mass.) returned a kickoff 82 yards for Worcester State's only score of the day.
Defensively, sophomore Bryan Narcisse (Medway, Mass.) was everywhere for the Lancers, leading all players with 12 tackles while adding a sack and a fumble recovery in the loss. Senior Clifford Oratokhai (Worcester, Mass.) recorded nine stops, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and two forced fumbles, while both junior Josh Key (Putnam, Conn.) and senior Andrew Tokarz (Holden, Mass.) each had eight tackles on the day.
On the Seahawks' opening drive, they brought the ball down to the WSU 16-yard line. However, the Lancer defense rallied to push Salve Regina back to their 27-yard line, forcing a fourth and 22.
Opting to be aggressive early, the Seahawks went for it on fourth down, as freshman Steven Wilken (Ringwood, NJ) evaded several Lancer pass rushers and heaved the ball down to the end zone where freshman Dan Buonocore made an outstanding grab, leaping and tipping the ball to himself for the touchdown.
After the extra point by junior Brandon Deasy (Quincy, Mass.), Salve Regina grabbed the early 7-0 lead at the 10:06 mark in the first quarter.
The teams traded possessions before Salve Regina took over with the ball after stopping WSU on a fourth-and-short.
The drive brought the Seahawks down to the Worcester 12-yard line, but on a third down senior Ray St. Laurent (Shrewsbury, Mass.) sacked Wilken to force a field goal attempt. Freshman MarK Moore connected with the 35-yard kick putting the Seahawks ahead 10-0 with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
The Lancers next drive was cut short when senior Tony Tokarz's (Holden, MA) pass was tipped and intercepted by sophomore Joshua Burnett, giving the ball back to the Seahawks.
Salve Regina marched down the field on their next drive taking over five minutes off of the clock. However, a 14-yard sack by senior Cliff Oratokhai stalled the drive and forced a tough 43-yard attempt by Moore which was blown wide right by the gusting wind.
Freshman Zach Skerry (Milford, Mass.) recovered fumbles on two consecutive Salve Regina drives, but the Lancers offense, which gained just 35 yards in the first quarter, could not capitalize on the chances.
Salve Regina added to their lead with 26 seconds left in the first half when LaRivere-Tougas punched in his first touchdown, a two-yard rush, capping off an 11 play, 87-yard drive.
On the ensuing kickoff, junior Graham Asum broke several tackles on his way to an 82-yard touchdown return to put the Lancers on the board and cut the Salve Regina lead to 16-6 entering the intermission.
The Lancers started with the ball to begin the third quarter and moved into Salve Regina territory, down to the Seahawks 31-yard line. On a fourth and one, the Seahawks defense proved tough and stopped senior Marcus Price (Worcester, Mass.) short of the line, turning the ball over on downs.
For the game, theSeahawk defense held the Lancers to 0-for-3 on fourth-down conversions andjust 2-for-15 on third downs.
After a scoreless third stanza, WSU had a chance to cut into the SRU lead at the 11:48 mark in the fourth, but sophomore Derek Muccini (Upton, Mass.) pushed a field goal attempt into the strong winds wide left.
The Seahawks then all but sealed the win when LaRiviere-Tougas broke away for a 32-yard touchdown run, breaking tackles and bowling over defenders as he rumbled into the end zone with just 6:47 remaining in the quarter.
On their next drive, the Seahawks added a Moore field goal with 5:22 remaining, pushing the score to its eventual final, 26-6.
Salve Regina outgained Worcester State in total offense 332-173, including a 250-55 edge in rushing yards.