Beverly, Mass. – The Framingham State University football team fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter, but rallied for 28 unanswered points to defeat Endicott College 35-23 this afternoon on the road at Endicott Stadium in the season opener for both squads.
The Rams (1-0) came back from the early deficit on some key defensive plays and the offensive firepower provided by senior running back Melikke Van Alstyne (Salem, Mass.) and sophomore quarterback Matt Silva (Dracut, Mass.).
Van Alstyne, a Second Team Preseason All-American, ran for 214 yards on 38 carries with a crucial touchdown early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach for Endicott. Van Alstyne's efforts on the ground were critical in using the clock late in the game and setting up Silva's four touchdown passes, including two to sophomore wide out Travis Hayes (Framingham, Mass.). Silva finished 11-of-19 with 102 yards through the air while Hayes led the Rams with 31 receiving yards on four catches.
Endicott stormed out to a 14-0 lead just 5:17 into the first quarter by scoring on their first drive, a 22-yard touchdown pass from Gulls senior quarterback Ryan McLaughlin (Tomkins Cove, N.Y.) to junior receiver Nate Lewis (Acushnet, Mass.). The Gulls defense held Framingham State to three-and-out and the offense answered with their second score of the game, a McLaughlin touchdown toss to sophomore Alec Matys (Woburn, Mass.).
Framingham State responded on their next possession with a 58-yard drive that resulted in Silva's first touchdown to Hayes with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter.
After a stop on the defensive end for the Rams, Endicott was forced to punt and Gulls senior Dylan Rushe (Palos Verdes, Calif.) delivered a 50-yard punt that was downed inside the Framingham State five-yard line. Endicott's front seven stood firm deep in Ram territory and on 3rd-and-8, Framingham State fumbled backwards into their own end zone which forced a safety putting Endicott on top 16-7.
In the second quarter, Endicott drove deep onto Framingham State territory after 25 rushing yards from sophomore running back Spencer Walsh (Malden, Mass.) and a big 26-yard gain on 3rd-and-9 by senior tight end Greg Dellorco (Franklin, Mass.). The Gulls were on the four-yard line with a fresh set of downs, but Endicott, however, fumbled away possession on the very next play to end the threat.
Later in the second quarter, after McLaughlin was picked off by Framingham State's senior linebacker Sam Hill (Lynn, Mass.), the Rams pulled to within two points at 16-14 on Silva's second end zone connection with Hayes.
After the Rams defense forced another Endicott punt, Framingham State pulled off another scoring drive that was capped off by a Jaleel Wingard (Everett, Mass.) 14-yard touchdown reception with just 13 seconds left in the opening half giving Framingham State a 21-16 lead going into halftime.
Framingham State took 6:51 off the clock to open the third quarter and ended up in the end zone once again with Silva throwing a 14-yard pass to junior Jared Gauthier (Dracut, Mass.) to take a 28-16 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Gulls freshman Cam Farnham (Andover, Mass.) set an Endicott record with a 93-yard return as he was dragged down at the Framingham State three-yard line. The return set up a short pass from four yards out to Dellorco from McLaughlin.
Leading 28-23 at the tail end of the third quarter, Framingham State marched down the field for a 13-play, 82-yard drive that took 7:12 off the clock and resulted in Van Alstyne's lone score of the game. Framingham State rushed for 55 yards on the drive, 38 of which came from the legs of Van Alstyne.
Endicott failed to score for the remainder of the game, turning the ball over on downs twice, punting, and fumbling on a trick play in the final minutes of the game.
Defensively, McLaughlin was intercepted twice, once by senior linebacker Michael Altavesta (Tewksbury, Mass.) and again by Hill. Framingham State's Chris Sywetz (Bergenfield, N.J.) had a team-high eight tackles with a sack and a forced fumble. Defensive back Lewis Bailey (Chelmsford, Mass.) had five tackles with two pass breakups in the secondary.
The Endicott defense was on the field for 38:30 which led to a career-high in tackles for several players including senior nose guard Marcell Cooper (Dorchester, Mass.) who had 15 takedowns. Five of his tackles were of a solo variety and 1.5 went for a loss of yardage. Senior safety Jason Silva (Palatine, Ill.) also had a career-high 13 tackles as did Andrew Lawson (Framingham, Mass.) and Nick Kozlowski (Beverly, Mass.) with 10 tackles apiece.
Endicott will be on the road for week two against Eastern Collegiate Football Conference opponent Castleton State on Saturday, September 14th at 1:00 pm. Framingham State travels to Rowan for the first meeting between the two schools. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 pm kickoff next Saturday.