BRIDGEWATER, MASS. – William Paterson (1-1) scored 17 straight points to get within a field goal by halftime, but host Bridgewater State (1-1) distanced itself from the Pioneers during the second half for a 41-24 result Sept. 14.
WP wasted no time, finding the end zone 59 seconds into the contest when sophomore running back Darius Kersey (Dover, N.J./Dover) caught a short screen pass, made a man miss at the line of scrimmage, cut across the field and raced up the right sideline for a 58-yard score. Junior Robert Sinegra (Wharton, N.J./Morris Knolls) kicked the extra point and the Pioneers suddenly had a 7-0 lead.
The Bears punted to end their first possession but the ball bounced and touched a William Paterson defender. A.J. Pascuzzo recovered the ball in the end zone and the two teams were tied, 7-7, with 11:21 on the clock.
An interception gave Bridgewater State the ball at its own 44-yard line, and four plays later Blaise Branch carried it in from two yards out. The PAT kick was no good, but the Bears had their first lead at 13-7 with 7:19 remaining in the first quarter.
A miss wide left by Sinegra from 46 yards kept WP off the scoreboard, and BSU used a 30-yard completion when it looked like it was going to punt to keep the chains moving during its next drive. Quarterback Mike McCarthy finished the possession with a one-yard run into the end zone to open the second quarter (20-7, 14:56).
After forcing a Pioneer punt, the Bears' offense again found pay dirt, this time a 49-yard pass play from McCarthy to Matthew Green to make it a 27-7 margin with 7:59 to play in the first half.
A roughing the passer penalty on third-and-seven helped to keep William Paterson's next possession alive, and the Pioneers took advantage when senior quarterback Ryan Gresik (Newton, N.J./Newton) found senior tight end Brian Winfield (Newton, N.J./Newton) for a five-yard touchdown (27-14, 5:00). A Bear fumble of the ensuing kickoff was caused and recovered by freshman Jason Montalvo (Hoboken, N.J./Hoboken) at the BSU-26, and three plays later Gresik hit Kersey for a 12-yard score (27-21, 3:43).
With Bridgewater State threatening at the WP-36, McCarthy was sacked by sophomore Carlo Caponetta (Hazlet, N.J./Raritan) on first down, forcing a fumble that junior defensive lineman Al Kamara (North Brunswick, N.J./North Brunswick Twp.) recovered. The WP offense twice converted on third down and Sinegra capped a 12-play, 61-yard drive with his 18-yard field goal as time expired, sending the Pioneers into the locker room trailing by just three at 27-24.
The Bears received the ball to start the second half and promptly engineered a scoring drive that ended with a Branch six-yard run, handing Bridgewater a 34-24 edge at the 10:31 mark.
Following a missed 45-yard WP field-goal attempt, the two teams traded punts until a Pioneer goal-line defensive stand to start the fourth quarter. On fourth-and-one at the BSU-24, Gresik was intercepted, and the McCarthy one-yard TD run more than five minutes later all but ended the Pioneers' comeback hopes (41-24, 3:18).
Gresik was 25-for-42 for 293 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, becoming WP's career attempts leader (703) in the process. Sophomore Dwaine Dabney (Summit, N.J./Summit) led the ground game with nine carries for 35 yards. Kersey caught four passes for 94 yards and two scores, and junior Mike Vannucci (Bethpage, N.Y./Plainedge) hauled in five passes for 71 yards.
Junior linebacker Ben Allen (Ventnor, N.J./Atlantic City) led the Pioneer defense with 11 tackles (10 solo, 2.0 TFL). Freshman defensive back Mike Nyantakyi (Brentwood, N.Y./Brentwood) made seven stops (five solo, 1.0 sack) and Kamara added a fumble recovery to his six tackles (five solo).
Freshman Jerome Alexander (Montclair, N.J./Glen Ridge) returned four kickoffs for 139 yards (34.8 average), including a long of 49.
McCarthy finished 10-for-14 for 188 yards and a touchdown, and carried 25 times for 96 yards and two scores for Bridgewater State. Green caught seven passes for 164 yards and a touchdown, and Stephen Jacobs paced the defense with seven tackles (five solo, 2.0 TFL).
William Paterson will begin New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play Saturday, Sept. 21, at Cortland at 12:00 p.m.