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Catching on at Bridgewater State

More news about: Bridgewater State
After being recruited by high school teammate Travis Bassett, transfer Alex McLaughlin is making plays all over the field for the Bears.
Photo courtesy Bridgewater State Athletics 

Travis Bassett is Bridgewater State's leading receiver with 28 receptions, five for touchdowns. But his biggest catch is snaring Alex McLaughlin for the program.

McLaughlin started out at Coastal Carolina as a preferred walk-on.

"They had me at safety there. I was only there a month. It wasn't a good fit," McLaughlin said.

Bassett and McLaughlin had been teammates at a high school about an hour from Bridgewater.

"I called him up and asked him about the coaching staff and the program. He told me it was great," McLaughlin said.

Teammates again, McLaughlin and Bassett are on a Bridgewater State team that has won four games in a row and have a big game coming up with Framingham State for supremacy in the MASCAC.

McLaughlin is a versatile piece of the offense. He has played some traditional quarterback, been in as a Wildcat quarterback and is often a running back. McLaughlin has rushed for 664 yards and 14 touchdowns this season but has also thrown for 427 yards and three more scores.

It's mix and match. Quarterback Danny Higgins has passed for 933 yards and six touchdowns.

"Danny Higgins right now is playing at a very high level," coach Chuck Denune said. "But you don't want Alex watching on the sideline."

Denune loves the way his offensive coaches are blending their talents.

But there was one game where his faith was being tested.

"Against Westfield State we were up 14-0 and Alex had only been on the field for two plays," Denune said. "I was crawling out of my skin but I didn't say anything.

"Alex wound up rushing for 169 yards and four touchdowns in that game. They have done a very good job of mixing the two.

"Both are very good young men. They are coachable and they listen. They just go about their business."

The Bears had a lopsided loss to Fitchburg in which they did not have Higgins, but have now won four straight and stand at 6-2 and 5-1 in the MASCAC.

"The team has come together," Denune said. "They are so young but at the same time they are so talented."

The offensive line is young and inexperienced owing to a rash of injuries to that unit.

"That line is pretty much completely new," Denune said, noting that Ty McGrath is the only returning player now on the field with that unit.

"Guys just keep stepping up," Denune said.

Colton Schilling is an example of the offensive line's commitment.

"He left here in the spring at 220 pounds and came back at 250," Denune said.

"The line has really made a difference. They play with tenacity and fight you on every play. They play the way offensive linemen are supposed to play."

Ballhawking

Coast Guard's Joe Rizzardi had an interception that he returned 52 yards for a score in a 24-6 victory over Nichols and Trinity's Archi Jerome had a 50-yard interception return to seal unbeaten Trinity's 26-14 win over Middlebury.

Wesleyan's Zac Cuzner was all over the secondary in the 20-14 win over Bowdoin. He had three interceptions and three pass break-ups.

And then there is Trevor Lynon who returned his interception for a score to put Bates ahead for good in a 10-9 win over Colby, the Bobcats' first win over Colby since 1999.

Nicholas Sherman had two picks for Becker in a 58-6 win over Gallaudet.

Slingin' for six

Framingham State's Matt Silva had six touchdown passes in a 54-25 win over Mass. Maritime and now has 32 this season for the 7-1 Rams.

Salve Regina's Brandan Basil had five touchdown passes in the 56-27 victory over MIT.

Becker's Nas Sinkfield-Shelton fired four TD passes as did UMass-Dartmouth's Cory Burnham in a 27-21 win over Western Connecticut.

Another record at Fitchburg

Earlier this year Garrett Dellachiaie became Fitchburg State's all-time leader in passing yardage.

This time it was his receiver's turn to get in the record book. Ty Spencer caught his 20th career TD pass setting a program record.

They will remember that play for more than the record. It came with six seconds remaining to lift the Falcons to a 14-13 win over Westfield State.

Quick kicks

Castleton University and Worcester State won with field goals. Noah Hwang's field goal in overtime gave Worcester State a 30-27 win over Plymouth and Bobby Lineberger's 20-yarder with 6:57 remaining provided the difference in the Spartans' 17-14 win at Anna Maria. ... Philippe Bazinet threw for 215 yards and a score and Quincy Williams rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns as Norwich won 33-7 at Mount Ida. ... Joe Seccarecccia threw for three scores and John Smith ran for two in Husson's 40-14 win over SUNY-Maritime. ... Becker continues to be a big story as the Hawks gun for their first winning season. They are 5-3. ... Framingham's Svenn Jacobson recovered three fumbles. ... Kemani Jones was a workhorse for Worcester State. He had 35 carriers and 151 yards and two touchdowns to show for them. Amherst won its 17th straight and Hamilton broke a 25-game losing streak with its 20-17 win over Williams. Cole Freeman threw two TD passes for Hamilton. ... Tyler Ward threw three touchdown passes as Western New Engalnd stayed unbeaten by beating Endicott 19-13. ... Alex Davis passed for 301 yards and two scores for Coast Guard and Kyle Wood had 11 tackles.

The big games

The showdown in the MASCAC that has Framingham traveling to Bridgewater should be played in a frenzied atmosphere.

"It is the biggest game we've had here in a long time," McLaughlin said. "The whole community and the administration is getting behind the team. We're excited. The Rams are a very talented team but we are going to get after it."

"At our Homecoming the place was electric," Denune said. "It was an event."

This should be an event in itself. Four-game winning streaks will do that for a program.

Denune knows that Framingham has been the beast in the MASCAC while branding itself as a regional power as well in recent years.

"We have been watching film on them all week. There are not a whole lot of chinks in the armor. They are pretty stout everywhere."

The Bears give Framingham coach Tom Kelly and his staff their own concerns. The two-quarterback system deployed by the Bears much of the year  puts plenty of wrinkles in the offensive scheme.

Unbeaten Western New England's trip to Coast Guard looks to be the marquee matchup in the NEFC.

And there's no question as to what is the game of the day in the ECFC. Husson comes to Norwich and Husson and the Cadets are each 5-0 in the conference and fighting for the top rung of the ladder and all that goes with it.

It's the same thing in the NESCAC where unbeaten Trinity and undefeated Amherst collide at Amherst.

It is a weekend with a playoff feel to it and for Bridgewater, Framingham, Norwich, and Husson the playoffs are at stake.

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Tom Haley

A seven time Vermont sportswriter of the year, Tom Haley has been with the Rutland Herald since 1987. He was inducted into the Castleton State College Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Contributor to Football Award from the National Football Foundation's Vermont Chapter. He has been D3football.com's Around the Northeast columnist since 2007.

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