BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. -- Junior quarterback Mike McCarthy (Edgartown, Mass.) amassed 254 yards of total offense and accounted for three touchdowns to earn Lee Harrington Most Valuable Player honors for a second straight season in leading Bridgewater State to a 31-21 victory over Massachusetts Maritime in the 34th Annual Cranberry Bowl Presented By Ocean Spray Saturday afternoon at Clean Harbors Stadium.
The visiting Bears (9-1, 6-1 New England Football Conference Bogan) trailed 21-17 entering the final quarter of play, but McCarthy capped a 14-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 6:45 of the clock with a five-yard touchdown run to give Bridgewater State the lead for good at 24-21 with 8:59 remaining.
Senior cornerback Vincent Henry's (Middleboro, Mass.) interception of the host Buccaneers' (5-4, 4-3 NEFC Bogan) ensuing drive gave the visitors the ball back on their own 31-yard line, and McCarthy once again directed the Bears on an extended drive of 11 plays and 69 yards that killed 5:29 of clock time, as he iced Bridgewater State's triumph with a 22-yard scoring scamper with 2:58 remaining.
Massachusetts Maritime took the opening kickoff and marched 78 yards in 13 plays over the first 3:56 of action, as junior Stefan Gustafson's (Plymouth, Mass.) one-yard plunge gave the Buccaneers a 7-0 edge.
McCarthy evened matters for the Bears with 2:40 to play in the first quarter when he connected with fellow junior Matt Green (Stoughton, Mass.) on a 16-yard touchdown pass, and Bridgewater State took advantage of a short field in taking a 14-7 cushion four minutes into the second stanza on senior quarterback Caleb Gelsomino's (North Scituate, R.I.) one-yard plunge.
Gustafson countered on the hosts' ensuing drive with his second one-yard touchdown run of the day that squared the contest at 14-14 at the break, but the visitors took a 17-14 edge on the opening possession following intermission on sophomore Jarred Diorio's (Kingston, N.H.) 20-yard field goal.
Sophomore quarterback John Trudel (Niantic, Conn.) gave Massachusetts Maritime its final lead of the day on the ensuing drive, as his nine-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter staked the Buccaneers to a 21-17 edge. Junior Sheldon Roper's (Sharpsburg, Ga.) interception on his own 17-yard drive thwarted a Bridgewater State scoring opportunity, but the two teams traded punts on ensuing possessions to set up McCarthy's fourth quarter heroics.
McCarthy finished with 180 rushing yards on 29 carries while throwing for 74 yards to go with his three scores for the Bears, who amassed 436 yards of total offense and held the ball for 42-plus minutes while holding Massachusetts Maritime (who ranked second nationally in total offense at 552.8 yards per game entering the contest) to just 263 yards and 17-plus minutes of possession.
Senior Mike Gentili (Leominster, Mass.) added 96 rushing yards on 17 carries for Bridgewater State, which also received 45 receiving yards from senior Matt Monahan (Wrentham, Mass.).
Gustafson rushed for 81 yards on 24 carries to go with his two touchdowns in the setback for the Buccaneers, who also received a combined 98 yards of total offense from Trudel, including 50 on the ground and 48 through the air.
Junior Eddie Jewel (Amherst, Mass.) paced Bridgewater State defensively with 11 solo tackles, while fellow junior Adam Toman (Barrington, R.I.) added six total tackles and a sack for the Bears.
Sophomore Kevin Stanton (Abington, Mass.) led Massachusetts Maritime on the defensive side with 11 total tackles (10 solo), while Roper added 10 solo stops to go with his interception for the Buccaneers, who also received nine total tackles and a pair of sacks from senior Nick Mazurkiewicz (Attleboro, Mass.).
Today's Cranberry Bowl marked the regular season finale for both squads, who will now await word of possible post-season berths in the either the NCAA or ECAC Championships, as those pairings will be announced on Monday, November 12th.
Notes: McCarthy moved past Tom Egan (1,737 yds, 1986-89) and Al Colarusso (1,891 yds, 1976-79) into tenth place on the Bears all-time rushing list as he now has 1,906 rushing yards in his three seasons at BSU….McCarthy also moved into a tie with Clint Cabral (1989-92) for 14th place on the Bears' all-time scoring list with 144 points.