WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State freshman running back Travon Holder (Cheyney Tech/Hartford, Conn.) scored three touchdowns, including a 37-yard run with 2:06 left in the game that proved to be the game winner, as Westfield State rallied past Massachusetts Maritime Academy and then held on for a dramatic 41-34 win in front of a homecoming crowd on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field.
Westfield improves to 2-4 on the season, and 1-3 in the MASCAC. Mass Maritime falls to 2-4 and 1-3 in the league.
Mass Maritime staked itself to a 20-10 halftime lead on touchdowns from Kenny Pierce (Beverly/Beverly, Mass.), Shane Haggerty (Cohasset/Cohasset, Mass.), and Brad Skeffington (Salem/Salem, Mass.). Westfield State answered with a pair of scores to open the second half first on a 9-yard run by senior fullback Ryan Sweeney, then on a 19-yard scamper from Holder with 10:06 left in the third quarter to give the Owls a 24-20 lead.
The Buccaneers answered on the next drive, sparked by a 72-yard kickoff return from Jon Furtado (Case/Swansea, Mass.), which set the Bucs up at the Owls 18 yard line. Six plays later Skeffington scrambled right out of the pocket for a 4-yard TD run and a 27-24 mass maritime lead.
Westfield tied the game at 27-all on a 27-yard field goal from Tyler Duff (Dracut/Dracut, Mass.) late in the third quarter.
The Owls grabbed a 34-27 lead on a 2-yard TD run for Holder with 13:15 left to play, but the Buccaneers responded with a 12-play, 81-yard drive that was capped when Pierce swept left and down the sideline for a 23-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 34-all.
Westfield got the big play it needed from its defense, as sophomore linebacker John Ollari (Turners Falls/Millers Falls, Mass) intercepted a Skeffington pass at the 47 yard line and brought it back to the 37. Holder burst through for the winning touchdown on the next play from scrimmage.
Mass Maritime wasn't done, marching all the way to the Owls seven-yard line with 48 seconds left in regulation, where Owls freshman linebacker Marcos Diaz sacked Skeffington for an 11-yard loss on 3rd and 6. The desperation fourth down pass fell incomplete, and Westfield qb Eric Washburn (Norwich Free Academy/Lisbon, Conn.) kneeled on the ball to secure the win for the Owls. Holder finished with eight carries for 73 yards and the three touchdowns, while senior Bryan Waruhiu (Lowell Catholic/Dracut, Mass.) added 82 yards on 17 carries. Washburn finished 14-23 for 223 yards and did not throw an interception. Sam Laurin (Chicopee Comp/Chicopee, Mass.) caught five passes for 63 yards, and senior Colin Smith had an 83-yard catch that set up Holder's second score of the day.
Skeffington carried 36 times for 148 yards for the Buccaneers, and completed 16 of 32 passes for 158 yards and a TD. Pierce added 122 yards rushing and a pair of TDs. Shane Haggerty led the Bucs receivers with seven catches for 75 yards.
Senior linebacker Drew Brigner (Norwich Free Academy/Preston, Conn.) led the Owls with 20 tackles, while Ollari added 18. Marshall McCarthy (Duxbury/Duxbury, Mass.) led MMA with nine tackles and a sack.