WORCESTER, Mass. – The Bridgewater State University football team downed host Worcester State University, 34-14, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) matchup on Saturday afternoon at Coughlin Stadium. The game marked the MASCAC opener for both teams.
The visiting Bears improve to 1-2 (1-0 MASCAC) on the season, while the Lancers fall to 0-3 (0-1 MASCAC).
The win marked the first coaching victory for BSU head coach Joe Verria.
With the game knotted at 7-7 at halftime, the Bears ripped off 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a decided 28-7 advantage.
BSU senior quarterback Danny Higgins (Manahawkin, N.J.) completed 22 of 38 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his touchdowns passes came in the decisive third quarter and he also added a rushing touchdown in the period.
Trailing 7-0, Higgins connected with junior wideout Travis Bassett (Littleton, Mass.) on a 14-yard scoring strike. The touchdown pass came on fourth down and eight.
In the third quarter, Higgins led the Bears on three successive scoring drives of 66, 55 and 60 yards. He hooked up with sophomore receiver Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) on scoring passes of seven and 42 yards, and then capped off the period with a four-yard TD run.
The Lancers cut the deficit to 28-14 on a 12-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterbackIsmael Jenkins (Lawrence, Mass.) to senior wideout Derek Moore (Mendon, Mass.) with just 1:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. Worcester would get the ball back one more time, but BSU senior linebacker A.J. Pascuzzo (Wallingford, Conn.) put the finishing touches on the scoring as he intercepted a Jenkins' pass at the 30-yard line and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown with just ten seconds showing on the game clock. The ensuing PAT was blocked.
Junior running back Alex McLaughlin (Littleton, Mass.) led all ball carriers with 126 rushing yards on 22 attempts. The Bears outrushed the Lancers by a margin of 207-56.
Lavanchy finished with six catches for 80 yards and the two scores. Senior receiver Dukens Léon (Paris, France) hauled in six receptions for 78 yards.
Senior wide receiver Tyler Barrie (Oxford, Mass.) paced the Lancer offense with seven catches for 120 yards. Worcester sophomore quarterback Cameron Charette (Fairhaven, Mass.) completed 16 of 28 passes for 183 yards. Jenkins finished with 53 yards and a touchdown on 5 of 10 passing. Charette and Jenkins both threw an interception and were sacked a combined eight times.
Pascuzzo led the Bears' defensive effort with his pick six as well as nine tackles (five solo) including 3 ½ for loss and a pair of sacks to go along with a forced fumble. Junior linebackerLesedi Malete (Stony Brook, N.Y.) finished with a team-best ten tackles (five solo) with a half a sack. Senior defensive end Emmanuel Omere (Bessemer, Ala.) added six stops (three solo) with four going for loss with two sacks and a pass breakup. Senior defensive tackle Elvis Romero (Wayne, N.J.) chipped in four tackles (two solo) including two sacks and a forced fumble.
Bridgewater won the turnover battle as the Bears forced three turnovers and committed just one (fumble).
The Bears also held the advantage in total offense and time of possession as they outgained the Lancers by a margin of 451 to 292 and had the ball for nearly 38 minutes (37:53). Bridgewater was also 6-for-16 on third down conversions, while Worcester finished just 1-for-12 on third down.
The MASCAC schedule continues for both teams next week. The Bears host the Falcons of Fitchburg State University on Friday night at seven, while the Lancers travel to Mass. Maritime Academy on Saturday for a noontime game with the Buccaneers.
Notes: Higgins moved into fourth place on the Bears' all-time passing yardage list as he increased his career total to 4,464. He passed Adam Camobreco who threw for 4,407 yards from 2002 to 2005....Bassett increased his careee receiving yardage total to 1,444 yards as he moved past Chris Joyce (2005-07) into seventh place on the Bears' all-time list.