BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – The visiting Western Connecticut State University football team held on for a 27-20 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference victory over Bridgewater State University on Saturday evening in front of over over 1,900 Homecoming fans at Swenson Field.
The Colonials improve to 6-1 on the season and 4-1 in the MASCAC, while the Bears fall to 2-6 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
Western Connecticut overcame an outstanding effort by BSU junior wide receiver Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.). Lavanchy hauled in 14 passes for 254 yards and a pair of touchdowns as he set the BSU single-game records for both receptions and receiving yards.
Lavanchy eclipsed BSU Hall of Famer Andy Macaione's 19-year old mark of 221 receiving yards set against Framingham State in 1998. The previous record of 12 receptions in a game was set by Chris Joyce in 2007 (vs. Plymouth State) and equaled by Matt Green in 2013 (vs. Mass. Maritime).
Junior running back Duane Gary (New Haven, Conn.) paced the Colonials' offense as he rushed for 179 yards on 21 carries and grabbed four passes for 33 yards and a touchdown. Gary also registered 48 kick return yards as he finished with 260 all-purpose yards.
WestConn senior quarterback Quinn Fleeting (Windsor, Conn.) completed 13 of 25 pass attempts for 126 yards and three touchdowns. Fleeting, who entered the day averaging over 300 passing yards per game, also threw an interception.
Lavanchy's 15-yard touchdown reception from sophomore quarterback Stefano D'Emilia (Bridgewater, Mass.) on the opening drive of the game gave the Bears an early 7-0 lead.
A 13-yard touchdown pass from Fleeting to senior wideout Jawad Chisholm (Bridgeport, Conn.) later in the quarter capped off a 13-play, 80-yard drive as the Colonials tied the game up at 7-7.
Neither team would score again in the first half.
Western Connecticut marched 68 yards on eight plays on the opening possession of the third quarter with Fleeting scoring on a four-yard touchdown run to make it a 14-7 game.
On the ensuing possession, a long 44-yard pass from D'Emilia to Lavanchy gave the Bears first-and-goal from the one-yard line. However, a very bad snap on the next play was picked up by senior safety Doug Katz (Monroe, Conn.) at the WestConn 42 and returned 43 yards down to the BSU 15. Two plays later, Fleeting connected with sophomore wide receiver Zatrell Lyons (New Haven, Conn.) on a three-yard touchdown pass to extend the Colonials' lead to 20-7 (the PAT was blocked).
Bridgewater answered with a seven-play, 53-yard drive with D'Emilia hooking up with sophomore receiver Aidan Silva (Swansea, Mass.) on an 18-yard TD pass on fouth and ten. The throw, which was intended for Lavanchy, was batted up in the air by a Western Connecticut defender and into the waiting hands of Silva near the back of the end zone to pull the Bears to within 20-14.
The Colonials got back up by two score (27-14) with 13 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter as they strung together a nine-play, 76-yard drive capped off by a 17-yard scoring strike from Fleeting to Gary.
The Bears turned the ball over on downs on their next possession, but then forced a punt. A 64-yard pass reception by Lavanchy highlighted a six-play, 81-yard drive which took just 1:47 off the clock. Lavanchy capped off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone to cut the deficit to 27-20 (the PAT was blocked) with just 4:48 remaining in the game.
Bridgewater forced a punt and got the ball back with 2:53 remaining and with two timeouts at the BSU 38. The Bears got one first down on a 12-yard pass to Lavanchy, but then turned the ball over on downs as WestConn ran out the clock.
D'Emilia was 20 of 45 passing for 300 yards and three touchdowns with a pair of interceptions. He threw for 300 yards for the first time in his career.
Senior safety Cristian Rivera (Lawrence, Mass.) recorded a game-high ten tackles (six solo) to pace the BSU defense. Senior linebacker Charles McCarthy (North Reading, Mass.) added eight stops (four solo) including a sack, while junior safety Reda Laftih (Quincy, Mass.) notched five solo tackles and intercepted a pass. Senior linebacker Tyler Salois (North Andover, Mass.) contributed four tackles (three solo) with a pair of sacks.
Sophomore safety Devon Smith (Wethersfield, Conn.) led WestConn on the defensive side of the ball with six solo tackles, an interception and a pass breakup. Katz finished with five tackles (two solo), the key fumble recovery and return, as well as a pass breakup and a blocked PAT.
Following a bye week, the Bears will host Worcester State University on Saturday, November 4th at noon. The Colonials will entertain Fitchburg State University next Saturday at noon.
Notes: Lavanchy became just the sixth receiver in BSU football history to record 100 career receptions. He is now fourth all-time at Bridgewater State with 112 catches...Lavnachy is now seventh all-time in BSU football history with 1,506 receiving yards....D'Emilia is just the third quarterback in program history to throw for 300 yards in a game. He joins Adam Camobreco and three-time 300-yard passer Danny Higgins....According to the NCAA single-game leaderboard, Lavanchy's 254-yard game marks the seventh highest receiving yardage total in Division III this season, and the 14-catch performance is tied for ninth.