WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Senior wide receiver Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) and junior running back Nick Santavicca (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) each scored a pair of touchdowns as Bridgewater State held off Westfield State, 31-14, in a MASCAC football game on Saturday at Alumni Field.
Lavanchy finished with 144 yards on eight catches including TD's of 28 and 25 yards.
Santivicca opened the scoring for the Bears with a six-yard TD run in the first quarter to stake Bridgewater to a 7-0 lead, then capped the scoring with a four-yard sweep late in the fourth quarter for the 31-14 final, as he totaled 104 yards on an efficient 18 carries.
Bridgewater improves to 3-2 on the season and 2-1 in the MASCAC, while Westfield falls to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
After Santavicca scored on the opening possession of the game, the next five possessions results in two turnovers on downs, a pair of punts and an interceptions. The Bears then strung togther a 14-play, 88-yard drive late in the second quuarter capped off by Lavanchy's 28-yard TD reception from freshman quarterback Brad Thiltgen (Cumming, Ga.).
Trailing 14-0 at the half, Westfield got on the board with a six-yard TD run from senior running back Travon Holder (Hartford, Conn.), capping a quick two-play drive that was set up at the Bridgewater 16-yard line when Owls senior DE Darryl Denson (Springfield, Mass.) forced a fumble and recovered it in the Bears' backfield.
The Bears added a 25-yard field goal from senior kicker Jacob Crear (North Attleboro, Mass.) to lead 17-7, then extended the advantage to 14-7 when Thiltgen found Lavanchy on a wide receiver screen, and Lavanchy broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage and rambled 25 yards down the left sideline for the score.
The Owls struck back quickly, as Evan Garvey (Dalton, Mass.) returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the Westfield 42. Three plays later Owls quarterback Jake Cassidy (Swampscott, Mass.) hit Mike Miller (Trumbull, Conn.) deep behind the Bridgewater defense for a 39-yard touchdown after Cassidy had scrambled away from pressure, which cut the lead to 24-14 with 10:01 left in the game.
The Bears largely put the game away with a eight-play drive midway through the fourth quarter which took 3:45 off the clock and ended with junior Stefano D'Emilia's (Bridgewater, Mass.) pooch punt being downed at the Owls' three-yard line. Following a quick turnover on downs, the Bears took over at the Westfield nine and Santavicca put the game out of reach with his second touchdown of the day.
The team stats for the day were much more evenly matched than the score would indicate, as the Bears posted 373 yards to the Owls 344, and both teams turned the ball over twice.
Westfield's James English (Danvers, Mass.) thwarted one Bears' first-half drive with an interception in the end zone. Westfield marched the ball in to Bridgewater territory on eight drives, but came up just 1-for-4 in red-zone opportunities.
Thiltgen completed 11 of 15 passes for 170 yards and two TD's for Bridgewater while splitting time with D'Emilia at quarterback. Lavanchy's eight catches leave him three shy of the Bears' career record of 169 held by Matt Green. Senior slot receiver Travis Bassett (Littleton, Mass.) added six catches for 36 yards. Bassett now has 155 career receptions as he trails just Green and Lavanchy on the Bears' all-time list.
Holder rushed 24 times for 82 yards, and added 67 yards receiving on five catches for Westfield. Cassidy finished 11-for-22 for 144 yards, while Andrew Peltier (Holyoke, Mass.) was 5-for-11 for 57 yards on his two drives.
Garvey, who led the nation in kickoff return average in 2017, had a strong day for the Owls with six returns for 167 yards.
Junior cornerback Juan Gonzalez (Lawrence, Mass.) recorded seven tackles with six solo stops to lead the BSU defensive effort. Sophomore linebacker Michael Rosa (Uxbridge, Mass.) checked in with eight tackles (three solo), while senior defensive end Rhondell Teesdale (Dorchester, Mass.) notched six tackles (three solo) with 1 1/2 tackles for loss. Junior defensive back Stephen Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) recorded his first career interception and added three tackles (two solo).
Westfield State will hit the road for two weeks, next traveling to Mass Maritime for a noon kickoff on Saturday, October 6. Bridgewater will host Plymouth State on Friday Night, October 5.