DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Bolstered by freshman quarterback Stephen Gacioch's (Tiverton, R.I.) 280 yards offense, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth football stymied the high-powered Western Connecticut pass game, claiming a 17-13 final in front of a packed house at Cressy Field on Homecoming Weekend.
Score: UMass Dartmouth 17, Western Connecticut 13
Records: UMass Dartmouth (2-2, 2-1 MASCAC) | Western Connecticut (3-1, 1-1 MASCAC)
How it Happened
The Corsairs won the coin toss, and opted to kick it to the high-octane offense of Western Connecticut, and it paid off as the defense forced a turnover on downs with heavy-pressure up front.
In the first offensive drive for the Corsairs, the team drove down the field in five plays and capped the drive off as Gacioch avoided the rush before lofting a ball to the back of the end zone where junior Abbi Bamgbose (Worcester, Mass.) kept his feet in bounds for his third touchdown of 2017.
Western Connecticut was stuffed throughout the first and second stanzas, as the nation's fifth-best passing offense was unable to convert a touchdown in the first half. The lone points came on the leg of sophomore Jordan D'Onofrio (Orange, Conn.) after bookending the second quarter with field goals (7-6).
Following the intermission, the Colonials gained their first lead on the first play of the possession as Quinn Fleeting (Windsor, Conn.) dumped off a pass to Duane Gary (New Haven, Conn.), who took it 73 yards to the house, breaking a few tacklers on the way to put the Colonials up 13-7.
Gacioch sparked the offense three possessions later, picking up a 33-yard gain on the ground before connecting with Michael Slaughter Jr. (Springfield, Mass.) through the air to put the team inside the Colonial red zone.
After being stopped on three plays, Gacioch capped the nine-play, 90-yard drive, hitting Jeremy Jackson (Middletown, R.I.) in the end zone on fourth and goal (14-13).
On the next Colonial series, Fleeting found Khalil Patterson (Hartford, Conn.) on a 57-yard catch-and-run, with Patterson being stopped by Tony Slaughter (Springfield, Mass.) to save the touchdown. During the very next play, Fleeting had the ball knocked loose, with T. Slaughter recovering to put possession back in the hands of the hosts
UMass Dartmouth extended the lead following the turnover as freshman James Tooker (Harwich, Mass.) knocked down a 31-field goal to punctuate the 13-play drive, and putting the Corsairs up 17-13.
The Corsair defense stood strong in the remaining two possessions from Western Connecticut, holding the opposition to -5 yards before retaining the rock and running the final 4:54.
Inside the Numbers
- The Corsairs controlled possession for nearly 37 minutes of play to WCSU's 23 minutes.
- Western Connecticut was held to under 300 yards passing for the first time this season, leading the category 271 to UMass Dartmouth's 213.
- Gacioch finished with 193 passing yards (15-of-26 passing), and a team-high 87 yards on the ground.
- Senior Marvey Mathurin (Woburn, Mass.) wrapped up a game-high 12 tackles while T. Slaughter came up with five solo tackles and the crucial fumble recovery.
- UMass Dartmouth had three fumbles, but did not lose one, while Western Connecticut's lone fumble came inside the red zone.
- Following the victory, the Corsairs improve their all-time record with Western Connecticut to 4-5.
UMass Dartmouth travels to Curry College for a non-conference tilt next Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for 1:00 P.M. Western Connecticut State host its own homecoming game next Saturday at 6:00 P.M. against the Lancers of Worcester State.
Corsair fans are encouraged to participate in Domino's New Bedford's "When the Corsairs Win, You Win" promotion on Monday, Oct. 2. Starting at noon, fans will receive 50 percent off all online pizza orders with promo code UMASSD.