BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Junior Aidan Silva (Swansea, Mass.) rushed for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead Bridgewater State to a 44-28 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference football victory over UMass Dartmouth Saturday afternoon at Swenson Field.
After the teams traded first quarter scores, the host Bears (5-2, 4-1 MASCAC) used an eight-yard touchdown run by freshman Brad Thitgen (Cumming, Ga.) and a six-yard Silva scoring scamper to take a 20-7 lead with eight minutes remaining in the half, but the visiting Corsairs (3-3, 2-2 MASCAC) responded on their very next play when sophomore quarterback Stephen Gacioch (Tiverton, R.I.) connected with fellow sophomore Leroy Brown (Milton, Mass.) on a 60-yard touchdown pass. Junior Nick Santavicca (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) capped an ensuing six-play, 60-yard drive with a two-yard plunge that restored Bridgewater State’s 13-point lead with 4:53 to play before the break, but Gacioch and Brown hooked up once again from long range on the ensuing UMass Dartmouth possession, as Brown hauled in a 53-yard touchdown pass that closed the visitors’ gap to six (27-21) at intermission.
That score held up until just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter when Brown struck paydirt from long range for a third time in the contest, as Gacioch found him for a 59-yard scoring strike that gave the Corsairs a 28-27 advantage. The Bears drove 74 yards on their ensuing possession and took the lead for good on Silva’s one-yard touchdown plunge with 4:17 remaining in the stanza, and the hosts extended that margin to 13 once again on Santavicca’s six-yard run 38 seconds into the final frame. Senior Jacob Crear’s (North Attleboro, Mass.) 24-yard field goal with 2:04 to play accounted for Bridgewater State’s final margin, as the Bears have won four straight in the series between the two schools dating back to 2015.
Junior Stefano D’Emilia (Bridgewater, Mass.) completed 19-of-23 pass attempts for 292 yards in the triumph for Bridgewater State, which amassed 543 yards of total offense and ran 32 more plays (87-55) while controlling the ball for over 37 minutes of action. Senior Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) hauled in 12 receptions for 185 yards for the Bears, who also received eight catches for 111 yards from sophomore T.J. Hairston.
Brown finished a yard shy of the 200-yard receiving mark in the setback for UMass Dartmouth, as his 199 yard total and three touchdowns both rank as the second highest single game marks for receiving yards and scoring catches in school history. Gacioch threw for 291 yards on the day for the Corsairs, who amassed 354 yards of total offense on the day.
Sophomore Michael Rosa (Uxbridge, Mass.) registered 10 total tackles (seven solo) in the win for Bridgewater State, which received interceptions from junior Stephen Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) and freshman Steven Silvia (Dighton, Mass.). Sophomore Jacob Burkhead (Plymouth, Mass.) recorded a game-high 11 total tackles (10 solo) to go with a forced fumble and pass break-up on the day for UMass Dartmouth, which nine stops from junior Tony Slaughter (Springfield, Mass.) and an interception from freshman Marlon Scott (Taunton, Mass.).
UMass Dartmouth hosts Worcester State in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference outing next Saturday afternoon as part of Homecoming festivities at Cressy Field that kicks off at 2:30 pm, while Bridgewater State travels to Danbury, Conn. next Saturday evening to square off with Western Connecticut in a MASCAC clash that kicks off at 6:00 pm.