DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- Senior Sterlin Garvin (Canton, Mass.) rushed for 296 yards and four touchdowns as Fitchburg State held off a late rally to notch a 32-29 victory over UMass Dartmouth in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference football season finale for both teams Saturday afternoon at Cressy Field.
Garvin found the end zone from 71 yards out on the visiting Falcons’ (2-8, 2-6 MASCAC) first play from scrimmage, as his touchdowns sandwiched a pair of scores from eight and 18 yards out from freshman Devante Greaves (Raynham, Mass.) that staked the host Corsairs (5-5, 4-4 MASCAC) to a 14-6 first quarter lead. Garvin struck paydirt again on a 64-yard run early in the second stanza that pulled Fitchburg State to within two (14-12), and his third visit to the end zone of the day from 15 yards out with 7:15 remaining in the half gave the Falcons the lead for good at 18-14. The visitors extended that margin to 26-14 at the break on their ensuing possession, as freshman quarterback Brandon Brown (Lake Mary, Fla.) hooked up with junior Jesse Brown (Yonkers, N.Y.) on a 26-yard touchdown pass for one of just two completions on the day.
Garvin capped a six-play, 53-yard drive with his fourth and final score of the contest yards out on the opening drive after intermission to give the visitors a 32-14 edge, and that score held up until the waning moments of the game when UMass Dartmouth struck for a pair of touchdowns in less than three minutes to close its deficit to three. Sophomore quarterback Stephen Gacioch (Tiverton, R.I.) first connected with sophomore DJ Machado (Swansea, Mass.) on a 17-yard scoring strike with 3:23 to play that cut the Falcon lead to 11, and after a Fitchburg State punt, Gacioch found junior Jacen Hudson (Hudson, N.H.) from 30 yards out with 31 seconds remaining. Greaves then hit Gacioch for a two-point conversion that sliced the Corsairs’ deficit to what proved to be the final margin, as an ensuing onside kick recovery enabled the Falcons to run out the clock.
Garvin’s rushing effort was three yards shy of Fitchburg State’s school record 299-yard effort by Deandre Freeman during the 1999 season, as he and Brandon Brown (149 yards on 12 carries) combined for all but 12 of the visitors’ 463 rushing yards on the day. The two teams combined for 1,015 yards of total offense (514 for Fitchburg State, 501 for UMass Dartmouth), as the Corsairs ran 26 more plays (85-59) than the Falcons.
Gacioch completed 26-of-53 pass attempts for 391 yards to go with his two touchdowns for the hosts, as he tied Jay Furtado’s school single-season passing yards mark of 2,298 first set 20 years ago with his performance. Greaves finished with 82 yards to go with his two scores for the Corsairs, who received nine catches for 192 yards from sophomore Leroy Brown (Milton, Mass.) along with six receptions for 73 yards from Machado.
Junior Malik Crawford (Yonkers, N.Y.) registered 12 total tackles (11 solo) to lead the way defensively for Fitchburg State, which received a pair of sacks for losses of 19 yards from freshman Samuel Kenny (South Yarmouth, Mass.). Junior Connor Russ (Middletown, R.I.) made eight total stops (four solo) and recovered a fumble for UMass Dartmouth, which received five solo stops from sophomore Jacob Burkhead (Plymouth, Mass.).
(Photo Credit: Rainier Almonte '20)