DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- Sophomore quarterback Stephen Gacioch (Tiverton, R.I.) amassed 298 yards of total offense and threw a pair of touchdown passes to lead UMass Dartmouth to a 21-16 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference football victory over Plymouth State Saturday evening at Cressy Field.
Gacioch connected with sophomore Leroy Brown (Milton, Mass.) on a 13-yard scoring strike with 5:40 remaining in the opening half to stake the host Corsairs (3-1, 2-0 MASCAC) to a 7-0 advantage at the break, but junior David Hamilton’s (West Deptford, N.J.) one-yard touchdown plunge capped a 10-play drive to open the third quarter and enable the visiting Panthers (1-2, 0-2 MASCAC) to draw even at 7-7. Gacioch then directed a nine-play, 80 yard ensuing drive and hooked up once again with Brown from 28 yards out to give UMass Dartmouth a 14-7 cushion midway through the frame, and that score held up until early in the final stanza when Plymouth State closed back to within four on sophomore Jeremy Martin’s (Charlton, Mass.) 22-yard field goal with 12:22 remaining.
After an exchange of punts, Gacioch led a 14-play, 68-yard drive that he kept alive with three third down rushing conversions and consumed 7:25 of the quarter, as freshman Steffan Gravely’s (Lynn, Mass.) two-yard run extended the Corsair edge to 21-10 with 1:14 to play in the game. The Panthers took advantage of 42-yard return off the ensuing kickoff by senior Brad Rhoades (Epsom, N.H.) to start their next drive on the UMass Dartmouth 48-yard line, and five plays later senior quarterback Zack Edwards (Brookfield, Mass.) connected with junior Jacob Szulc (Concord, N.H.) on a nine-yard touchdown pass to pull the visitors within five. Edwards’ two-point conversion rushed failed, and after a Plymouth State onside kick attempt went out of bounds, the Corsairs were able to run out the clock and claim their triumph over the defending conference champions.
Gacioch completed 20-of-30 pass attempts for 236 yards in the win for the hosts, as he tacked on 62 rushing yards on 13 attempts while accounting for four of UMass Dartmouth’s five third down conversions on the night. Junior Kevin Gonzalez (Pawtucket, R.I.) hauled in eight receptions for a career-high 112 yards for the Corsairs, who received four catches for 59 yards from Brown in amassing 337 yards of total offensive overall. Hamilton rushed for 106 yards on 20 carries to go with his touchdown in the setback for the Panthers, while Edwards completed 18-of-31 attempts for 117 yards for the visitors that included four connections each with sophomores Zach Swanson (Meredith, N.H.) and Ryan Milliken (Lebanon, N.H.).
Sophomore Jacob Burkhead (Plymouth, Mass.) recorded eight total tackles for a UMass Dartmouth defensive unit that allowed 260 yards on the evening, while juniors Tony Slaughter (Springfield, Mass.) and Connor Russ (Middletown, R.I.) each had seven stops for the Corsairs. Sophomore Matt Tosone (Walpole, Mass.) and senior Grant McGregor (Burlington, Conn.) had nine total stops each for Plymouth State, which received eight tackles from senior Brady LaFrance (West Paris, Maine).
UMass Dartmouth, which is off to its best overall start in three years, heads to Danbury, Conn. next Saturday afternoon to square off with Western Connecticut in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference outing that kicks off at 5:00 pm, while Plymouth State hosts Worcester State in a MASCAC encounter next Saturday afternoon in Plymouth, N.H. that kicks off at 1:00 pm.