First Half Surge Lifts Football To 49-21 Season Opening Win At Alfred State

First Half Surge Lifts Football To 49-21 Season Opening Win At Alfred State

ALFRED, N.Y. --  Sophomore quarterback Stephen Gacioch (Tiverton, R.I.) threw for 185 yards and four touchdowns to lead UMass Dartmouth to a 49-21 non-league college football victory over Alfred State in the season opener for both schools Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Stadium.

The visiting Corsairs (1-0) grabbed the early edge when Gacioch connected with sophomore DJ Machado (Swansea, Mass.) on a 26-yard scoring strike, and freshman Devante Greaves (Raynham, Mass.) extended that margin to 14-0 late in the opening quarter with his first career visit to the end zone from 10 yards out that capped a 12-play, 95-yard drive.  Freshman Steffan Gravely (Lynn, Mass.) gave UMass Dartmouth a 21-0 cushion just 2:18 into the second stanza when he scored his first collegiate touchdown from 12 yards out, and Gacioch extended the visitors' advantage to 35-0 at the break after tossing a pair of touchdown passes to Machado and sophomore Leroy Brown (Milton, Mass.) in the final 5:45 of the half.

After an interception by junior Tony Slaughter (Springfield, Mass.) set up the Corsairs at the host Pioneers' (0-1) 33-yard line, junior quarterback Jace Pena's (Riverside, R.I.) one-yard scoring scamper midway through the third quarter gave the visitors a 49-0 cushion with 6:54 to play in the period.  Freshman Ronnie Clark (Philadelphia, N.Y.) got Alfred State on the board with 3:04 remaining in the frame on a 24-yard touchdown run, but UMass Dartmouth increased its advantage to 49-7 with 7:54 to play in the contest when Pena connected with freshman Adam Washington (Lynn, Mass.) on a nine-yard strike that capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive.  The Pioneers accounted for the final margin with a pair of touchdowns in the closing 5:13 of action, as junior quarterback Dashown Wilson (Bronx, N.Y.) connected with fellow junior Jalen Long (Rochester, N.Y.) on a 32-yard pass before tossing a 46-yard scoring strike to junior Ricky Hagins (Rochester, N.Y.) with 20 seconds remaining.

Gravely (84) and Greaves (48) combined for 132 of UMass Dartmouth's 235 rushing yards on the day, as Gacioch completed 16-of-24 pass attempts and added 46 rushing yards to finish with 231 yards of total offense.  Machado and Brown each hauled in four receptions for a combined 109 yards to go with their scores for the Corsairs, who receive five catches for 35 yards from senior Matt Mitchell (Westerly, R.I.) along with four receptions from Gravely.  The visitors ran 81 plays in amassing 465 yards of total offense for the contest and outgained the hosts by a 235-76 margin on the ground.

Wilson completed 16-of-32 pass attempts for 299 yards to go with his two touchdowns in the setback for Alfred State, as Long hauled in nine receptions for 173 yards alone.  Clark rushed for 50 yards on 17 carries for the Pioneers, who collected 375 yards of total offense while running 67 plays for the contest.

Sophomore Jacob Burkhead (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth North) paced UMass Dartmouth defensively with 10 total tackles (seven solo), while Slaughter added seven stops to go with his interception.  Junior Dwayne Hunter-Parker (Waterbury, Conn.) and senior Ryan Bucko (Montgomery, Mass.) each added four tackles for the Corsairs, who received fumble recoveries from senior Jonathan Cistrunk (Alpharetta, Ga.) and sophomore Sam Krajewski (Taunton, Mass.).

Junior Michael Zimmerman (Canandaigua, N.Y.) recorded 10 stops (five solo) to lead the way on the defensive side for Alfred State, which receive eight total tackles (four solo) and a sack from senior John Lauretti (Seaford, N.Y.).  Sophomore Josh Smith (Fredericksburg, Va.) chipped in with seven stops and a pair of pass break-ups on the afternoon for the Pioneers in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

UMass Dartmouth hosts 17th-ranked Delaware Valley in its home opener next Saturday afternoon at Cressy Field that kicks off at Noon, while Alfred State heads to Oneonta, N.Y. next Saturday afternoon to square off with Hartwick in a non-league clash that kicks off at 5:00 pm.