By Brian Willwerth
BRIDGEWATER, MA – On a spectacular Saturday afternoon for football, Bridgewater State established itself as one of the teams to beat in the New England Football Conference (NEFC).
The Bears’ quarterback put on a show, the defense held a high-powered offense in check for most of the game, and the end result: a 20-14 victory over Endicott College, in a battle of 2-0 teams.
BSU got on the board first, taking advantage of an Adam Toman fumble recovery deep in Gulls’ territory. Jarred Diorio split the uprights from 35 yards out to put the Bears up 3-0. They doubled their lead on their next drive when Diorio was good again, this time from 26.
In the second quarter, Bears quarterback Mike McCarthy capped off a 15-play, 78-yard drive by sneaking it in from two yards out. With the two-point conversion, the hosts were up 14-0 at the half.
During the first 30 minutes, the defense held the Gulls offense in check. This was an Endicott team that had scored 100 points in the first two games. But quarterback Drew Frenette was intercepted once in the half, and Endicott missed a pair of field goals, one of which hit the upright just before halftime.
The Mike McCarthy show continued in the second half. Doing more with his feet than his arm, the junior from Edgartown scampered 31 yards for his second score of the day, capping off an 80-yard drive. The extra point was blocked, but Bridgewater State still had a 20-0 advantage. McCarthy finished as his team’s leading rusher, with 144 yards on 20 carries. Blaise Branch also broke the 100-yard plateau on the day, tallying 103 of the Bears’ 307 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, Bridgewater State continued to pitch a shutout for three quarters. When the Gulls threatened late in the third, Brian Smith came up big, picking off Frenette in the end zone.
Down by 20 entering the final period, fans quickly saw that you can’t keep this Endicott offense down forever. Using a hurry-up mode, Frenette led his team on a pair of 76-yard drives. Both drives ended with touchdown passes to Greg Dellorco. All of a sudden, it was a six-point game. And it left some of us wondering: would that blocked PAT end up being a factor?
Things got really interesting when Nick Kozlowski blocked a punt on the ensuing Bears possession, setting the Gulls up with great field position. Momentum had clearly swung to the visitors. But on fourth and sixth, Justin Cruz came up with a huge tackle, preventing Jimmy Nguyen from picking up a first down after catching the pass. The Bears took over with more than five minutes remaining, and were able to grind out the clock the rest of the way.
Frenette finished 27-of-35 for 219 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Mike Wheeler and Jared DiBiase combined to rush for 125 yards for the Gulls.
The Bears are 3-0 for the first time since 2005. They’ll take on Framingham State on Friday night. Endicott will stay on the road to face Salve Regina.