By Matt Noonan
BRIDGEWATER, MA – On Friday evening, Framingham State’s football team exhibited why they were a New England Football Conference preseason favorite by defeating Bogan Division rival Bridgewater State, 16-0.
“This was special,” exclaimed Framingham State head coach Tom Kelley. “I thought turnovers and penalties were going to be huge and it was and that was maybe the difference.
“Our defense just came up huge and we were really, really concerned about [our opponent’s] running game, but we shut the running game down and we knew if we made them pass that we had a real good shot [of earning our first Bogan Division win].”
The Rams defense held the Bears to 148 yards of total offense (30 yards on the ground), along with seven first downs.
Bridgewater State’s quarterback Mike McCarthy, who registered two scores on the ground last weekend against Endicott College, finished Friday’s affair 13-of-32 for 118 yards with two interceptions. He also ran 11 times, but accounted for 10 negative yards, too.
“We knew we had it in us. We just had to come out, play hard and just basically come out here and play,” stated Framingham State’s Jeff Touron, who concluded the contest with three solo tackles and two sacks.
Both squads began the game with similar drives, which resulted in missed field goals. Yet, the Rams managed to capitalize on the Bears first mistake of the evening, a fumble by Blaise Branch that resulted in a two-yard touchdown by quarterback Matthew Mangano five plays later.
The Bears attempted to respond, but numerous penalties halted drives and allowed Framingham State the opportunity to double their lead with a nine-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Matthew Silva to Philip Clain with nine seconds remaining in the first half, which provided the Rams with a 14-0 cushion at the break.
“[Those two scores] definitely boosted everyone’s morale and everyone really, really believed in it,” explained Framingham State running back Melikke Van Alstyne, who finished with 107 yards on 30 carries.
“We already believed [we could win this game], but that [provided] a little poke right there,” added Van Alstyne.
Bridgewater State started with the ball once the second half commenced, but Framingham State’s defense forced the Bears to punt four times.
The Rams offense struggled to move the ball in the second half, too, so the defense went to work and not only recorded a safety early in the fourth quarter, but also a game-clinching interception by Ony Ramos on the Bears final drive.
“Coming off the block [prior to recording the safety], most of their plays were just all sprint outs and in that situation, down and distance I figured it’s going to be a sprint out one way or another, [and] as soon I came off the block all I saw was [their] quarterback [and] there wasn’t a tailback in my way and I just capitalized on the opportunity,” Touron said of safety.
“Basically at the half, coaches told us [to] stay composed, do our assignment and plays will come to us, just make the play when you have the opportunity.”
Coach Kelley added, “We had to take the edge away from [Mike McCarthy]. He was rolling out and he was getting some pretty good looks from his receivers, and he’s a good athlete, he killed us last year with his feet, so we thought if we kept him in the pocket we’d have a pretty good chance of being successful.”
Framingham State has now won three consecutive games against Bridgewater State, which dates back to 2009. The Rams have also strung together three wins since their opening day loss to the Gulls, too.