By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11
Stefano D’Emilia recalls scoring four or five touchdowns in previous games, both in college and high school, but never recording eight touchdowns, which he did this past weekend to help Bridgewater State University score an important conference victory against UMass Dartmouth.
D’Emilia matched a single-game program record with five touchdown passes while adding three scores on the ground. He completed 15 of 27 passes for a school-record 345 yards, while also catching a two-point conversion in the opening half.
His impressive effort earned him a pair of weekly honors, including the Division II/III Gold Helmet Award by the New England Football Writers.
Two days after scoring eight touchdowns against the Corsairs, D’Emilia was happy to discuss his team’s win – the conversation shifted rather quickly from his eight touchdowns to the game plan his coaches drew up that allowed both him and his teammates to play what the senior signal-caller believes was their best game of the season.
“Honestly, all week we put in our game plan and our offensive coaches did an unbelievable job,” said D’Emilia, who has thrown for 17 touchdowns this season.
“Coach (Rene) Moyen and Coach (Pat) Callahan put us in a position to be successful on the field and it was a matter of us taking the game plan and running with it, but they put in some stuff that worked well (for us) and continued to work throughout the game, (but) that game plan we had was just unbelievable.”
The game plan not only allowed D’Emilia to flourish against a Corsairs defense, which has limited opposing quarterbacks to 234.7 passing yards per game this fall but also featured a Bears’ offensive line that did not yield a single sack for the first time this season.
D’Emilia lit up when discussing his offensive line – he calls this unit the “hardest workers in the room” – and was thankful for their effort to allow him to go through his progressions, while also paving holes for him to rush past the Corsairs defense for a game-high 53 yards.
“I can’t say enough about the offensive line,” said D’Emilia. “Every single day they come in and their goal is to get better, and without them nothing is possible.
“The quarterback is only as good as those front five and I am so lucky to play with them,” he added.
Seniors Michael Casey (center), Austin White (left guard), Nicholas Spinale (right guard), and Tyilin Landrum (right tackle), along with junior Daniel Flores Martinez (left tackle) and sophomore Alexander Byron (right tackle) make-up the Bears’ offensive line that has helped the offense register 400 total yards of offense in four of seven contests this season.
In addition to the offense, the Bears’ defense was impressive, too – they intercepted both UMass Dartmouth quarterbacks five times while combining for six tackles for a loss of 16 yards. The unit also recorded seven pass break-ups, while forcing a pair of fumbles.
“I think this is by far the most complete game we have played as a team thus far, but with that being said I don’t think this is as good as we can play,” said D’Emilia. “I think there is always room for improvement and our motto is that we can’t be satisfied.”
Not being satisfied was discussed quite a few times on the sidelines during their win against UMass Dartmouth even when leading 27-7 after one-quarter of play. It has become a rallying cry for these Bears, who began their current campaign with three-straight losses but are currently tied with Massachusetts Maritime Academy for second place in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC).
Bridgewater State is idle this weekend – they embark on an important three-game stretch beginning next Saturday, November 2nd against Plymouth State University – but are expected to utilize this downtime to get rested and ready so they can attempt to capture their second conference title since winning it in 2016.
Sure, D’Emilia and his teammates would probably love to play this weekend and continue their recent momentum, which began with a week four victory against Fitchburg State, but as the senior from Bridgewater, Massachusetts explains, “it will be good to get a few days off and get healthy, and regain what we have going.”