By Brian Willwerth
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — Here are five takeaways from the University of New England’s 23-20 overtime victory over Bridgewater State on Saturday afternoon.
- The Nor’easters came back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force an extra session, and eventually win the game.
I talked to coach Mike Lichten and quarterback Matthew Harkins after the game, and they said one of the keys to victory was sticking to the game plan, even when playing from behind in the second half. And It worked.
UNE dominated the second half, and finally scored the game’s final two touchdowns, including the tying score with six remaining in the fourth quarter.
- UNE’s defense was exceptional in the second half, and was key part of their victory of the season.
After allowing 20 points and 359 yards of offense in the first half, the Nor’easters pitched a shutout and held the Bears to just 52 yards of total offense the rest of the way.
- Special teams were critical in this one.
OK, I’m sure every coach in the country can tell you something about that, but there were five missed kicks in this game, including two that ‘doinked’ off an upright. The only ball that went through the uprights was the field goal in overtime by Abe Ruelas Villasenor. He’s a freshman offensive lineman in addition to a kicker, and the Nor’easters’ blocking the Bears’ kick on the ensuing possesion resulted in a wild celebration, with UNE players rushing the field.
- Despite the setback, I was impressed by the Bears’ quarterback James Cahoon, who completed 18 of 31 pases for 308 yards and two touchdowns. And it was also a big game for wide receiver Kyle Torres, who finished with 184 yards and one score.
- Finally, one other player that was fun to watch — and yes, quite impressive — was halfback Adam Couch, who rushed for a season-high 101 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown. The Winchendon, Massachusetts native reached the end zone once last weekend against Ithaca College, but did not tally 100 yards on the ground. Instead, he finished his team’s season-opener against the Bombers with 68 yards.
Next up: Both teams return to the field next Saturday, September 18 with Bridgewater State hosting Plymouth State at 3 p.m. and UNE traveling to Alfred State for a 12 p.m. kickoff.