Mass. College Football: WSU Tops WPI, 15-14

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Worcester State sports information department, here’s Friday’s release about the Lancers football team defeating crosstown rival WPI, 15-14:

Worcester, MA — Worcester State junior Jack Sprague (Maynard, MA) hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass on fourth-down from classmate Pat Viencek (Bernardston, MA) with 37 seconds left in regulation to help lead the Lancers to a 15-14 victory over crosstown rival WPI in non-conference football action this evening at Coughlin Field.

The Blue and Gold (2-0) have now won three in a row over the Engineers (1-1) who hold the all-time series edge at 14-7. All three wins for WSU have come with under six minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Following an interception by freshman Carrick Driscoll (E. Longmeadow, MA) that helped set Worcester State up on their own 20 with 2:37 remaining in the game, Viencek made several clutch passes to help the Lancers overcome the late deficit.

Facing third and 15 on their own 37, junior Casey Hippert (Douglas, MA) snatched a 21-yard completion as he sprinted into enemy territory on the WPI 42.

After a key pass interference call put WSU on the Engineer 34, Sprague kept the chains moving with a 14-yard catch to get into the red zone.

With under one minute to play, WPI freshman Kevin Lynch (E. Bridgewater, MA) diagnosed a screen pass that went for a tackle for a loss on first down and then junior Vincent Samuel (Merrick, NY) swatted a pass at the line of scrimmage on third and 12.

That set the stage for Viencek’s heroics as he completed the fourth down play to Sprague for what proved to be the game-winning score.

Worcester State claimed the early 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal by senior Alex Blakeslee (Shrewsbury, MA) on their first possession with 11:26 remaining in the opening quarter.

On the Engineers second series of the contest, junior Zach Grasis (E. Brookfield, MA) coughed up the ball on their own nine to put the Lancers in great field position.

After the visitors nearly stonewalled the hosts at the goal line, the Blue and Gold drew up a fake field goal play to extend the lead to 9-0 on an eight-yard scoring strike from Driscoll to junior Zack Skerry (Milford, MA) with 3:59 in the first quarter.

WPI immediately responded with a 41-yard flick by senior John Antonopoulos (Cambridge, MA) to classmate Ehab Hamdan (Revere, MA) with 1:45 on the clock. Hamdan snuck behind the secondary on a curl route and he streaked into the end zone for the score.

Both defenses locked heads for a scoreless second as Worcester State maintained their 9-6 margin at the intermission.

Early in the third, the Engineers took the 12-9 edge on a four-yard plunge by Grasis with 11:42 on the clock. WPI took advantage of a muffed punt return that was recovered on the WSU eight yard-line.

With 1:53 remaining in the stanza, Lynch darted through the line and blocked a Lancer punt at the 15 that rolled through the back of the end zone for a safety to make it a 14-9 contest.

In the fourth quarter, the hosts were stopped twice on fourth down by the Engineer defense and on their last series, the Boynton Hillers took over on their own 32 with 8:30 left in the game.

WPI drove into Lancer territory, but were halted on fourth down by Driscoll’s clutch interception in the end zone.

Viencek amassed 260 yards passing on the day for the Lancers in relief of injured junior Kevin Bumpus (Bridgewater, MA), completing 18-of-37 of his pass attempts.  Bumpus, the reigning Division II/III Gold Helmet award winner, was 10-for-21 for 103 yards before exiting midway through the second quarter.

Hippert led all players with 183 receiving yards on eight catches while senior AJ Scerra (Marlboro, MA) hauled in a game-best 11 passes for 76 yards. Junior Dana Valentine (Roxbury, MA) added 54 yards on the ground to go with four receptions for 40 yards.

Senior Adam Straughn (Rockland, MA) paced all players with 12 tackles (10 solo) while classmate Nick Doria (Watertown, MA) chipped in with seven solo stops. Skerry added to his strong day up front for WSU with six tackles, including a pair of sacks.

Lynch led the defensive effort for WPI as he registered a team-best 10 tackles (eight solo) to go along with a pair of pass breakups and the blocked punt. Junior Robert Harasimowicz (Gardner, MA) added eight stops while Samuel was credited with a sack and half.

Grasis totaled 77 yards on 28 carries and the touchdown. Antonopoulos finished 15-for-27 for 152 yards and one score. Hamdan paced the receiving corps with six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown while senior Jake Konowitch (Northampton, MA) and junior Larry McGillicuddy (Stow, MA) both hauled in a pair of pass receptions.

Worcester State nearly enjoyed a 2-1 edge in totals yards (415-210) and doubled up the Engineers on first downs (24-12).  WPI turned the ball over four times while the Lancers had only one possession-changing miscue. The Crimson and Gray did have a 32:38-27:22 bulge in time on the field.

Worcester State opens up MASCAC play next Friday night traveling to NCAA Division III Bridgewater State at 7 PM. WPI wraps up its non-conference slate by entertaining Norwich next Saturday at 1 o’clock.

Mass. College Football: Bumpus Leads Worcester State Past Anna Maria

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Worcester State University athletic department, here’s today’s release from the Lancers football game. Led by junior quarterback Kevin Bumpus, the Lancers defeated Anna Maria in both teams season opener, 34-6. Here’s the release:

Paxton, MA — Junior Kevin Bumpus (Bridgewater, MA) aired out a school-record 427 yards passing to go with four touchdowns as he propelled Worcester State to a 34-6 victory over Anna Maria in non-conference football action this afternoon.

Bumpus, who went 20-for-35 for the contest, eclipsed the previous mark (419 yards) set last season by Corey Spencer in win over Fitchburg State.

The Lancers (1-0) were also led by junior Casey Hippert (Douglas, MA) hauled in five receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown while classmate Jack Sprague (Maynard, MA) caught four balls for 113 yards.

Senior AJ Scerra (Marlboro, MA) finished with two catches for 103 yards and one score.

Junior Dana Valentine amassed 92 all-purpose yards and found the end-zone twice in his first game since transferring from Salisbury University.

For the AMCATS (0-1), senior Robert Small (Sleepy Hollow, NY) scampered for 140 yards and one touchdown to pace the hosts.

After Anna Maria failed to take advantage of a fumble on the opening kickoff by the Lancers, Bumpus wasted little time by hitting Scerra in stride on a 66-yard scoring strike with their first play from scrimmage to put the visitors ahead 7-0 early with 12:20 on the clock in the first quarter.

Both squads then traded possessions before the Lancers went on an 11-play, 83 yard drive that culminated in a two-yard plunge by Valentine with 14:32 left in the second quarter.

The Lancers scored twice more in the opening frame when Bumpus fired a seven-yard touchdown flick to junior Dana Barry (Hudson, MA) at the 7:23 mark (PAT blocked) and a 23-yard scoring reception by Hippert with 3:05 remaining for the 27-0 lead at the intermission.

Coming out of the locker room, the AMCATS broke the shutout on an 84-yard burst by Small on their first play of the third quarter (PAT failed).

But the scamper, which became Anna Maria’s second-longest run in program history, marked the only score of the third stanza as both squads were unsuccessful on getting into the red zone on their next three possessions.

With under three-minutes to go in the third, the Lancers had a great chance to increase their margin, but a pass interference penalty on the 11-yardline set-up a long field goal try that was missed by senior Alex Blakeslee (Shrewsbury, MA).

The Blue and Gold, however, held the hosts in check on their next series to set-up a nine-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown screen pass from Bumpus to Valentine for the 34-6 edge.

The AMCATS had two more chances in the fourth quarter to get back into the game, but they were stopped both times by the stingy Lancer defense who only yielded 59 yards of total offense in the final period of play.

To pace the Blue and Gold defensively, junior Bryan Narcisse (Medway, MA) collected 13 tackles (nine solo) for an eye-popping seven tackles for a loss – including four sacks for 34 yards.

Junior Zach Skerry (Milford, MA) chipped in with eight tackles (six solo), one sack and a forced fumble as teammate Matthew Begley (E. Bridgewater, MA) notched four solo stops and two tackles for a loss.

In the secondary, rookie Rafael Guzman (Cambridge, MA) had a day with a pair of solo tackles, one interception and two pass deflections.

Sophomore Tyler Rocha (Cranston, RI) led Anna Maria with six tackles, 2.5 TFL and one sack while freshman Deon Brown (Dunellen, NJ) impressed with three solo tackles, one caused miscue and a pair of break-ups.

Second-year Chris Bettano (Tewksbury, MA) did a little bit of everything with 123 all-purpose yards – 89 coming off of five kickoff returns. Blakeslee averaged 35.8 yards on six punts – with three inside the 20 yard line – and he was four-for-five on PAT’s.

Worcester State led in first downs (19-13) and had nearly twice as much total offense as their opponents (462-239), but the AMCATS actually controlled time of possession (35:20-24:40).

With his touchdown, two receptions and yardage this afternoon, Scerra moved into a tie with Jeremy Gaucher (2002-05) with 143 catches, into sole possession of third place with 20 career touchdowns and he moved past Jeremy Frisch (1999-01) into fourth with 1,934 yards.

In the next week the Lancers will host WPI this Friday at 7 PM on Friday while Anna Maria takes a road trip to Maine Maritime on Saturday for a 12 o’clock meeting with the Mariners.

Mass. College Football: Worcester State Season Preview

AJ Scerra will be one of the team's four captains this season! (Photo Credit: Worcester State University Athletics)
AJ Scerra will be one of the team’s four captains this season! (Photo Credit: Worcester State University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Worcester State University athletic department, here’s the football team’s season preview:

A veteran crew looks to take the field in 2013 as the Worcester State Lancers try to contend for this year’s Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference title.

“We are looking pretty good on both sides of the ball,” said 31st year head coach Brien Cullen ‘77 (156-120). “If we stay healthy, we should be competitive.”

Battling for the open quarterback position left vacant by All-New England Football Conference signal caller Corey Spencer will be junior Kevin Bumpus (Bridgewater, MA) and third-year transfer Pat Viencik (Bernardston, MA).

Bumpus, who transferred in from Assumption last season, passed for 1,220 yards and rushed for 230 yards in eight games during the 2011 campaign for the Greyhounds as the Worcester Area Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Vinecek tossed for 2,009 yards and 14 touchdowns in nine games as the primary quarterback at Nichols in 2012.

At receiver, the group returns a talented cast that includes senior AJ Scerra (Marlboro, MA) along with junior classmates Dana Barry (Hudson, MA), Jack Sprague (Maynard, MA) and Josh Fortin (Danielson, CT).

Scerra, who was tabbed with D3football.com All-Northeast Region accolades, hauled in a school-record 85 receptions to go with 958 yards and eight scores last season. Scerra is just 21 catches, 1,200 yards and five touchdowns away from setting all-time Worcester State records.

Junior Casey Hippert (Douglas, MA) provides the offense with another solid moving target from the tight-end position as he has 47 catches for 779 yards and eight TDs in his first two campaigns since matriculating from Sacred Heart.

Third-year Mike Dance (Rocky Hill, CT) and sophomore DaShawn Taylor (Ayer, MA) return to anchor the running game while sophomore transfer Matt Lezama (Milton, MA) provides some depth for the Lancers at the position. Dance and Taylor combined to rush for 521 yards and four touchdowns a year ago.

The Blue and Gold bring back a deep offensive line that includes senior teammates Kyle Morris (Walpole, MA), Mac Hanlon (Littleton, MA) and Tim Laramee (Shrewsbury, MA).

Newcomers to the squad’s primary blocking unit include sophomore transfer Zach Pappas (Worcester, MA/St. Peter-Marian) who started seven games at Framingham State and first-year Cody Curelop (Mansfield, MA).

Junior Bryan Narcisse (Medway, MA) underscores eight returning starters on defense for the Lancers.

Narcisse, who was honored with D3football.com All-Northeast Region laurels as a defensive end, registered 67 tackles – 18.5 of which were for a loss – including 6.5 sacks for 61 yards and two forced fumbles.

Third-year Zach Skerry (Milford, MA) lines up on the other side of Narcisse and at the nose, sophomore Conor Sayles (Hopedale, MA) receives the nod.

Junior Kevin Coonan (Worcester, MA/Burncoat)  reinforces the core up front for the Blue and Gold.

At linebacker, seniors Matt Begley (E. Bridgewater, MA) and Adam Straughn (Rockland, MA) return to plug up the holes up the middle.

Begley, an All-NEFC pick, led the team with 70 tackles (51 solo) and he did a little bit of everything with a trio of interceptions, three sacks and four pass break-ups.  Straughn tries to pick up from where he left off last year as he notched 57 stops (39 solo), 6.5 tackles for a loss and four blocked kicks.

On the outside, senior Nick Doria (Watertown, MA), junior Justin Pennellatore (Mansfield, MA) and sophomore Zach Arsenault (Lancaster, MA) adds a solid presence to the Lancer pass rush.

Second-year teammates Bryan Gencarelli (Waterford, CT) and Samie Jean (Malden, MA) provide a veteran presence in the secondary. Also, look for junior Mike Goulden (Rehoboth, MA) and freshman Markiesh Harmon (Leominster, MA) to break-up passes at cornerback.

Scerra will handle a bulk of the return specialist duties while senior Alex Blakeslee (Shrewsbury, MA) comes back to take over the punting and kicking for the squad.  Blakeslee booted 33.8 yards per punt to go with eight touchbacks.

Worcester State plays their 2013 campaign in the newly formed MASCAC after competing for 26 years in the NEFC.

The Blue and Gold kick off the season with Anna Maria on September 7 on the road and WPI on September 13 at home before they begin league play with NCAA Division III Tournament participant Bridgewater State under the lights of Swenson Field on September 20 in Bridgewater.

The Lancers then take on Mass Maritime on September 28 at home before the bye week. After a pair of road games at Fitchburg State (October 12) and UMass Dartmouth (October 19), the Blue and Gold face off against Western Connecticut for the first-time on October 21 in their annual homecoming game.

WSU heads to New Hampshire to start off the next month with Plymouth State on November 2 followed by Westfield State (November 9) and NEFC Champion Framingham State (November 16) in the friendly confines of Coughlin Field.

Worcester State Football Preview

By NoontimeSports.com 

Worcester State University’s Steve Miller Jr., the Sports Information Director, provided a release of the upcoming Lancers football season on Friday, which we have provided below:

WORCESTER, MA – Building off of last year’s 8-3 record and ECAC Division III Northeast Bowl appearance, the 2012 Worcester State Lancers look to be in the mix once again for this year’s New England Football Conference (NEFC) crown.

“We have a lot of new faces, we are coming off a very good spring and a lot of the players on the roster who have been waiting in the wings are going to get chances to step in and play for us this season,” said 30th year head coach Brien Cullen ’77 (150-116).

The offense will be propelled by senior signal caller Corey Spencer (Malden, MA), who was the primary backup to All-NEFC quarterback Tony Tokarz in each of the last two seasons, Spencer has thrown for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Last season, Spencer came off the bench and helped lead WSU to a 42-40 triple overtime triumph over Westfield State with a throwing score and the game-winning two-point conversion toss.

Spencer, who will be backed up by 2011 Worcester Area Offensive Rookie of the Year Kevin Bumpas (Bridgewater, MA), who transfers in from Assumption. In a stellar first-year campaign, Bumpas had 1,220 yards in the air and 230 on the ground with five passing touchdowns.

In the mix at running back to replace two-time All-NEFC halfback Marcus Price, who rushed for back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, will be sophomore classmates Kemani Jones (Milton, MA), Michael Dance (Rocky Hill, CT), Stephen Payen (Claremont, FL) and Colby Brochu (Northbridge, MA).

A talented and deep group of wide receivers returns to help anchor the squad’s offense. Just halfway to becoming the all-time leading touchdown reception leader, All-NEFC junior AJ Scerra (Marlboro, MA) comes off a breakout campaign that saw him haul in 43 passes for 635 yards and 10 TDs.

Senior Justin DeAndrade (E. Bridgewater, MA) and sophomore Jack Sprague (Maynard, MA) should also see some passes thrown in their direction. Look for first-year newcomers Nick Riley, Mike Turpak (Marlboro, MA) and EJ Yearwood to make an impact in the receiving game.

Second-year All-NEFC tight end Casey Hibbert (Northbridge, MA) figures to be a big part of the passing game along with classmate Parris Nathan (Randolph, MA). In addition to providing a solid blocking presence for the conferences third-highest rushing attack (202.6 YPG), Hibbert caught 19 passes for 329 yards to go with a pair of scores.

Juniors Kyle Morris (Foxboro, MA) and Matt Popino (Metuchen, NJ) and sophomore teammates Dakota Cullen (Mansfield, MA), Mac Hanlon (Littleton, MA) and Tim Laramee (Shrewsbury, MA) all come back with another year of experience to help anchor the offensive line.

The defensive line returns five solid starters that should give opposing coaches headaches during the course of the season. 2010 All-NEFC honoree, senior Joe Sweet (Walpole, MA) comes back from a season-ending injury while junior Bryan Narcisse (Medway, MA) looks to build on his stellar campaign that saw him record 5.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss. Narcisse’s totals were both second on the squad in 2011.

WSU also brings back sophomore Tyler Asam (Milford, MA)– the reigning NEFC Bogan Division Defensive Rookie of the Year – who finished with 11 tackles for a loss that included a trio of sacks. Second-year classmates Matt Intrieri (Westerly, RI) and Zach Skerry (Milford, MA) round out the core up front for the Blue and Gold.

At linebacker, juniors Matt Begley (E. Bridgewater, MA) and Nick Doria (Watertown, MA) along with sophomore Brian Orlando (Westboro, MA) should step right in to shore up the unit defensively.    

With 11 career interceptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns in 27 games, senior Graham Asum (Marlboro, MA) returns as the squad’s shutdown corner while junior Adam Straughn (Rockland, MA) and sophomore Sean Hanley (Wilmington, MA) will provide some depth in the secondary. Junior Adam Scerra (Marlboro, MA) comes in from Assumption also joins the cast in the backfield.

On special teams, junior Alex Blakeslee (Shrewsbury, MA) will return to handle the punting duties, third-year Derek Muccini (Upton, MA)comes back to take care of the placekicking and sophomore Richie Dube (Shrewsbury, MA) will assist on returns.

Dube, who was an all-NEFC return man and a Beyond-Sports Preseason All-American selection, had 23 punt returns for a school-record 331 yards with one touchdown.  Dube also led all Division III New England schools with 14.4 yards per return.

Scerra and Asum will also see some time handling kickoff returns.  Asum is just 575 yards away from resetting the all-time career kickoff yardage mark with 1,046 yards to his credit including three returns for scores.

The Lancers non-conference schedule starts off with a home game against Anna Maria on Friday, Aug. 31 before the squad heads across town to face off against city-rival WPI for a Sept. 8 tango. After traveling to NEFC Champion Western New England on Sep. 15, the Blue and Gold host Westfield State to open Bogan Division play on Sept. 22.

A pair of road contests against Maine Maritime (Sept. 29) and Bridgewater State (Oct. 13) sandwich a home rematch with Mass Maritime on Oct. 6, who handed WSU one of their three setbacks in 2011. After Worcester State hosts Coast Guard on Oct. 20, the Lancers entertain Fitchburg State on Oct. 27 in their annual homecoming contest.

The final game on the slate is a November 3 matchup against division champion Framingham State. Last season the Lancers capped off their sensational campaign with Coach Cullen’s 150th career win against the Rams.