Neither team gave an inch in the first half, but a fourth-quarter scoring frenzy saw the visiting Bridgewater State University football team come out on top to claim the coveted Cranberry Scoop for the second straight year.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy held the Bears scoreless in the first half, but the Bucs couldn’t find the end zone either. Then the two teams combined to score 34 fourth-quarter points, including BSU erasing a 15-point deficit late to score a 26-21 win on Saturday, November 16, at Clean Harbors Stadium.
Senior quarterback Matt Long rushed for three touchdowns in the game—his third giving the Bucs a 21-6 lead with 11:43 left in the game. Then the Bears offense scored three unanswered touchdowns—two passes from quarterback Stefano D’Emilia and a one-yard dive from the Bears’ signal caller. D’Emilia capped an eight-play, 58-yard drive with the one-yard rushing score to close within nine points, 21-12. Following a three-and-out from the Bucs defense, D’Emilia linked up with Nathan Ellis for a 14-yard touchdown strike that pulled BSU within two points, 21-19, with 4:24 left. Bucs’ special teamer Peter Banks blocked the extra point to keep the MMA lead at two points.
MMA was forced to punt after gaining 17 yards on four plays and were forced to punt the ball back to Bridgewater State with 3:19 left. The Bears methodically worked its way 68 yards down field before D’Emilia gave his team their first lead of the game after completing a 10-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Hairston with 22 seconds remaining in the game.
The Bucs were able to cross midfield, but the hopeful comeback drive stalled out at the 44-yard line. Bridgewater State won the 41st annual Cranberry Bowl presented by A&A Metro Transportation and hold a 33-12-1 all-time lead in the matchup. The two teams met five times prior to the arrival of the Cranberry Bowl in 1974.
Long finished his final collegiate game with 94 rushing yards to go with his three scores as well as 63 passing yards on 3-of-12 passing. On the season, Long lead the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference in rushing touchdowns (22) and was second in rushing yards (986). Will Bennett hauled in two receptions for 28 yards while Ja’iel Johnson rushed for 30 yards on eight attempts.
Defensively, the Bucs forced four turnovers in the game with interceptions from Kyle Rogers, Hunter Leveille, Benjamin Jordan and a fumble recovery from Colin McCabe. Kyle Johnston added seven tackles, three for loss and a sack. Johntson, a senior from Bridgewater, finished the year with a MASCAC-leading 12.5 sacks. Senior linebacker Jack Fontana led the lead in tackles with 103.
Senior punter George Lampros kicked seven times for an average of 38.6 yards per punt and a total of 270 yards.
D’Emilia finished the game completing 20-of-38 passes for 174 yards, two touchdowns and three picks while adding two rushing scores on 40 yards. For his efforts D’Emilia was presented with the Lee Harrington MVP trophy. Running back Nick Santavicca had a game-high 139 yards on 25 attempts.
With a record of 6-4 and 4-4 in the conference, the 2019 campaign ends as the best finish to a season since 1999 and the best record for head coach Jeremy Cameron with the Bucs. Their season began with back-to-back wins against SUNY Maritime and Maine Maritime in the Chowder Bowl and Admiral’s Cup, respectively.