The Homecoming game for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s football team may not have started the way the Bucs had hoped for, but the end result was well worth the wait.
Hosting Worcester State University on Saturday, October 5 at Clean Harbors Stadium, the Bucs responded from a 13-7 deficit to score 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to score a 28-13 win and remain unbeaten on the season.
Quarterback Matt Long rushed for three touchdowns on the afternoon—of the three-yard, 41-yard and five-yard varieties, respectively—and totaled 187 yards on the ground and through the air for MMA. But through three quarters, the home team could only muster seven points against the winless Lancer defense.
WSU got on the board first when quarterback Aaron-Moses Williams connected with freshman receiver Cam Kergo, a Mashpee native, on a 30-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Following Long’s first rushing score that tied the game, 7-7, through halftime, Williams and Kergo hooked up for a 50-yard touchdown pass and catch that put the Lancers up 13-7.
Williams completed 30-of-41 passes for 405 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Kergo hauled in 10 catches for 140 yards and two receiving scores for WSU. Colin Robinson also gave the Bucs’ defense problems from the receiver spot, as he caught seven balls for 156 yards. But when it mattered most the MMA defense made its impact felt. The unit finished with 11 sacks, an interception and three fumbles recovered.
Junior defensive lineman Colin McCabe highlighted the defense with three sacks and one more quarterback hit and came up with two fumble recovers. The last recovery occurred in the fourth quarter with 3:33 left when McCabe hopped on a fumble in the endzone that proved to be the insurance score for the Buccaneers. Fellow defensive lineman Kyle Johnston also had three sacks and added two forced fumbles while Hugh Wells had 1.5 sacks. Jack Fontana finished with a team-high 14 tackles and a sack.
To start the fourth quarter, Long capped a five-play, 80-yard drive with a 41-yard scamper that put the Bucs ahead for good 14-13 with 12:09 left in the game.
On the Lancers’ ensuring offensive drive, Peter Banks intercepted Williams on their fifth play from scrimmage and returned the pick to Worcester State’s eight-yard line that set up Long’s five-yard touchdown run two plays later to increase MMA’s lead 21-13 with 9:55 in the fourth quarter.
In the win, MMA climbed the Grinold New England Chapter Division III Football Rankings to a tie for seventh place, up from last week’s standing of 10th. They are tied with UMass Dartmouth (4-1). It’s the first time since 2000 that Bucs have played to a 4-0 start on a season.
Looking ahead, the team travels to Danbury, CT to meet Western Connecticut (4-0) in a battle of unbeatens. It’s a law of inertia game as the unstoppable force of the Colonials’ offense meets the immovable object of the Buccaneers’ defense. The game will be played at 5 PM and is Western Connecticut’s homecoming game.
The Colonials are second in the New England rankings and are coming off a bye week. In their last game, the Colonials beat Worcester State on the road, 42-28. They’ve also scored 40 or more points in their last three games. In total Western Connecticut has averages of 113 rushing yards and 273 passing yards for a scoring average of 34.3 while yielding 85 rushing yards, 252 passing yards and 21.5 points per game on defense.
On the flip side, MMA is giving up 13.8 points per game on 75.8 rushing yards and 215 passing yards per game while they boast 33 points per game on 206 rushing yards and 125 passing yards. Long has scored three touchdowns in all four of his games played.
THE PICK: MMA 32, Western Connecticut 28—The clock has yet to strike midnight on the Cinderella season the Bucs are putting forth. And though it may be October, naysayers will have to wait another week to see MMA turn back into a pumpkin. The Academy scores a key road to make their climb through the MASCAC even more legitimate.