The Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s football team couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season.
With two wins against fellow maritime schools SUNY Maritime and Maine Maritime, 2019 marks the first time in six years that the Bucs possess both the Chowder and Admiral’s Cups. It also is the first time since 2013 that they have gotten off to a 2-0 start to the season.
They got there by traveling up to Castine, Maine, and jumping out to a 14-0 lead at halftime.
MMA will look to carry that momentum over to MASCAC play when the Bucs travel to Westfield State on Saturday, September 28, at 2 PM. First-year quarterback Matt Long scored two of his three rushing touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 35-7 lead in an eventual 42-21 win. Long finished the game 7-of-19 completions for 102 yards and two passing scores to go with 138 rushing yards and three more scores on the ground.
The insertion of Long has been the spark the Bucs’ offense has been in search of, as the team unit transitioned to a wildcat look. Long has thrown for 216 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing for 279 yards and six touchdowns. In the same backfield, sophomore Connor Reynolds has averaged 4.2 yards per carry on 30 rushing attempts in two games played so far to balance out the ground attack. And when they get into the red zone, they’ve found the end zone with regularity —scoring touchdowns in seven of the nine times MMA has been inside the 20-yard line.
But the real story of the offense has been the play of the offensive line. Through two games, the front line has yet to yield a sack and has only given up one quarterback hit.
While the offense has rolled thus far, averaging 36.5 points per game and 373 yards per game, the defense continues its strong end to last season. They’re allowing 17.5 points per game defensively and giving up 268 total yards of offense per game. The defense has generated four turnovers and has sacked the opposing quarterback eight times.
Against Westfield State, the Bucs will have a chance to improve all of those numbers, visiting an Owls team that has gone 0-3 early in the season. But don’t let the lack of wins fool you. Westfield State will be playing its Homecoming game after playing Union, a two-time Division III National Championship-appearing team, Western New England and defending MASCAC champion Framingham State. Those three teams have a combined record of 29-11 in their last 40 games.
The Owls have won the last two meetings with MMA, including a 38-24 win at Clean Harbors Stadium, and own the all-time series with a 21-16 advantage.
The veteran defense of Mass Maritime, specifically the secondary, will be tested by the Owls’ passing game. Receivers Cam Gallagher and Evan Garvey have combined for 28 catches for 287 yards and three touchdowns for the Owls from senior quarterback Jake Cassidy.
THE PICK: Mass Maritime 34, Westfield State 24—It’ll be a high-scoring affair in the western portion of the state, but Bucs improve to 3-0 with the big-play ability of Long—whether it be with his feet or his arm. The defense finds a way to stymie the Owls’ aerial attack long enough for its first conference win on the season.