First place was on the line in Danbury, Connecticut, over the weekend. Unfortunately for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy football team, Western Connecticut State defended its home turf and took control of the MASCAC.
On Saturday, October 12, the Bucs fell behind early in the fourth quarter and could never fully recover en route to their first loss of the season, 38-21.
The Colonials wasted little time, scoring touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions to jump out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. First, they capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a three-yard rushing score. On their next possession, after a three-and-out from the Bucs’ offense, Western Connecticut embarked on a seven-play, 96-yard drive that featured a 39-yard touchdown catch from David James to Nick Kimball.
Though MMA was down, they weren’t out. The Bucs answered with a 12-play drive of their own with quarterback Matt Long punching it in from the one-yard line to pull within a score, 14-7, with 12:35 left in the first half. The Colonials, however, pushed their lead back to two scores, 21-7, just before halftime after James hooked up with Kimball again for a 28-yard TD pass.
A 27-yard field for the hosts to open the second half put them out in front, 24-7, but the Bucs would make it a game in the third quarter. Ja’iel Johnson scored on a 12-yard run that finished off another double-digit play drive to cut MMA’s deficit to 10 points, 24-14. Then, on the Colonials ensuing offensive possession, MMA cornerback Austin Stahmer picked off a ball and returned it 29 yards into enemy territory.
With the short field, the Bucs’ offense needed only six plays to score, highlighted by a 26-yard touchdown catch from Will Bennett from Ty Ebdon. The score closed MMA within three points, 24-21, with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
But Western Connecticut would score the final two touchdowns as the Bucs couldn’t find the endzone again as they suffered their first loss of the season.
Long rushed for 34 yards as the team was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time this year. But Long did continue his stretch of five-straight games with a rushing touchdown. Bennett hauled in five passes for 86 yards including a touchdown. The defense forced two turnovers, including Hunter Leveille’s forced fumble and recovery, while generating three sacks.
Up next, the Bucs welcome Fitchburg State to Clean Harbors Stadium on Saturday, October 19, at noon. Fitchburg enters the game with a record of 1-5 and have yet to win in MASCAC play in four chances. They are coming off a 56-7 home loss to Framingham State and have lost four-straight games.
The Falcons are scoring an anemic 6.3 points per game on 190 total offensive yards while allowing 43 points per game defensively and 392 total yards.
THE PICK: MMA 38, Fitchburg State 0—It would appear the Falcons are the perfect remedy for a Bucs team that suffered their first loss of the season. They’ve scored a touchdown or fewer in all six games this season and an angry MMA defense will be ready to smell blood in the water.