The scorching-hot start to the season continued on the road for Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s football team last Saturday, September 28.
Visiting Westfield State with an unblemished 2-0 record, the Bucs beat up the Owls to the tune of 31-7 to stay unbeaten in the first month of the season.
Quarterback Matt Long racked up 149 yards passing and 48 yards rushing and totaled three touchdowns for the third time this season to lead the Bucs’ new-look offense. He opened the game’s scoring with a four-yard run in the first quarter and followed that up with a six-yard run in the second quarter. His final touchdown of the afternoon came on a two-yard dive in the fourth quarter that put the score at 24-7. With nine rushing touchdowns through three games, Long leads the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference in touchdowns on the ground.
Sophomore Conner Reynolds led the team in rushing with 77 yards while Sandwich native Will Bennett was the leading receiver for MMA with three catches for 85 yards. Sophomore wideout Dane Campbell grabbed six receptions for 31 yards.
But while the offense possessed the ball for 33:18 in the game, it was the defense that stifled the Owls. MMA allowed just 33 yards on the ground and forced two turnovers. Austin Stahmer picked off his fourth pass of the season, which is not only the team high but also the high for the MASCAC. Then, on the final offensive play of the game for Westfield, sophomore Kyle Rogers returned an interception for 80 yards to the end zone for a score.
Linebacker Jack Fontana had a team-high 11 tackles in the win while defensive linemen Kyle Johnston and Colin McCabe totaled 12 tackles, two sacks and two more quarterback hurries. Through three games, the defense has given up a league-low 42 points — 11 fewer than Plymouth State’s 53 points allowed.
With a 3-0 record, MMA earned the No. 10 ranking in the Grinold Chapter New England Football Division III rankings. It is the first time the team has started the season 3-0 since 2000.
Now, the Buccaneers turn their attention to Worcester State as they return home for their homecoming game on Saturday, October 5, at noon. The Lancers are 0-4 following their 42-28 home loss to Western Connecticut State last Saturday. Offensively, Worcester State is scoring 11.8 points per game on 159.3 passing yards per game and 45.3 rushing yards. Defensive, they are allowing 34.8 points per game on 155.8 passing yards and 237.3 rushing yards. That appears to be a good recipe of success for MMA, which has scored 30-plus points in all three games and are averaging more than 200 yards on the ground.
Last season MMA scored a 26-0 win at Clean Harbors Stadium against the Lancers on an afternoon where the Bucs honored its senior class.
THE PICK: MMA 37, Worcester State 7 — With their foot firmly planted on the gas pedal, why would the Bucs let up now? A dominating defense complemented by an offense that can go on extended drives and kill the clock is the perfect way to win football games. Nothing changes that mentality on Saturday.