Bears hold WSU at bay

WESTFIELD – Jack Lavanchy (Walpole) and Nick Santavicca (Yorktown Heights, NY) each scored a pair of touchdowns as Bridgewater State held off Westfield State, 31-14 in a MASCAC football game at Alumni Field on Saturday.
Lavanchy finished with 144 yards on eight catches including TD’s of 28 and 25 yards. Santivicca opened the scoring for the Bears with a 6-yard TD run in the first quarter to stake Bridgewater to a 7-0 lead, then capped the scoring with a four-yard sweep late in the fourth quarter for the 31-14 final, as he totaled 104 yards on an efficient 18 carries.

Westfield State’s Darryl Denson (99) strips the ball from Bridgewater’s Nick Santavicca. Denson recovered the fumble to set up a Westfield touchdown. (Courtesy of Westfield State Sports/Nick Suglia photo)

Bridgewater improves to 3-2, 2-1 in the MASCAC, while Westfield falls to 2-3 and 1-2 in the league.
Bridgewater led 14-0 at the half before Westfield got on the board with a six-yard TD run from senior running back Travon Holder (Cheyney/Hartford, Conn.), capping a quick 2-play drive that was set up at the Bridgewater 16-yard line when Owls senior DE Darryl Denson (Putnam/Springfield, Mass.) forced a fumble and recovered it in the Bears backfield.
The Bears added a 25-yard field goal from Jacob Crear (North Attleboro) to lead 17-7, then took a 24-7 lead when QB Brad Thiltgen (Forsyth/Cumming, Ga.) found Lavanchy on a wide receiver screen, and Lavanchy broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage and rambled 25 yards down the left sideline for the score.
The Owls struck back quickly, as Evan Garvey (Waconah/Dalton, Mass.) returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the Westfield 42, then three plays later Owls QB Jake Cassidy (Lawrence Academy/ Swampscott, Mass.) hit Mike Miller (Trumbull, Conn.) deep behind the Bridgewater defense for a 39-yard touchdown after Cassidy had scrambled away from pressure, which cut the lead to 24-14 with 10:01 left in the game.
The Bears largely put the game away with a 8-play drive midway through the fourth quarter which took 3:45 off the clock and ended with Stefano D’Emilia’s (Bridgewater, Mass.) pooch punt being downed at the Owls 3-yard line.
Westfield junior QB Andrew Peltier (Holyoke, Mass.) came on to lead the final two Westfield State possessions, driving the owls to the BSU 6 on the final drive of the game before time expired.
The teams’ stats for the day were much more evenly matched than the score would indicate, as the Bears posted 373 yards to the Owls 344, and both teams turned the ball over twice.
Westfield’s James English (Lynn/Danvers, Mass.) thwarted one Bears’ first-half drive with an interception in the end zone. Westfield marched the ball in to Bridgewater territory on eight drives, but came up 1-4 in red-zone opportunities.
Thiltgen completed 11-15 passes for 170 yards and two TD’s for Bridgewater while splitting time with D’Emilia at quarterback. Lavanchy’s 8 catches have him three shy of the Bears’ career record of Matt Green’s career record of 169.
Holder rushed 24 times for 82 yards, and added 67 yards receiving on five catches for Westfield. Cassidy finished 11-22 for 144 yards, while Peltier was 5-11 for 57 yards on his two drives.
Garvey, who led the nation in kickoff return average in 2017, had a strong day for the Owls with six returns for 167 yards.
Westfield State will hit the road for two weeks, next traveling to Mass Maritime for a noon kickoff on Saturday, October 6.
Bridgewater will host Plymouth State on Friday Night, October 5. – Courtesy of Westfield State University Sports

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