WESTFIELD, Mass. – Junior Luke Johnson (South Attleboro) rushed for 132 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown to lead Westfield State University to a 15-0 New England Football Conference victory over Bridgewater State University on Saturday, Oct. 2.
Westfield (2-3, 1-1) snapped a three-game losing skid in pitching its first shutout since the seventh game of the 2008 season in front of the large Family Weekend crowd. Bridgewater, which has not scored an offensive touchdown in three straight games, is 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the NEFC Bogan Division.
After a fast-paced scoreless first half, the Owls finally lit the scoreboard late in the third quarter. They put together an eight-play, 77-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Johnson. Two key plays in the scoring drive were a Bridgewater roughing the passer penalty and a 25-yard run by Johnson.
Westfield quickly regained possession when a fumbled pitchout was recovered by Ryan O'Connell (Athol, MA) at the Bears 24. Five plays later Westfield quarterback Dylan Smith (Worcester, MA) scampered into the end zone on a bootleg from four yards out.
On the PAT attempt, holder Evan Berneche (Chicopee, MA) picked up the errant snap and bulled his way in for the two-point conversion for the game's final points.
Bridgewater nearly scored midway through the fourth quarter on a fine 41-yard punt return by Nick Pistacchio (Johnston, RI). But Westfield's Anthony Raneri (Ayer, MA) made a sensational shoestring touchdown-saving tackle at the Owl 32.
Bridgewater was limited to 193 yards in total offense and failed to score twice inside the Owl 20. Also, the Bears had three turnovers to one for Westfield. Kyle Brodeur (West Springfield, MA) was Bridgewater's leading rusher with 59 net yards on 20 carries, while McCarthy rushed 20 times for 39 net yards.
Westfield compiled 243 yards in total offense, including 145 rushing. Smith, in his first varsity start, was an efficient 7 for 11 for 98 yards and no interceptions.
Kevin Parnell (Berlin, CT) and C.J. Franklin (Natick, MA) were Westfield' s leading receivers. Both had two catches for 53 and 36 yards, respectively.
The Owls also received another stellar effort Chris Stengel (Baldwin, MD) who punted five times for an average of 44.6 yards and a long of 60 yards.
Westfield ran just 51 offensive plays in the two hour and 10-minute game and Bridgewater had 65 plays.
Sophomore linebacker Justin Ehrhardt (Stoneham, MA) again led the Owls with a game-high 11 tackles. O'Connell posted 10 tackles (seven solos) from his strong safety position. Down lineman Keith Bateman (Watervliet, NY) contributed five tackles (4 solos, two for losses), a sack and a batted down pass at the line of scrimmage.