By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- There is still one important piece of regular-season business left on the agenda for the Bridgewater State University football team.
The Bears have already clinched their first conference championship since 2000 and have earned a spot in the NCAA Division 3 tournament.
Before venturing into the postseason on Nov. 19, Bridgewater State will try to retain possession of the Cranberry Scoop.
The Bears are hosting the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in the 38th annual Ocean Spray Cranberry Bowl at Swenson Field Saturday at noon.
After claiming the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference title last Saturday by dethroning Framingham State in overtime, Bridgewater State still has plenty on the line in the regular-season finale, which should prevent any letdown or looking ahead.
"After we won at Framingham and we were on the bus, we started the chant of 'scoop, scoop,' '' said Bears coach Joe Verria during the annual pregame luncheon attended by representatives of both schools Thursday afternoon. "We got the kids thinking about it right away, and since Monday we haven't talked about anything but this game.''
Bridgewater State owns a 27-9-1 lead in the Cranberry Bowl with the Buccaneers winning on their last visit to Swenson Field in 2014.
The Bears (7-2, 7-0 in the MASCAC) are also looking to cap off a perfect conference season before finding out their opening-round NCAA tourney opponent during a selection show on Sunday night.
"We want to go into the playoffs on the winning side and go undefeated in the MASCAC,'' said Verria. "The thing about this group is they love to play football. They just love to play the game. They're all tough kids who look forward to Saturdays.''
Bridgewater State has won seven straight games, its longest streak since putting together 10 victories in a row in 1999. The winning ways continued at Framingham State when Olubiyi Ojo blocked an extra point in overtime followed by a Malik Garrett touchdown and a Russell Bolarinho extra point.
Mass. Maritime (4-5, 3-4 MASCAC) will be trying to finish at the .500 mark and spoil BSU's run through the conference.
"They are a very good team,'' said Verria. "The concern is always that they put together a great offense and have a much improved defense.''
Verria played in the first Cranberry Bowl in 1979 and was part of the game as an assistant coach for 28 seasons before becoming the head coach this year.
"This game has come a long, long way,'' said Verria. "There wasn't any fanfare like this at all in the first one. It's been awesome for the kids. The kids know the tradition, the importance of the game.''
Stonehill in finale: Stonehill College (4-6) closes its season Saturday at noon with a game against Bentley University (5-5) in Waltham.
The game is part of the Northeast-10 Conference's Championship Weekend, pitting the sixth-place Skyhawks against the fifth-place Falcons.
Bentley defeated Stonehill, 27-7, on Oct. 22 despite being outgained, 272-176.
Stonehill freshman wide receiver Andrew Jamiel, who has 86 receptions, was picked as the NE-10 rookie of the week for the fourth time after making 11 catches for 111 yards and a TD against Pace.
Jamiel is first nationally in Division 2 and seventh overall in college football with 9.6 catches per game. He needs five catches to break Nate Robitaille's program record of 91 and is seven shy of the national Division 2 freshman record set in 1995 by Jarett Vito of Emporia State University.
- Florida State 38, Boston College 10 (tonight): Another rough week for the Eagles.
- Clemson 38, Pittsburgh 17: The Tigers make it 10 in a row.
- Harvard 24, Penn 21 (tonight): The Crimson claim a share of the Ivy League title.
- Bridgewater State 35, Mass. Maritime 21: The Bears tune up for the NCAAs with a win.
- Bentley 21, Stonehill 17: The Skyhawks finish with a loss on the road.
LAST WEEK: 5-0 (SEASON TOTAL: 35-15)