BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Eleven members of the Bridgewater State University football team have been selected to the 2016 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Football All-Conference Team by the league's nine head coaches.
Senior defensive end Matt Halaby (Methuen, Mass.), senior inside linebacker Stephen Jacobs (Tyngsboro, Mass.), senior outside linebacker A.J. Pascuzzo (Wallingford, Conn.) and senior defensive tackle Elvis Romero (Wayne, N.J.) garnered first team honors on the defensive side of the ball
On offense, junior fullback Malik Garrett (Dorchester, Mass.), senior quarterback Danny Higgins (Manahawkin, N.J.), junior running back Alex McLaughlin (Littleton, Mass.) and senior left tackle Colton Schilling (Guilford, Conn.) were also named to the All-MASCAC First Team.
Senior center Matt Adams (Brockton, Mass.), senior tight end James Keating (Norton, Mass.) and senior wide receiver Dukens Léon (Paris, France) were each named to the All-MASCAC Second Team to round out the Bears' all-conference honorees.
Romero is making his third straight appearance on the All-MASCAC First Team while Garrett and Schilling were both named to the All-MASCAC Second Team a year ago.
The BSU football team wrapped up regular season play with an overall record of 8-2 as the Bears captured the MASCAC title with a perfect 8-0 conference mark. The conference title marks the football program's first since winning back-to-back New England Football Conference (NEFC) championships in 1999 and 2000.
The Bears will be making their fourth appearance (1999, 2000, 2012, 2016) in the NCAA Division III Tournament as the Bears will travel to Alfred University to take on the Saxons in an opening round game on Saturday at noon.
Halaby, Jacobs, Pascuzzo and Romero anchor an outstanding defensive unit which allowed just 18.6 points a game during the regular season. The Bears' defense ranks 17th in all of Division III in third down conversion percentage (.279), 25th in total defense (286.8 ypg), 32nd in red zone defense (.645) and 37th in rushing defense (104.6 ypg).
Halaby has 43 tackes (32 solo) on the season with 12.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Jacobs checks in with a team-leading 69 tackles (41 solo) including 11 for loss and 3 1/2 sacks to go along with two blocked kicks and a forced and recovered fumble. Pascuzzo fills the stat sheet with 63 tackles (41 solo), 9 1/2 tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles three pass breakups and a 70-yard interception return for a touchdowns, while Romero has 46 tackles (31 solo) to his credit with 16 tackles for loss and five sacks as well as a pair of forced fumbles.
Jacobs currently ranks 21st nationally in blocked kicks, while Romero is 23rd in tackles for loss and Pascuzzo is 29th in forced fumbles.
Schilling and Adams have helped pave the way for 3,953 yards of total offense including 2,132 yards through the air and 1,821 on the ground. The Bears' offensive line has allowed just nine sacks all season long. The BSU offense also ranks 28th in Division III in third down conversion percentage (.460) and 34th in first downs (235).
Garrett is one of the top all-purpose backs in the MASCAC with 441 rushing yards, 317 receiving yards and 263 return yards. He leads the team with 14 touchdowns and 86 points, and has even thrown for 47 yards.
The Bears' all-time leading passer, Higgins has thrown for 2,067 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. He has also rushed for 187 yards and a score.
McLaughlin has grinded out a team-leading 1,068 rushing yards and seven touchdowns as he is the first BSU running back to crack the 1,000-yard barrier since Justin Fuller turned the trick in 2009. McLaughlin ranks 26th nationally with 118.7 rushing yards per game.
Léon leads the Bears with 54 catches and 572 receiving yards, He has also hauled in a pair of touchdowns and has rushed for another 64 yards and score. Keating has eight receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown, and is one of the top blocking tight ends in the conference.
Notes: Higgins is the Bears' all-time leader in passing yards (5,898), completions (461) and attempts (844)....McLaughlin is seventh all-time in rushing (2,328 yds) and 12th all-time in scoring (176 pts.)....Léon is eighth all-time among the Bears' receiving leaders with 84 receptions....Garrett is tied for 22nd place in program history with 110 points....In 39 games over his four seasons in a BSU uniform, Romero has recorded 153 tackles (107 solo) including an impressive 43 ½ tackles for loss to go along with 18 ½ sacks and four forced fumbles….Jacobs has 181 tackles (125 solo) with 27 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks over three seasons at Bridgewater State....In four seasons with the Bears, Pascuzzo has amassed 150 tackles (106 solo), 16 tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, 14 pass breakups and four forced fumbles.