By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The Bridgewater State University football team made a bid for a stunning comeback victory in its Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference opener.
Trailing Framingham State University by 19 points with less than seven minutes remaining, the Bears had a chance to overtake the Rams with time running out Friday night.
They trailed by six points and had the ball at the Framingham State 27 with 1:25 to go.
But BSU’s fifth turnover of the game prevented the comeback from being completed, and the Bears fell to 0-3 with a 19-13 loss to the Rams at Swenson Field.
Sophomore quarterback Stefano D’Emilia of Bridgewater, inserted into the game with less than 11 minutes to go, provided a spark for the Bears. He was 10 for 20 for 120 yards.
D’Emilia threw a pair of touchdown passes to Malik Garrett to get BSU within six points.
The Bears then got the ball back with 2:01 remaining at their own 39 and three completions by D’Emilia brought the ball to the Framingham State 27.
Following a holding penalty, though, a D’Emilia pass was intercepted near the goal line by Jaquan Harris with 1:10 to go, giving the Rams their third straight win this season.
BSU, which has lost its three games by a total of eight points, had ended Framingham State’s three-year run as MASCAC champions last season.
Coach Joe Verria switched quarterbacks in the fourth quarter, turning from Jonathan Marrero to sophomore D’Emilia, a Bridgewater-Raynham graduate.
D’Emilia, who entered the game with 10:56 remaining, threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Garrett on third down with 6:30 left as the Bears went 80 yards in seven plays. The two-point conversion pass attempt failed.
Garrett then caught a 20-yard TD pass with 4:31 to go and the Bears got within six points.
The Bears’ defense forced the Rams to punt, holding them on third and 1, but the BSU offense couldn’t finish the comeback.
Framingham State opened a 10-0 halftime lead following a scoreless first quarter and were in control throughout, thanks to the BSU turnovers and costly penalties.
Rams kicker Ryan Clifford, a freshman from Brockton, contributed a pair of field goals as his team improved to 3-0, 1-0 in the MASCAC.
Three of BSU’s turnovers came in the first half as the offense struggled to get consistency going.
The Rams went on top, 7-0, with 10:40 to go in the half on a 3-yard run by Rufus Rushins.
Framingham State went 69 yards in 12 plays, converting on third down and fourth down to keep the drive alive.
Clifford added the extra point, then kicked a 40-yard field goal with 1:54 remaining in the half for the 10-point bulge.
BSU had moved into Framingham State territory on a run by Marrero, but his fumble on the play was recovered by the Rams at their 46.
The Bears had Framingham State in a fourth-and-3 situation from the BSU 37, but a roughing the passer call changed that and gave the Rams a first down at the 22.
The Bears were able to hold Framingham State to the Clifford field goal from 36 yards out.
Bridgewater State had the ball for just 11:19 in the opening half, gaining 112 yards while Framingham State had 184 yards and picked up 12 first downs.
The Bears threatened to get on the scoreboard in the third quarter when they drove to the Rams’ 16-yard line.
The key plays were an 11-yard run by Alex McLaughlin, a pass interference call against Framingham State and an 8-yard reception by Jack Lavanchy.
But after the drive stalled, the Bears went for a 34-yard field goal that was missed by Russ Bolarinho.
The Rams took advantage, going 80 yards in 10 plays with Quron Wright and Sebastien Robert taking turns picking up yardage on the ground.
Zakery Walker finished the march with a 15-yard TD pass to Napoleon Miller with 3:07 to go in the third quarter. Clifford’s conversion kick was blocked by Rhondell Teesdale as the Bears trailed, 16-0.
Clifford connected on a 36-yard field goal with 11:07 to go for a 19-0 lead.
The Bears will seek their first win next Saturday afternoon at Fitchburg State.