BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Bridgewater State University football team opened the 2017 season with a 20-19 setback to Buffalo State on Saturday afternoon at Coyer Field in Buffalo, New York.
The game marked the first ever meeting of the two teams.
A 34-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Hoppy to Ricky Bailey midway through the fourth quarter erased a 19-14 deficit for the host Bengals.
The two teams produced three touchdowns over the first four possessions of the contest.
After taking the ball over on downs, the Bengals marched 69 yard on eight plays capped off by a 35-yard touchdown pass from Hoppy to Stephen Johnson to take a 7-0 lead.
Bridgewater State responded with a nine-play 69-yard drive with junior wide receiver Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) hauling in a nine-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Stefano D'Emilia (Bridgewater, Mass.) to knot the score at 7-7.
On the ensuing possession, a 26-yard return on a short kickoff gave Buffalo State good field position at its own 43-yard line. A Dale Stewart three-yard TD run put the finishing touches on a ten-play, 57-yard drive as the Bengals jumped back in front, 14-7, with 12:05 remaining in the second quarter.
Late in the period following a Buffalo State punt, the Bears took over at their own 21-yard line. Sixteen plays later, senior quarterback Jonathan Marrero (Boston, Mass.) punched it in on fourth and goal from the one-yard line to cut the BSU deficit to 14-13 with just 14 seconds remaining until halftime. The Bears' initial point after try, however, was negated by a penalty and the ensuing attempt was off the mark.
Bridgewater forced a key turnover on the Bengals' opening possession of the third quarter. Senior linebacker Anthony Fogarty (Albany, N.Y.) recovered the fumble to give the Bears outstanding field position at the Buffalo State 26. On fourth and seven, D'Emilia connected with senior wideout Brandon Giles (Old Bridge, N.J.) on a 23-yard scoring strike to give BSU the 19-14 lead. The Bears went for two but were unable to convert.
The score remained that way until the fourth quarter when Hoppy hooked up with Bailey on the game-winning 34-yard touchdown to put the Bengals back on top, 20-19, with 6:58 left to play.
A Darren Thompson interception on a third-and-24 pass attempt gave the hosts great field position near midfield. On the ensuing drive, the Bengals converted twice on third down and were also helped out by a key offside penalty on fourth and three as they were able to run out the clock.
BSU was penalized 13 times in the game for 90 yards. The late offside penalty proved to be key as well as the illegal block penalty on the initial made extra point following the Bears' second touchdown.
Hoppy completed 16 of 26 pass attempts for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while D'Emilia (8-for-20, 84 yds.) and Marrero (4-for-7, 74 yds.) combined to throw for 158 yards and two touchdowns. D'Emilia's two touchdown passes marked the first two of his career.
Lavanchy finished with a game-high four receptions and 56 yards as well as a touchdown, while Giles also hauled in four catches for 41 yards and a score. Johnson was the Bengals' leading receiver as he grabbed three passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
The two teams combined for just 129 rushing yards with Stewart leading the way with 63 yards and a score on 18 carries. Senior running back Alex McLaughlin (Littleton, Mass.) was the Bears' leading rusher with 53 yards on 20 attempts. McLaughlin also added two receptions for 55 yards as he finished with a game-high 108 all purpose yards.
Senior linebacker Charles McCarthy (North Reading, Mass.) paced the BSU defense with 13 tackles including five solo stops. Junior defensive end Rhondell Teesdale (Dorchester, Mass.) added eight tackles (five solo) with one for loss, while junior defensive end Chris Gemayel (Dedham, Mass.) checked in with five tackles (four solo) with a sack and two tackles for loss.
Bart Mazzara paced the hosts with ten tackles (four solo) with one for loss. Paul Krowel contributed seven stops (four solo) with two for loss and a sack.
Next Saturday, the Bears (0-1) entertain Endicott College, while the Bengals (1-0) travel to Empire 8 rival Morrisville State. Both games are slated for a noontime start.