By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- The last time the Bridgewater State University football team visited Bowditch Field two years ago, a championship drought ended.
The Bears clinched the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference title, their first crown since 2000, with an overtime win at Framingham State University on Nov. 5, 2016.
Bridgewater State's return to the home field of the Rams on Saturday afternoon turned out to be a rather unpleasant experience.
Struggling on offense for the second straight week, the Bears dropped their MASCAC opener to Framingham State, 34-13, after being within a touchdown at halftime.
Bridgewater State (1-2) managed just 172 yards of total offense, getting only 69 of those yards in the second half when it was outscored, 21-7, by the Rams (2-1, 1-0).
"It was," said BSU coach Joe Verria, "a tale of two halves. The first half was a tight game, the second half we made a lot of mistakes. It's a simple as that.
"We played tough in the first half, then we made mistakes. We just can't afford to do that. We're not experienced enough or good enough to be able to do that."
After scoring only a field goal in a 17-3 loss to Endicott College a week earlier, the Bears were unable to get going on a consistent basis against Framingham State.
The only other score by Bridgewater State came with 4:35 left in the third quarter on a 3-yard run by Nick Santavicca, but that was set up by a 32-yard interception return to the 3 by Steven Silvia (who also had a sack).
That touchdown got BSU within 20-13, but the Bears didn't threaten again, getting into Framingham State territory only one more time, while the Rams added a pair of Rufus Rushins' short TD runs in the final 16 minutes to pull away.
In an attempt to get things going, Bridgewater State replaced D'Emilia (12 for 26, 98 yards) with freshman Brad Thiltgen of Georgia (3 for 11, 19 yards) late in the third quarter.
"He's a good athlete," said Verria of Thiltgen. "He's been doing well all week. We gave him a chance and we'll see what happens moving forward."
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Bears took the first lead on the catch by Lavanchy (nine receptions, 61 yards), but missed the extra point. Framingham State evened it at 6-6 just 4:26 later on a 3-yard run by quarterback Adam Wojenski after the Rams' converted on fourth and 17 from the BSU 26.
Framingham State moved in front, 13-6, with 5:49 to go in the half on a 67-yard TD catch by Shaquille Joseph from Wojenski (20 for 38, 309 yards).
A 50-yard Wojenski-to-Joseph connection in the third quarter set up a 17-yard TD pass to Mikael Brown for a 20-6 lead with 6:46 left in the third quarter, and the Bears followed with their last score of the game.
Framingham State finished with 494 yards of total offense, doing a lot of damage through the air.
"They were reading stuff," said Verria. "They did a good job of putting our linebackers in a bind. They hurt us there.
"They're a good football team. They made plays. They created our mistakes. We've just got to make plays. That's all you can do."
Bridgewater State's running game produced just 55 yards on 36 carries. The Bears' defense was led by Michael Rosa with 10 tackles.
The Bears return home for the first time since opening day when they host Fitchburg State on Friday night.
"It's big for us, that game," said Verria. "We've got to go look to Friday night now. That's big."