BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Senior quarterback Stefano D'Emilia (Bridgewater, Mass.) accounted for eight touchdowns and threw for a school record 345 yards to lead the Bridgewater State University football team to a 56-20 Homecoming victory over Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) rival UMass Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon at Swenson Field.
The Bears improve to 4-3 on the season and 4-1 in the MASCAC with their fourth straight win, while the Corsairs fall to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in conference play. The Bears lead the all-time series, 20-12, including a 10-7 mark at home. The two teams first met in 1988 and have played every season since.
D'Emilia completed 15 of 27 pass attempts for a school record-tying five touchdowns and rushed for 53 yards and three scores as he amassed 398 yards of total offense. D'Emilia also caught a two-point conversion pass as he had a hand in 50 of the team's 56 points.
D'Emilia also reached a milestone on Saturday as he became just the second quarterback in program history to throw for over 5,000 yards (5,267) joining former teammate Danny Higgins (6,091 yds.)
In the first quarter alone, D'Emilia connected on touchdown passes of 61 and 64 yards to senior wide receiver Williams Watts (Pembroke, Mass.), as well as a 13-yard scoring strike to senior tight end Joseph Leanos (Norwood, Mass.). D'Emilia also rushed for a one-yard touchdown in the period as the Bears led 27-7 after 15 minutes of play. The TD run was set up by a Chris Easter (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) 50-yard punt return down to the UMD two.
The Corsairs lone score of the first quarter was an 11-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Stephen Gacioch (Tiverton, R.I.) to junior receiver Leroy Brown (Milton, Mass.).
A two-yard touchdown pass from Gacioch to senior wideout Jacen Hudson (Hudson, N.H.) capped off a five-play, 50-yard drive with 11:56 remaining in the second quarter as the Corsairs closed the deficit to 27-14.
The Bears would dominate the rest of the period, however, as D'Emilia tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Leanos, ran for a five-yard TD and hooked up with junior receiver T.J. Hairston (Watertown, Mass.) on a 15-yard strike. Bridgewater would take a 49-14 lead into the break.
After a wild first half, there were only 13 points scored in the second half and none in the fourth quarter as each team found notched third-quarter touchdowns.
D'Emilia found the end zone on a one-yard touchdown run to cap off an eight-play, 54-yard drive and give the Bears a 56-14 lead. UMD sophomore defensive end Jay Bast (Cranston, R.I.) returned a D'Emilia interception 12 yards for a score with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter to account for the final tally of 56-20.
Sophomore linebacker Steven Silvia (Dighton, Mass.) paced a solid defensive effort for the Bears as he notched a team-best 12 tackles (ten solo) with two for loss and a forced fumble. The BSU defense forced six turnovers including five interceptions. Freshman linebacker Ben McMahon (Somerset, Mass.) picked off two passes, the first two of his collegiate career, while Easter, freshman safety Jaylon Dawson (Freehold, N.J.) and freshman cornerback Prince Brown (Lynn, Mass.) also finished with an interception. The Bears' secondary broke up seven passes in addition to the five picks with Easter leading the way with two.
Junior linebacker John MacDermott (Bridgewater, Mass.) added eight tackles (seven solo) for Bridgewater State, while sophomore defensive end Dimitri Dorinvil (Brockton, Mass.) checked in with seven tackles (five solo) with 2 ½ for loss and a forced fumble.
Offensively for the Bears, Watts finished with four receptions for a career-high 138 yards and two touchdowns. Leanos grabbed three passes for 63 yards and a pair of scores, while Hairston tallied three receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Gacioch completed 18 of 38 pass attempts for 208 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw four interceptions. Hudson hauled in eight passes for 75 yards and a score.
Junior defensive end Sean Reall (North Providence, R.I.) paced the Corsairs' defense with a game-high 14 tackles (eight solo) with 2 ½ for loss.
Following a bye week, the Bears will entertain MASCAC rival Plymouth State University on Saturday, November 2nd at 4:00 PM. The Corsairs are back in action next Saturday (Oct. 26) when they host conference foe Worcester State University at 3:00 PM.
Notes: D'Emilia broke Higgins' previous single-game record of 326 yards passing set against Fitchburg State in 2014….D'Emilia equaled the school passing touchdown mark of five held by three different quarterbacks. 2019 BSU Hall of Fame inductee Mike McCarthy (2013 vs. Plymouth State) was the most recent Bear to accomplish the feat....D'Emilia tied Higgins for third place on the Bears' all-time passing touchdown list as he increased his career total to 47....The Bears' 56 points marked the team's highest single-game total since a 64-42 Cranberry Bowl win over Mass. Maritime on November 14th of 2015.