Springfield, Mass. - October 6, 2018 - The Springfield College football team battled their way to a 26-12 victory over Coast Guard in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) showdown on Saturday afternoon on Stagg Field.
Springfield improved to 5-1, 3-0 in conference play with a win on a day that was focused on Team IMPACT Awareness. The Bears lost for the first time in conference play this season to drop to 4-2, 2-1.
The Pride's offense totaled 313 yards on the ground as Hunter Belzo (Middletown, Conn.) rushed four 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while throwing for 39 yards and a score. Ryan Deguire (Schenectady, N.Y.) accounted for the Pride's other offensive touchdown with a 26 yard reception. Defensively, the Pride limited Coast Guard to 0-for-10 on third-down conversions as the unit forced three turnovers and totaled seven tackles for loss. Josh Corporan (Lincoln Park, N.J.) posted a team-best eight stops, while Nick Giorgio (Cumberland, R.I.) totaled seven tackles, two sacks, and forced a fumble. Marlowe Scott (Dorchester, Mass.) also had a standout game, making three tackles, forcing a fumble, as well as recovering a fumble.
For the Bears, Ryan Jones (Punxsutawney, Pa.) went 8-for-18 for 111 yards and Chris Gardner (Fairfax, Va.) rushed four 93 yards and a score. Justin Moffatt (Odessa, Fla.) pulled in seven catches for 76 yards, and Jake Behne (Clifton, Va.) led all players with 11 tackles.
After Springfield's defense came up with a three-and-out to start the game, the Pride's special teams came up with a huge play to get things going when Andrew Papirio (Walpole, Mass.) returned the punt 73 yards for a score. The teams would trade possessions before Coast Guard marched 52 yards in five plays, only to have Cole Austin's (Flower Mound, Texas) 34-yard bid sail wide at the 6:17 mark. Coast Guard would respond forcing a three-and-out, and after starting with the ball on the 50, would cash in on a 43-yard Austin field goal with 2:25 left in the first to make it a 7-3 game.
Springfield's special teams came up big again when Ryan McCarthy (Palmer, Mass.) took the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to give the Pride the ball on the Coast Guard 26. On the next play, Belzo delivered a strike to Deguire for the Pride's first passing touchdown of the season. The extra-point was blocked by Patrick Crowley (San Marino, Calif.)) and returned for a score by Coast Guard's Michael Goldsworthy (Jamison, Pa.), making it a 13-5 contest.
The hosts would add to their lead with 9:27 left in the second quarter as Belzo used a tremendous second effort to plunge in from two yards out to make it 20-5 ballgame. The six-play, 69 yard drive lasted just 2:53 and was highlighted by a 50-yard scamper by Belzo.
Trailing by 15 at the half, Coast Guard would snuff out a Springfield 4th and 4 opportunity from the Bears 21 and answer right back with a Gardner two-yard score with 9:43 on the clock. The scoring play was set up by a 54-yard catch and run by Liam Middleton (Dover, N.H.), who got behind the Pride defense for the long gain. The momentum was swinging in the visitors favor, and they found themselves inside the red zone just over three minutes later. However, AJ Smith (Rahway, N.J.) come up with a critical interception for Springfield when he snagged a tipped ball out of the air to keep the Bears at bay.
Coast Guard put together another strong drive to start the fourth, going nine plays in just under four minutes, but Giorgio teammed up with Chaz Ruffin (Enfield, Conn.) for a monster stop on fourth and two on the Springfield 27. The Pride was unable to convert the turnover on downs into points as a 42-yard field goal was wide left. However, three players later, Giorgio got free on the end and forced a fumble on Adams as he was looking deep. Scott snagged a ball out of midair to give the Pride possession inside the 10 yard line, and two plays later, Belzo muscled his way up the middle for the game's final score.
Springfield will play again on Stagg Field next Saturday when it hosts Merchant Marine for a 2 pm meeting as part of Homecoming weekend on campus.