DANBURY, CT — Senior running back Octavias McKoy (Stratford, CT) ran for a school-record 372 yards on and five touchdowns on 42 carries, but the Western Connecticut State University football team dropped a 54-53 decision to visiting Massachusetts Maritime Saturday afternoon in front of 1,004 fans at the Westside Athletic Complex.
McKoy set a total of four records on the day including five rushing and overall touchdowns and 30 points scored on the afternoon.
With Mass. Maritime facing fourth and three in its own territory, Mike Stanton (Quincy, MA) found junior Jonathan Wright (Newburyport, MA) down the right sideline for a 51-yard gain to the Western six yard line. After Western was penalized for having 12 men on the field, John Trudel (Niantic, CT) scored what proved to the game-winner on a three-yard run to put Mass. Maritime back in the lead, 54-53. Another failed two-point conversion kept the margin at one.
After the ensuing 17-yard kickoff return, the Colonials, now 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the league, began its final drive at its own 45 with 4:00 remaining on the clock. They used three minutes to move the ball to the MMA 11 yard line, but junior Michael Killoran (West Hartford, CT) pushed his go-ahead 28-yard field-goal attempt just wide of the left upright and the visitors escaped with a 54-53 victory.
The Buccaneers, now 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC), also had an outstanding runner as senior Stefan Gustafson (Plymouth, MA) rushed 35 times for 235 yards and four touchdowns. Gustafson's scores came from three, 87, seven and nine yards, respectively as Mass. Maritime amassed 676 total yards offensively on 97 plays.
Western gained 606 yards on 76 plays with 436 of those yards coming via the ground attack.
Massachusetts Maritime got the barrage of scoring started with a three-yard run by Gustafson that capped an 11-play, 82-yard drive by the Buccaneers, giving them a 7-0 lead at the 9:46 mark of the first quarter.
Western responded on its next drive when McKoy scored on a 15-yard run, that followed runs of 11 and 10 yards, making the score, 7-7, with 6:04 remaining in the period.
Three minutes later, Mass. Maritime took possession of the ball at its own 13 yard line. On first down, Gustafson ran through the left side of the Western defense, past two Colonial defensive backs, and dashed 87 yards for a touchdown that put the visitors back on top, 14-7.
On Western's next possession, junior Kevin Stanton (Abington, MA) intercepted a pass by Western's Will Arndt (Sandy Hook, CT) and returned the ball 20 yards to the WCSU 43 yard line. Five plays later, senior signal-caller Mike Stanton (Quincy, MA) completed a 33 yard pass to junior E.J. Bennett (East Wareham, MA) for a 21-7 Buccaneer lead.
Western opened the second-quarter scoring with another touchdown run by McKoy. On third and five, McKoy sprinted around the right side of the Buccaneer defense to score from 13 yards out. When the Western extra point failed, The margin stood at 21-13.
After an eight-play drive that covered 40 yards, Mass. Maritime failed to convert a fourth and five from the Western 29-yard line. The Colonials then marched 71 yards in 10 plays, scoring on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Arndt to sophomore Connor Falaguerra (Milford, CT), drawing Western to within one point, 21-20.
Both teams failed to make a first-down on their next possessions, before Mass. Maritime put together a seven-play, 77-yard scoring drive, with Gustafson scoring on a seven-yard run to extend the visitors' lead to 28-20 with under two minutes to play in the half.
Western began the final drive of the half from its own 31 yard-line with 1:43 remaining before intermission. On second and one from the Western 40, McKoy burst around the right end of the Mass. Maritime defense and ran down the sideline before being forced out of bounds at the two yard line. After a one-yard gain put the ball at the one, Western lined up in its Wildcat offense, the ball was snapped directly to McKoy, and the junior leapt over middle of the line for the fourth Western touchdown of the half.
At intermission, the visitors from Mass. Maritime led 28-27.
Mass. Maritime took the opening kickoff of the second half and went three-and-out.
Falaguerra returned the punt 23 yards into Buccaneer territory, giving the Colonials good field position for their opening drive of the stanza.
A 19-yard McKoy run and a 25 yard completion from Arndt to junior David Plaza (Waterbury, CT) gave Western first and goal at the Mass. Maritime one yard-line. Another direct-snap to McKoy from the Wildcat formation resulted in a touchdown for Western and the Colonials first lead of the day, 34-28.
The Western defense again held the Buccaneers to three plays, including a seven yard sack of Stanton on third and five. After a 40-yard punt, Western took over at its own 40 yard-line.
A 15-yard penalty on the first play of the drive moved the ball into Mass. Maritime territory, and a pair of 14-yard passes by Arndt and an eight-yard run by McKoy gave Western first and goal from the nine yard-line. A five-yard penalty pushed the ball back to the 14 yard-line, before Arndt connected with Falaguerra for the second time on the day to push the Western advantage to 41-28.
Mass. Maritime responded with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that concluded with Gustafson scoring on a nine-yard run to narrow the gap to 41-35. At the end of the third quarter, the score remained Western 41, Mass. Maritime 35.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, junior quarterback John Trudel (Niantic, CT) connected with Bennett on a four-yard completion to put Mass. Maritime back on top, 42-41. The play capped a 17-play, 74-yard drive that took over six minutes.
Trudel and Stanton split time in the pocket for MMA. Stanton completed 22 of 33 passes for 349 yards and two touchdown while Trudel completed five of eight passes for 29 yards and one score while rushing 10 times for 38 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Western looked poised to regain the lead after 19 and 40-yard runs by McKoy put the ball at the Mass. Maritime three yard line. With his 40-yard gain, McKoy eclipsed the previous single-game rushing mark of 260 yards set by Scott Haney in 1984. Haney held the rushing record for 29 years, after his historic performance in a 48-31 win over Framingham State in 1984.
Western fumbled on the next play when the snap was mishandled by Arndt, and the Buccaneers took over at their own four yard line.
After converting two first downs, Mass. Maritime was forced to punt and Western took possession of the ball at midfield. Five plays later, Arndt threw a perfect ball over the top of a Buccaneer defender to sophomore Brandon Johnson (Montville, CT) in the right corner of the end-zone to put Western back in the lead. When the two-point conversion failed, Western led 47-42.
Mass. Maritime started its next drive from its own 18 and went 82 yards on six plays, with the big strike coming on a 67 yard pass from Stanton to senior Keith Caruso (Hingham, MA) to put the visitors back on top, 48-47. When the Buccaneer two-point conversion failed, the margin remained one point.
Western began with the ball on its own 35 yard-line and quickly moved into Mass. Maritime territory. Back-to-back 19-yard runs by Arndt and McKoy gave Western first and goal at the Buccaneer one yard-line. McKoy scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the day on the following play, and when the two-point conversion failed, the Western lead was 53-48.
Arndt completed 14 of 22 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns for Western.
Despite the plethora of points scored, Western's Michael Lacaria (Watertown, CT) had 14 total tackles to lead all players. Tommy Lacey (Wood-Ridge, NJ) followed with 10 tackles.
The Buccaneers defense was balanced with Michael Sylvia (Lincoln, MA) and Kyle Espindola (Dartmouth, MA) each being credited with eight tackles.
Western plays host to Fitchburg State University next Saturday on Homecoming. Kick off with the Falcons is slated for 5 pm.