Defensive second half proves to be enough for WestConn to hold on for 28-21 win over Massachusetts Maritime

Defensive second half proves to be enough for WestConn to hold on for 28-21 win over Massachusetts Maritime

DANBURY, CT - Western Connecticut State University senior quarterback Quinn Fleeting (Windsor, CT) threw three first-half touchdowns and the Colonials' defense buckled down in the second half to defeat visiting Massachusetts Maritime Academy, 28-21 at the Westside Athletic Complex on Saturday night.

Fleeting completed 11 of 21 passes for 208 yards and touchdowns of 16, 37 and 66 yards as WestConn improved to 5-1 overall and sit in a two-tie with Framingham State University at 3-1 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.  The Rams fell to Plymouth State University, 16-13 on Saturday, pushing the Panthers to the top of the league standings at 4-1.

Midway through the first quarter, Fleeting hooked up with Jawad Chisholm (Bridgeport, CT) from 16 yards out and Jordan D'Onofrio (Orange, CT) tacked on the extra point for a 7-0 WestConn advantage.

On the second play on the ensuing drive for the Buccaneers, Richard Washington (New Haven, CT) intercepted MMA quarterback Chris Haggerty (Cohasset, MA) to give the Colonials the ball on the visitor's 37 yard line.

On the next play and exactly one minute after its last score, Fleeting connected with Austin Calamita (North Branford, CT) for the 37-yard TD.  D'Onofrio's point after actually sailed right, but Mass. Maritime was flagged for encroachment penalty to give the sophomore another attempt.  This time, straight down the middle and a 14-0 lead for the hosts.

With 5:12 remaining in the first stanza, senior running back Richie Phillips (Onset, MA) bolted into pay dirt from 39 yards out.  George Lampros (Bridgewater, MA) added the extra point and the Buccaneers cut their deficit in half.

Haggerty scored from two yards out, on a quarterback keeper to the right side, and the game was deadlocked at 14-14 following Lampros PAT in the early going of the second quarter.

Senior running back Khalil Patterson (Hartford, CT) plowed in from a yard out with 2:20 remaining before the recess for a 21-14 lead.

Fleeting found Chisholm for what proved to the game-winning touchdown inside a minute of the first half.  The 66-yard heave and D'Onofrios' extra point sent WestConn into the locker room with its second 14-point lead of the night, 28-14.

The second half was a complete opposite affair as the Colonials amassed just 90 total offensive yards over the final 30 minutes of game action.  Fleeting, who was out for one series in the second quarter, completed 4-of-12 attempts for 42 yards in the second half.

Mass. Maritime on the other hand was piling up yards, 178 of them with the bulk coming from Phillips.  He finished with 32 carries for 212 yards on the night, 75 of them after the break.

Only 20 yards separated the two clubs in total offensive yards in the game, 357-337 in favor of the Colonials.

Phillips back up, Matt Long (Weymouth, MA) provided the only points in the second half.  He scampered in from 51 yards for the Buccaneers' longest play from scrimmage.  Lampros boot ended the night's scoring at 28-21.

The Colonials defense came up big in the final two MMA possessions.  A 17-play, 84-yard drive at the 7:22 mark of the fourth quarter, ended on the WestConn two yard line when Haggerty's pass to Paul Sances (Middleboro, MA) was knocked away by Washington in the end zone.

The Buccaneers had one last drive, which began with 3:07 remaining in regulation.  On fourth-down and 11 yards, Maleek Brooks (Naugatuck, CT) broke up Haggerty's pass to Ryan Finney (Hingham, MA) at midfield and WestConn took three knees for the final.

Haggerty completed 5-of-15 passes for 23 yards on the night, many of those attempts coming during the final two possessions for MMA.

Patterson led the Colonials's ground attack with 80 yards on 22 carries and the one score.

Chisholm and Calamita combined for six catches for 157 yards and all three TDs.

Doug Katz (Monroe, CT) led all defenders with nine tackles for WestConn, which has evened the all-time series with the Buccaneers at 6-6.

"Every year our game against Mass. Martime is very competitive," stated WestConn head coach Joe Loth.  "We had a great goal-line stand in the fourth quarter to preserved the victory.  It was a hard-fought win tonight."

Kyle Johnson (Raynham, MA), Bobby Gross (Tampa, FL), Tim Churchill (Scituate, MA) and Kamil Bak (Southampton, MA) were each credited with six tackles for Mass. Maritime.

Next Saturday, October 21, the Buccaneers, now 1-5 overall and winless in the league, play host to Plymouth State  at 1 pm while WestConn travels to Bridgewater State University for a meeting with the Bears at 4 pm.

With four conference games remaining for the Colonials, including a trip to Framingham State on November 4 that will surely figure in the final league standings, every positive result will be crutial.  It's early to begin to think about tie-breakers, but the Colonials did defeat the Panthers, 37-29 back on September 16.