FRAMINGHAM, MA - The Framingham State University football team stopped Westfield State on 4th down with 28 seconds remaining to hold off the Owls and pick up a 27-24 victory this afternoon in New England Football Conference (NEFC) Bogan Division action at Maple Street Field.
With the win, the Rams improve to 6-2 on the season and remain undefeated in the division at 5-0. The loss drops the Owls to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the Bogan Division.
Sophomore quarterback Dino Mancinelli (Madison, Conn.) completed 19 of 35 passes for 274 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while senior wide receiver James McCarthy (Newton, Mass.) made seven catches for 185 yards and two scores. Sophomore running back Melikke Van Alstyne (Salem, Mass.) rushed for over 100 yards for the 7th time this season as he collected 114 yards on the ground with a touchdown.
Westfield State won the toss and opted to receive the opening kickoff. The Owls took advantage and scored on the opening possession when they drove 54 yards in eight plays. Senior quarterback Tyler Dow (Franklin, Mass.) completed a 24-yard pass to junior Kevin Parnell (Berlin, Conn.) to set up a 9-yard touchdown run by Michael Mercadante (Wilbraham, Mass.) that gave the Owls a 7-0 lead with 11:16 remaining in the first.
The Rams answered with a touchdown just under two minutes later. Mancinelli completed a 60 yard pass to McCarthy on the Rams first play from scrimmage setting up a first and goal from the six. Three plays later Van Alstyne reached the end zone on a 4-yard run and after the PAT was missed the Rams trailed 7-6.
After a 53 yard return by Parnell on the ensuing kickoff, Westfield answered with a 30-yard field goal from junior Kennan Startzell (Rockland, Mass.) pushing their lead to 10-6 with 7:11 left in the first.
The Rams took their first lead of the game (13-10) with 4:39 remaining in the half on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Mancinelli to Tyrone Figueroa (Revere, Mass.) in the back corner of the end zone on a 4th and nine.
Westfield answered with a touchdown of their own to regain the lead 17-13 just before the half. Mercadante was the Owls work horse on the drive as he carried the ball five times for 26 yards and Dow threw an 18-yard completion setting up Justin Karrat’s (Ashland, Mass.) 9-yard touchdown run.
The Rams scored the only points of the third quarter on a 20-yard completion from Mancinelli to McCarthy. McCarthy muscled the ball away from the defender, broke a tackle and reached the end zone for his first score of the game giving the Rams a 20-17 lead.
The Rams defense came up with their first turnover of the game in the opening minutes of the 4th quarter when Kyle Shonio (Swampscott, Mass.) intercepted Dow and returned the ball to the Rams 20 yard line.
Framingham State moved the ball down the field and capped the seven play 80 yard drive on Mancinelli’s second touchdown pass to McCarthy. The 41-yard strike gave the Rams their largest lead of the game, 27-17, with 11:07 remaining in the contest.
The Rams defense followed with another interception – this one by sophomore Patrick McGrath (Everett, Mass.). The Rams moved the ball and chewed up clock before turning the ball over on downs on a 4th and goal from the four yard line. The Owls were pinned deep in their own end down two scores with 6:50 remaining.
After stopping the Owls on their first two downs, the Rams appeared to have their third interception of the game, but the play was negated on a roughing the passer penalty. The Owls took advantage and drove down the field converting on a pair of 4th downs to keep the drive alive. Dow capped the drive with a 28-yard touchdown strike to Kevin Nicol (Wolcott, Conn.) with 2:08 remaining.
Trailing by three, the Owls had all of their timeouts and opted to kick the ball deep to the Rams. Van Alstyne rushed it on first and second down forcing the Owls to take a pair of time outs with FSU facing a 3rd and three. Mancinelli completed a 13-yard pass to Alex Avery (Milford, Mass.), but Avery was stripped on his way to the ground and the Owls recovered the fumble taking over possession on their own 43-yard line with 1:43 remaining.
The Rams defense forced the Owls into a 4th and four with 1:06 left, but Dow completed a 7-yard pass to Nicol to keep the drive alive. On the ensuing first down, freshman Rob Staub (Dracut, Mass.) sacked Dow for an 11-yard loss forcing the Owls to burn their final timeout with 42 seconds left. After a pair of incompletions, junior James Muirhead (Lakeville, Mass.) sacked Dow on 4th down to seal the victory for the Rams.
Dow finished the game 20 of 36 for 256 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, while Parnell made seven catches for 100 yards and picked up 104 yards on kick returns. Mercadante rushed for 60 yards and touchdown.
The Framingham State defense was led by McGrath and Muirhead who picked up eight tackles apiece. McGrath added an interception, while Muirhead added a pair of sacks.
The Rams return to action next Saturday when they host Coast Guard at 1:30 p.m.
Thanks to Kathy Lynch, Assistant Director of Athletics/Sports Information at Framingham State University for contributing this story. For more FSU RAMS sports info, box scores, calendar of upcoming games and sporting events, visit their website at: www.fsurams.com