Framingham State University (FSU)
FRAMINGHAM, MA - The Framingham State University RAMs football team clinched the 2019 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Championship with a 40-20 victory over Bridgewater State University in MASCAC action at Bowditch Field this afternoon.
The Rams have won three straight MASCAC Titles and at least a share of four of the last five MASCAC championships. As the champions, the Rams will receive the MASCAC’s automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Division III Football Championship.
Freshman Devaun Ford (Mashpee, Mass.) rushed for over 100 yards for the second straight game picking up 135 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown. Ford averaged 7.9 yards per carry and also made three catches in the game.
Senior Adam Wojenski (Stratford, Conn.) completed 13-of-21 pass attempts for 203 yards with four touchdowns. Wojenski rushed for 42 yards on 12 carries.
Freshman Elijah Nichols (Burlington, NJ) made five catches for 95 yards with a score, while sophomores Austin Nunn (Bellingham, Mass.) and Emmanuel Exilhomme (Roslindale, Mass.) and senior Jacob Maher (Marshfield, Mass.) all caught touchdown passes in the game.
Nick Santavicca paced the Bears rushing attack rushing for 82 yards on 20 carries with a score.
Stefano D’Emilia completed 20-of-38 passes for 273 yards with a pair of touchdowns. D’Emilia tossed one interception and was sacked three times.
William Watts caught six passes for 74 yards with two scores, while T.J. Hairston caught five balls for 97 yards.
The Rams defense was key in the game forcing two turnovers that led to two touchdowns in the second quarter.
Junior Anthony Behonick (Rutland, Mass.) recorded six tackles in the game including four solo and two for a loss. Behonick recovered a fumble in the second quarter and returned it 14 yards setting up a touchdown and then later in the quarter intercepted D’Emilia and returned it for a score.
Senior Carls Alphonse (Somerville, Mass.) recorded a game-high 11 tackles with a pass breakup, while junior Joshua Onujiogu (Wareham, Mass.) added three tackles including a pair of sacks.
How the Game Was Played
The Bears took the opening kickoff and needed just six plays to go 66 yards for the game’s first score. D’Emilia connected with Watts for a 22- yard touchdown just over three minutes into the game.
The Rams answered with a score on their first possession of the game. A 36-yard pass to Nichols put the ball on the Bears six-yard line. Ford gained four yards on first down and found the end zone from two yards out on second. After both teams failed to convert their PATs, the game was tied 6-6 with 9:07 left in the first.
After the Rams defense forced a three and out, the Rams went 52 yards on 10 plays capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Wojenski and Maher to go ahead 13-6
The Rams defense was key to a pair of second quarter scores that pushed the lead to 27-6. Onujiogu sacked D’Emilia and forced a fumble that was recovered and return to the 40-yard line by Behonick with 14:49 on the clock in the second. Nunn caught a pair of passes moving the ball down to the Bears 16-yard line setting up a 16-yard touchdown from Wojenski to Nichols.
On the Bears next possession Behonick intercepted D’Emilia, who was under pressure from sophomore Cully Curran (Arlington, Mass.) and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown and a 27-6 lead with 10:20 on the clock before the half.
Bridgewater State answered with a six-play, 55-yard drive capped by an eight-yard touchdown run from Santavicca cutting the deficit to 27-13.
The Rams added a final score with just under three minutes remaining in the half. Ford broke a tackle and scampered 24 yards to the Bears 32-yard line and on the next play Wojenski and Exilhomme connected for the 32-yard touchdown.
The Bears were driving on their final possession of the half and had the ball in Rams territory, but the Rams defense came with a stop on third down and forced the Bears to punt.
The Bears took advantage of a Ram fumble on the first possession of the second half and capitalized on a penalty by the Rams on a 4th and two that kept the scoring drive alive. After the penalty, D’Emilia completed a 39 yard pass to Hairston and then hit Watts for a one-yard score cutting the lead to 33-20 with 12:25 left in the third.
After a Ram punt, the Bears were once again driving and faced a 4th and goal from the two. After a timeout, the Rams defense came up with the stop on fourth down setting up a 13 play, 98 yard scoring drive that took 6:41 off the clock. Ford ripped off a 44-yard run on the drive and Wojenski connected with Nunn, who broke a pair of tackles, for a 24-yard score pushing the lead to 40-20 with just under 12 remaining in the game.
The Rams defense forced the Bears to turn the ball over on downs on their next two possessions to seal the victory.
Thanks to Kathy Lynch, Assistant Director, Athletics, Sports Information at Framingham State University for contributing this story.