By Eric Belyea
SPRINGFIELD– The Springfield College football team played host to SUNY Maritime in the New England Bowl on Stagg Field yesterday. Both teams came into this postseason matchup with records of seven wins and three losses.
The Privateers came out strong to begin the game. In just their second series, they traveled 84 yards in just seven plays to open up the scoring as Brandonn Dumgole caught his first of two touchdown passes.
The biggest stand out on either side of the ball was the Pride’s defense, more specifically senior Jonny Bianchi. Bianchi did something only seven other members of the Pride have ever done: record three interceptions in one game.
“A lot of it has to do with opportunity, and Coach C talks a lot about opportunity and our defense with the help of Coach Holik, it was a culmination of everything we worked on this year,” Bianchi said when talking about the success of the defense. The senior was named the MVP of the game.
The Pride’s offense used the stellar play from the defense as motivation. Two of the three Bianchi interceptions led to points. Blake Heller hit a 33-yard field goal to finish out the first quarter and Hunter Belzo scored a touchdown as the time on the clock dwindled down to just 13 seconds remaining in the first half. Springfield headed to the locker room up 10-7.
Team 128 started the second half with the ball, but the Maritime defense stood strong, led by junior Liam Bailey. The Sayville, New York native finished with a game-high 17 tackles, 11 of those coming solo. Springfield’s defense came out in the second half with the same intensity, as senior Nick Giorgio led the way with 12 tackles, 4.5 of which were for a loss. He also added 1.5 sacks, and a blocked punt in the third quarter. At the end of the third quarter, the score remained 10-7 in favor of the Pride.
Although the SUNY Maritime defense kept the pressure on Springfield, Hunter Belzo found the endzone for his second score of the game with 6:31 remaining in the game.
“It all falls together, if you do the little things, the big things come together” senior lineman Brennan Fleming said.
SUNY Maritime did put the pressure on late, as senior quarterback Thomas Wright connected with Drumgole again for a touchdown with just 4:25 left to play. After the extra point conversion, the Privateers attempted an onside kick, but came out unsuccessful. The Pride would chew the rest of the clock and when the final buzzer sounded, the final score was 17-14 in favor of the Pride.
This was the last time 26 senior student athletes got to play on Stagg Field. Coach Cerasuolo was happy to get those guys out on the field one more time.
“They have meant the world to our program and they’ve put the program in the right direction and the role models that they are for the younger kids is everything we are looking for in this program,” he said
The Pride finish the 2018 season with a record of 8-3. They have won 18 games over the last two seasons, the most ever for the program in a two year span.
Featured photo courtesy of Sam Leventhal