By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College football team is not one to score in a variety of ways. This was shown on Friday night against Western New England when all six of its touchdowns came on rushes, and 86 percent of its total offense came from the ground. However, the team got its contributions from several different players. Six different members of the Pride found the end zone, and six also ran the ball for 45 or more yards en route to Springfield’s 42-14 victory at Stagg Field.
“We got a lot of good players,” said Pride head coach Mike Cerasuolo. “Our fullbacks are really good, our halfbacks are really good. Our quarterback David [Wells] does a great job running the offense. Obviously, we’ve got a really good offensive line.”
Roughly 6,000 spectators came to Stagg Field to experience the defending NEWMAC champions’ first game of the year. Energy radiated from the crowd, and the members of the Brotherhood gave plenty of reason for that energy to be present.
The Pride won the coin toss and deferred, opening the game on defense. Springfield forced a three-and-out after stopping the Golden Bears on a third-and-one situation at their own 48-yard line. Springfield received possession at its 20-yard line, then drove 78 yards to set up a third-and-goal opportunity. However, the Pride failed to convert on third and fourth down, which turned the ball over on downs.
Springfield forced another three-and-out on Western New England’s second drive, and received possession on the Golden Bears’ 45-yard line. The Pride made sure to cash in on their opportunity.
From the 31-yard line, the ball was given to Dante Vasquez. He ran to the right — following the offensive line. He continued down the sideline as he slipped past attempting tacklers. With a couple yards remaining on his journey to the goal line, he hurdled a diving defender across the line to put up Springfield’s first six points of the season.
Vasquez dominated the entire first half, as he provided 74 rushing yards and 29 receiving yards before halftime. It was a coming-out party for the sophomore, who only had one rush in 2021.
“This whole summer, I worked my tail off in the weight room, studying the offense, studying the playbook,” Vasquez said. “I’m glad to be in this position, and I’m ready for a great season.”
After another defensive stop for Springfield, the Pride went on an 11-play, 68-yard drive to score a touchdown that ended on an Arsen Shtefan 2-yard rush across the goal line. Half of the yards gained on the drive came from Vasquez, with that being highlighted by a 17-yard rush on third down to put them inside the 10-yard line.
Springfield forced another short drive from the Golden Bears, then went on an efficient drive on offense. Starting at the 24-yard line, David Wells completed a 29-yard pass to Vasquez to put the Pride in Western New England territory. They moved their way to the 27 yard-line, then Jacob Silvester ran for a touchdown to make it 21-0.
Late in the first half, Springfield had its only turnover of the game, which gave the Golden Bears a short field with less than a minute left. They capitalized on the opportunity with a 16-yard passing touchdown.
The Pride re-established their dominance in the second half. They opened up with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended on a David Wells four-yard touchdown run. Western New England looked to answer back, and attempted a fourth-down conversion twice in its next drive. On its second attempt, Cam Hart stood up Western New England’s quarterback on fourth-and-two on a designed quarterback run play.
The Pride saw two more touchdowns — one from fullback Nicholas Raneri and one from Joseph Cazzinaro. Western New England put up a late touchdown in the game’s last four minutes to make it 42-14.
On the defensive side, Springfield was led in the tackle column by DJ Brown with 10. He was followed by Cam Hart and Tyler Pohlman with seven each.
“I’m really happy for the kids,” Cerasuolo said. “They played great. They prepared great.”
Springfield’s next game is Sept. 10 at 12 p.m. against Rowan.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics