By Chris Gionta
Practice makes perfect.
The Springfield College football team exemplified that leading up to its 49-7 victory over Husson after two consecutive losses.
“We had a great week of practice,” said Springfield running back Arsen Shtefan. “And I could just tell that this week of practice was way better… and the result showed today.”
After 540 yards of total offense and 147 yards of total offense given up, Springfield head coach Mike Cerasuolo took the most amount of pride from the week leading up to the victory.
“[I am most proud of] the response,” Cerasuolo said. “Practice habits become game reality and that’s what we got.”
On the Pride’s first drive against Husson on Saturday afternoon, they found themselves in a third-and-13 situation at their own 46 yard-line. Quarterback David Wells pitched the ball to his right to running back Dante Vasquez. The sophomore had a lane to his right. He followed the blockers up the field and past the first down marker, then switched direction up the middle as he eluded tacklers. He was brought down at the 19 yard-line. On the next play, Springfield designed a power run up the middle with the ball going in the hands of Shtefan. He followed the pancake blocks en route to a 19-yard touchdown to put Springfield up 7-0 after a Christian Hutra extra point.
The Pride didn’t look back from that moment. They forced a punt, then drove 68 yards on nine plays for another touchdown. This time, Blane Hart ran it in from 11 yards out.
Springfield kept the pressure on. On a third-and-15 situation with the Eagles at their own 23, Springfield linebacker DJ Brown came around the left tackle on the blitz and forced the ball loose as the quarterback was about to throw it. The ball was jumped on by Joe Klick to set the Pride up at Husson’s 21 yard-line.
It did not take long for the Pride to capitalize, as the football was handed to Shtefan three times, with the last of those carries resulting in a five-yard touchdown.
After both teams traded punts, Springfield’s offense was on the prowl yet again. On the Pride’s 30 yard-line, the ball was handed off to Nicholas Raneri, who ran the ball up the middle and did not get tackled for another 44 yards. On the following play, Shtefan ran it up the middle for a 26-yard touchdown — his third of the day.
“It’s the Roach, it’s the offensive line all the way through,” Shtefan said regarding what helped him run so well. “They’re making holes, I’m running through them. There’s nothing really much else to say.”
After that drive, the Eagles got the ball into Springfield territory for the first time all game. They drove the ball to the 11 yard-line before they ran into a fourth-and-one situation. On the attempted conversion, quarterback Nic Vesser was stuffed at the line of scrimmage and turned the ball over on downs.
To open the second half, Springfield forced a three-and-out. Then, on third-and-five at the Pride’s 27 yard-line, Wells rolled to his right and threw the ball for the first time in the game. Wide receiver Jared Durocher caught it near the right sideline and ran upfield with no tacklers ahead of him. He was eventually brought down at Husson’s 13 yard-line for a 60-yard catch-and-run. On the next play, the ball was pitched to Jacob Silvester on the option, and he ran to the left and into the end zone. Hutra kicked his extra point through the uprights to make it 35-0 Springfield.
After another Husson three-and-out, Springfield produced another quick scoring drive. On third-and-four on the Springfield 49 yard-line, Wells dropped back and threw a quick slant to wide receiver Noah Wagnblas. He had one man to beat, and he juked left and past his defender. Once he beat him, all Wagnblas saw was green, then the maroon coloring of the end zone.
Later in the quarter, the Pride went on another touchdown drive, with that one ending on a Joseph Cannizzaro five-yard run.
With 5:40 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles got on the board with a two-yard rushing touchdown. That, along with the extra point, put the score into its final form, which was a 49-7 Springfield advantage.
The Pride moved to 2-2 on the year, and will have a bye week before starting their conference schedule.
“It’s great momentum,” Shtefan said. “We have a bye week coming up, so we have to heal up, and onto the next.”
Springfield’s first conference game will be at Coast Guard on October 8 at 1 p.m. The next time the Pride appear at Stagg Field will be on October 15 at 12 p.m.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics