By Luke Whitehouse
Coaches often preach that if you execute every phase of the game – offense, defense, and special teams – you should win every time.
And on Saturday, that’s precisely what Springfield College did.
The Pride put up six touchdowns and forced four turnovers en route to a dominant 45-20 win over Husson in their home opener.
The dominance ensued from the opening kickoff.
Springfield won the toss and deferred to the second half – but Husson didn’t keep the ball long.
Springfields’ Desmond Perezca popped the ball out of Husson’s kick returner Ja’Quan Mile’s hands – forcing a fumble ultimately recovered by the Pride. They took advantage of the early turnover as four plays later, quarterback Jacob Silvester followed his blocks for a 1-yard score.
“It was a great way to start the game, obviously,” Springfield head coach Mike Cerasuolo said. “It’s great when you have kids on our defense that create those takeaways, and then we can execute on the other end and put the ball in the endzone.”
After forcing a three and out, the Eagles were forced to punt – but it didn’t go very far. Springfield defensive back Colby Richardson got his hand on the ball and deflected it into the air to once again set up the Pride offense inside the Husson 25 yard line.
And once again, the offense capitalized on it as three plays later, Blane Hart took the pitch from Silvester 18 yards and into the endzone. After Christian Hutra’s extra point, the Pride led 14-0 less than five minutes into the contest.
But Husson had a quick response.
Running back Eli Garnett took it 72 yards to the house on the second play of the drive to put the Eagles on the board. The junior tailback finished the day with 164 yards rushing and two touchdowns – proving to be the one bright spot for Husson.
“He’s a really good player,” Cerasuolo said. “He showed it on film, and he’s been doing it a while now.”
Springfield once again fought back.
Up 14-6 after a missed Husson extra point, the Pride embarked on a gritty 15-play, 70-yard drive that burned over eight minutes of clock and ended with an Arsen Shtefan four-yard touchdown to put Springfield up 21-6.
Yet again, Husson didn’t go away quietly as they went on a lengthy drive of their own that ended in another Garnett touchdown. After a made extra point, the Pride’s lead had dwindled to just eight.
With both teams trading three and outs, a Springfield field goal from Hutra with three minutes left in the half regave the Pride their two-possession lead.
Two plays later, a Joe Maurer interception had the offense trotting back out onto Stagg.
And once again, the Pride took advantage. After reaching the ten-yard line, Silvester connected with Bradley Barcello for a last-minute touchdown putting the Pride up 31-13.
This also allowed Springfield to ‘double-dip’ and create a 14-point swing as they received the ball in the second half – a goal that came to fruition quite quickly.
After marching down the field, Silvester punched it in for his third touchdown of the day – blowing the game wide open.
“[Silvester] continues to improve each week with his reads and distributing the ball the way it needs to be,” Ceresuolo said. “He has the ability to distribute it as well and can make good plays with his feet.”
The Junior signal-caller finished the afternoon with 54 total yards and three touchdowns.
The 38-13 score held until midway through the fourth quarter when Husson running back Jed Lober found the endzone, cutting Springfield’s lead to eighteen.
But Shtefan made sure to put the game officially out of reach on the next drive as he bulldozed into the endzone for his second touchdown of the day.
The score also put Springfield over 400 yards on the ground – dominance personified.
“It all starts with The Roach [offensive line],” Shtefan said. “They made those blocks all day, opened up holes, and we just took advantage.”
Springfield stonewalled the Husson offense on the next drive to come away with the 45-20 win in their home opener.
“Home opener wins mean a lot to us,” Shtefan said. “It lifts the whole team, the whole program, and now we have all the momentum.”
The Pride have a short week coming up as they travel to Schenectady, N.Y. to take on Union College on Friday night at 7pm.
Union has given the Pride offense fits in the past, and Cerasuolo knows it’s an important week.
“We always say ‘to be where our feet are,’” he said. “But I think it’s always important that you put this one to bed. It’s a short week next week, and our kids will be ready to go.”
(Pictures courtesy of Springfield Athletics)