Buccaneers win the Cranberry Bowl!

Buccaneers with the Cranberry Bowl 2017
Buccaneers with the Cranberry Bowl 2017

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Senior running back Richie Phillips (Onset, Mass.) earned Lee Harrington Most Valuable Player honors to lead the Massachusetts Maritime Academy football team to a 21-18 victory over Bridgewater State University in the 39th Annual Cranberry Bowl Presented By Ocean Spray on Saturday afternoon at Clean Harbors Stadium.

Phillips rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown to pace the Buccaneers.

Mass. Maritime won the Cranberry Bowl for just the third time in the last 21 years and just the tenth time in the 39-year history of the event.

The game marked the season-finale for both teams as the Buccaneers improve to 2-8 overall and 1-7 in the MASCAC, while the Bears fall to 2-8 on the year and 2-6 in conference play.

Mass. Maritime scored on the game's opening possession as senior quarterback Chris Haggerty (Cohasset, Mass.) connected with junior wide receiver Paul Sances (Middleboro, Mass.) on a 33-yard touchdown pass to cap off a six-play, 64-yard drive. Sophomore kicker Jesse Hanscom (Uxbridge, Mass.) converted the extra point as the Buccaneers took the early 7-0 lead.

Bridgewater State answered with a ten-play, 52-yard drive with senior running back Alex McLaughlin (Littleton, Mass.) punching it in from four yards out to cut the deficit to 7-6. The ensuing PAT was no good as the ball was kicked into the line.

A Russell Bolarinho (Acushnet, Mass.) 25-yard field goal with 1:19 remaining in the first quarter gave BSU a 9-7 lead. The Bears moved the ball 66 yards on ten plays, but the drive stalled in the red zone at the 17-yard line.

A 37-yard punt return by Sances following a short punt gave the Buccaneers the ball at the BSU three with ten minutes remaining in the second quarter. Phillips barreled into the end zone one play later to give the hosts a 13-9 advantage. The extra point attempt, however, was missed.

The only scoring in the third quarter occurred on a safety as BSU junior defensive tackle Chris Gemayel (Dedham, Mass.) tackled Phillips in the end zone to cut the deficit to 13-11. Moments before the safety, Bridgewater had a second and goal at the MMA one-yard line, but D'Emilia fumbled on a quarterback sneak.

With 9:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. D'Emilia was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone as the safety pushed the Maritime advantage to 15-11. Later in the period, a nine-yard touchdown run by junior Andrew DeCarteret (Nashua, N.H.) with 5:25 left to play extended the lead to 21-11.

Bridgewater answered with a quick seven-play, 45-yard drive with D'Emilia finding senior back Malik Garrett (Dorchester, Mass.) in the end zone from nine yards out. Bolarinho's extra point pulled the Bears to within a field goal at 21-18 with 3:20 left to play. Bridgewater was able to get the ball back with just 39 seconds remaining, but four plays later the clock would run out on the scoreboard and on the season.

Sances caught five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown and also had the big 37-yard punt return which set up a score. Haggerty completed 7 of 14 pass attempts for 94 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

McLaughin rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown to lead Bridgewater State. Junior wide receiver Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) caught seven passes for 71 yards, while D'Emilia completed 17 of 33 pass attempts for 143 with a touchdown and an interception. Garrett finished with five receptions for 47 yards and a score.

Gemayel and senior linebacker Charles McCarthy (North Reading, Mass.) led all players with ten tackles apiece. Gemayel also finished with three tackles for loss including the big stop that led to the safety.

Freshman linebacker Connor Hollister (Auburn, Calif.) paced the Buccaneers with eight tackles (six solo), while senior defensive end Tim Churchill (Scituate, Mass.) notched six stops and forced the key fumble on the D'Emilia sneak. Sophomore safety Austin Stahmer (Wareham, Mass.) checked in with five solo tackles and an interception.

Courtesy Michael Holbrook