BRIDGEWATER, Mass – Saturday afternoon, the Buccaneers traveled to Bridgewater State University to take on the Bears in the 40th Annual Cranberry Bowl, presented by Ocean Spray. The Buccaneers came in to the game 2-7, the Bears, 6-3. After all of the hype leading up to a game where the records are put aside and the two teams play for pride, the Bears and Bucs delivered a hard fought, low scoring defensive battle that finished in favor of Bridgewater, 21-7, giving BSU the Cranberry Scoop trophy after the Bucs took it to the Buzzards Bay in 2017.
Buccaneer running back Matt Long (Weymouth, Mass) capped off his 2018 campaign by running the ball 24 times for 118 yards and the lone Buccaneer touchdown in the first quarter. With a number of injuries to MMA offensive players, backup quarterback Curtis Cann (Easton, Mass) started under center. Cann threw 13 times for just 40 yards, 27 of those yards being gained by senior wide receiver Paul Sances (Middleboro, Mass) on two catches. Sophomore wide out Dylan Linehan (Westwood, Mass) caught the other two Cann completions for 13 yards. Defensively for the Buccaneers, freshman Kyle Rogers (Abington, Mass) made 12 total tackles, forces a fumble and broke up two passes. Junior Sean Smialek (South Dartmouth, Mass) had a 10 tackle day, a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss to complete a very good junior's season. Jack Fontana (Grafton, Mass), who has also had a standout year, racked up seven total tackles and two sacks. The Buccaneers sacked BSU quarterbacks a total of four times in the game, two for Fontana, one for Smialek and the four belonged to Erik Marchant (East Bridgewater, Mass).
For the Bears, wide receiver Jack Lavanchy caught five passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns. The performance earned his the MVP award for the game. Quarterback Stefano D'Emilia completed 11 of 23 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown in the game. D'Emilia was relieved by Brad Thilgen who completed seven of 10 passes for 107 and a touchdown. Running back Nick Santavicca tallied 27 carried in the game, gained 139 yards on the ground and scored a touchdown. Defensively for Bridgewater, defensive lineman Dimitri Dorinvil totaled 10 tackles and two sacks on the day. Zachary Carey added a third sack for the Bear defense. The Bears tackled the Bucs behind the line of scrimmage 11 times for a total of 36 yards lost.
The Buccaneers received the opening kickoff of the 40th Annual Cranberry Bowl, freshman kick returner Dane Campbell (Peru, Mass) returned the kick 55 yards to the Bridgewater 35 yard line. The Bucs would open the scoring two minutes later on a six yard Long run for the touchdown. The Maritime lead lasted three minutes before the Bears tied the game following an eight play, 67 yard drive that was capped off by a 21-yards touchdown pass from D'Emilia to Lavanchy.
Following the BSU touchdown, the Bucs punted on the ensuing drive. They regained possession deep in their own end on a fumble forced by Rogers and recovered by Cobey Williamson (Easton, Mass) at the four yard line on what was looking like another touchdown drive for Bridgewater. Maritime couldn't get out of their own end and were forced to punt. The Bears would waste no time breaking the tie this time on a 52 –yard touchdown pass from Thilgen to Lavanchy.
Early in the second quarter, the Academy was forced to punt again on a three-and-out. BSU took the ball and drove 41 yards on ten plays, scoring on a Santavicca one-yard run.
With the score 21-7, the teams went in to the halftime break. In the second half, both teams threatened multiple times, the game never seeming out of reach for the Buccaneers. With the wind whipping both teams were unable to attempt field goals, 0-1 between the teams in the game. Trading punts and turn overs, the team's defenses took control of the game until the clock struck zero in the fourth quarter with the Bears taking the game and the Scoop in the 40th Annual Cranberry Bowl.
With the loss, the Buccaneer finish their season 2-8 overall, 1-7 in the MASCAC. The win for the Bears gives them a 7-3 record over all, 6-2 in conference to finish 2018.