BUZZARDS BAY, Mass – The 4-1 Buccaneers welcome in the 1-5 Fitchburg State Falcons on Saturday, October 19th for a 12pm game at Clean Harbors Stadium. The Bucs are looking to get back on track after a setback against West Conn last Saturday, while the Falcons are still in search of their first conference victory of the season after a loss to Framingham last Saturday.
Maritime comes in to the game 4-1, 2-1 in the MASCAC, which his fifth in the conference with game on the two teams above them in the standings, Plymouth State and Bridgewater State. Their lone loss of the season came last week against West Conn on the road, 38-21. They have beaten Worcester State and Westfield State in conference thus far. Fitchburg comes in a 1-5 overall, 0-4 in conference play. The Falcons only win of the season came in week two at home against the ECFC's Castleton State, 12-10. The Falcons have dropped their four conference matchups to Mass-Dartmouth, Bridgewater State, Plymouth State, and Framingham State by a combined score of 185-26. The four teams in the MASCAC that the Falcons have lost to are the remaining opponents for the Buccaneers following this week's game.
All-time, the series between the Buccaneers and Falcons is tied with each team having won 16 of the 32 matchups. Last season, the Falcons were victorious in the annual meeting 36-20.
In last week's loss to West Conn, Maritime was held to 21 points by the Colonials. At the start of the fourth quarter of the gam the teams were separated by just three points, 24-21 in favor of West Conn. In the game, senior quarterback Ty Ebdon (Gales Ferry, Conn) led the passing game with 103 yards on eight completions while throwing a touchdown pass to senior wide out Will Bennett (Sandwich, Mass). Bennett finished the day with five receptions for 86 yards and the score. Senior quarterback Matt Long (Weymouth, Mass) led the running attack with 34 yards and a touchdown, ending his streak of three touchdown games at four. Long's 13 rushing touchdowns so far in 2019 is currently tied with Lance Moise of Concordia Chicago for the most rushing touchdowns in the nation among division three institutions. Freshman running back Ja'iel Johnson (Dodge City, Kan) picked up the first touchdown of his collegiate career in the West Conn game as well, scoring from 12 yards out. Defensively, Buccaneer senior defensive back Austin Stahmer (Wareham, Mass) intercepted his fifth pass of the season which leads the MASCAC and ties him for the most interceptions in the nation among division III institutions. Kicker George Lampros (Bridgewater, Mass) also remained perfect on the season in the PAT category, converting all three of his tries in the game.
Fitchburg was at home against Framingham State last weekend and were upended by the Rams, 56-7. Framingham scored 14 points in the first half and then went on to score six more times in the second half allowing the Falcons to score once. Fitchburg gained 148 yards on offense in the game, 80 through the air, 68 on the ground. Their only score was a passing touchdown from quarterback Connor Fitzsimon to wide receiver Joshua Nelson. Nelson led the Falcons with three catches for 39 yards. Running back Steve Lawton rushed the ball 17 times for 50 yards to lead the running game for Fitchburg.
Coming in to Saturday's match-up the Buccaneers are executing in all three phases of the game. Long is 41-of-84 on the year for 519 yards and two touchdowns through the air while also having picked up 521 yards on the ground on 95 attempts. He has scored 13 times on the ground which, as previously mentioned, leads the MASCAC and the nation. Running back Conner Reymolds (Norton, Mass) and Ja'iel Johnson (Dodge City, Kan) have put in their work in the first half of the season. Reynolds has gained 238 yards on the ground, scoring once. Johnson picked up his first touchdown against West Conn and has gained 107 yards on 26 carries this season with the bulk of those carries and yards coming last week. Will Bennett (Sandwich, Mass) is leading all Bucs with 286 receiving yards on 14 receptions with one touchdown. Senior wide out Ryan McNally (Sandwich, Mass) also has double digit catches, 11, for 107 yards and a score in 2019.
Defensively, defensive lineman Colin McCabe (Dartmouth, Mass) and Kyle Johnston (Raynham, Mass) have been a huge part of the unit. Between them they have 15 sacks, 7.5 each which is tied for the lead in the Conference and tied for fourth in the nation with the leader sitting at nine going in to week seven of the season. Linebacker Jack Fontana (Grafton, Mass) has totaled 55 tackles on the season, averaging 11 per game, tops in the conference and tied for 25th in the nation heading in to the week. Defensive back Austin Stahmer (Wareham, Mass) has five interceptions on the season which leads the conference and is tied for first in the nation.
On special teams, kicker/punter George Lampros (Bridgewater, Mass) has converted all 27 of his PATs on the season and is 2-for-2 on field goals for the year with a long of 32 yards. In the punt game, Lampros and Long have shared duties, Lampros punting 17 times for 714 yards, an average of 42 yards, having pinned opponents inside their own 20 yard line four times while Long has punted 18 times for 744 yards, an average of 41.3 yards, 10 inside the 20. J. Johnson is also on kick return duty for the Bucs along with Fellow freshman Evan Dyer (East Bridgewater, Mass). Johnson has returned seven kicks for 171 yards with Dyer returning four for 91 yards, setting up the Bucs with exceptional field position on most occasions.
Through six games, the Falcons are led in the passing game by Connor Fitzsimons, the only Falcon to have thrown a pass this season. Fitzsimons is 92-of-188 for 797 yards, five touchdowns and 11 interceptions. On the receiving end of those passes on most occasions are Jesse Brown and Joshua Nelson who have caught 48 of the 92 completions, 24 apiece. Brown has gained 247 yards, Nelson 229 with each having scored two touchdowns. The rushing game has been a struggle for the Falcons this season as they have yet to score a touchdown on the ground. Steven Lawton leads the team with 167 yards rushing on 37 attempts, though he has fumbled twice, losing both. Two other backs, Fernando Santiago and Robert Jackson have gained over 100 yards from scrimmage, 143 and 113 respectively, to spread the ball around
Defensively, Richard Austin leads the Falcons with 38 total tackles. Austin also leads the team in tackles for loss with 5.5. As a team, Fitchburg has 10 total sacks, Caleb Gonsalves and Joel Monteiro each have two. Falcon defensive backs have intercepted two passes, one by safety Arnold Cadell, Jr. and the other by Malik Crawford.
On special teams, kicking has been a revolving door for the team with three different kickers having attempted extra points. Junior linebacker Melchior Lynch has converted his only PAT attempt and has made two field goals on two attempts. Sophomore Benedict Cezair-Thompson is 0-for-2 on extra point attempts Junior Linnea D'Acchille is 1-for-2 on her attempts and is slated to serve as the Falcons kicker in Saturday's game. Joseph Haskins, also a wide receiver, has punted 33 times for the team for 1,053 yards, a 31.9 yard average, and has pinned teams inside their own 20 on 10 of those punts. Wide receiver Joshua Nelson also serves are the team's primary kick returning, having returned 12 punts for 196 yards.
Saturday's game can be followed and watched by going to the schedule page of the football team and clicking the live stat or line stream link. Kickoff is at 12pm.
Following the game against Fitchburg the Buccaneers will prepare for and travel to Plymouth, N.H. to take on the Plymouth State Panthers in MASCAC play. Gametime is 1pm on Saturday, October 26th.