BUZZARDS BAY, Mass – Saturday afternoon marked the final game of the season for Mass Maritime football as they hosted Bridgewater State in the 41st Annual Cranberry Bowl presented by A&A Metro Transportation. In what was a phenomenal battle for 60 minutes, the Buccaneers lost a 15-point lead late and lost to the Bears 26-21.
Final: Bears 26, Buccaneers 21
Records: Mass Maritime 6-4 (4-4 MASCAC)
Bridgewater State 6-4 (6-2 MASCAC)
For The Bucs
- Senior quarterback Matt Long (Weymouth, Mass) threw the ball just 12 times in the game, completing three passes for 63 yards. On the ground, Long ran the ball 28 times for 94 yards and three touchdowns.
- Freshman running back Ja'iel Johnson (Dodge City, Kan) ran the ball eight times for 30 yards while sophomore back Conner Reynolds (Norton, Mass) ran the ball 11 times for 27 yards.
- In the receiving game freshman Isaac Green (Sarasota, Fla) caught one pass for 35 yards and senior Will Bennett (Sandwich, Mass) caught two passes for 28 yards.
- Junior linebacker Jack Fontana (Grafton, Mass) made a game-high 15 tackles for the Bucs while also breaking up a pass.
- Senior linebacker Sean Smialek (Dartmouth, Mass) made 14 tackles.
- Senior defensive back Austin Stahmer (Wareham, Mass) made 13 tackles, had one tackle for loss, forced a fumble and broke up a pass.
- Senior defensive lineman Kyle Johnston (Raynham, Mass) made seven tackles, recorded a sack and three tackles for loss while also batting a pass down at the line of scrimmage.
- Junior defensive lineman Colin McCabe (Dartmouth, Mass) made seven tackles and recovered a fumble.
- Sophomore defensive back Kyle Rogers (Abington, Mass), senior defensive back Hunter Leveille (Easthampton, Mass) and junior defensive back Ben Jordan (Chelmsford, Mass) each intercepted a pass in the game. Leveille also recorded three pass breakups.
- Kicker/punter George Lampros (Bridgewater, Mass) made all three of his extra point attempts in the game. He also punter the ball seven times for 270 yards. An average of 38.6 yards per punt with a long punt of 51 yards.
For The Bears
- Senior quarterback Stefano D'Emilia was completed 20 of 38 passes for 174 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and threw three interceptions. On the ground, D'Emilia ran the ball 13 times for 40 yards and two touchdowns. D'Emilia also serves as the punter for the Bears and punted the ball five times for 151 yards, an average of 30.2 yards per punt. He pinned the Bucs inside their own 20 yard line four times.
- Running back Nick Santavicca ran the ball 25 times for a game-high 139 yards. He also caught a pass for five yards.
- Tight end Joseph Leanos caught a game-high six passes for 61 yards.
- Wide outs Nathan Ellis and T.J. Hairston each caught a touchdown pass. Ellis caught three balls for 36 yards, Hariston had two receptions for 14 yards.
- Maxwell Kroll led the Bears defensively with 11 tackles and a tackle for loss.
- John Philpott made 10 tackles for Brigewater.
- Sophomore Dimitri Dorinvil made four tackles and recorded the lone Bear sack of the day.
- Kicker Thomas Fay missed one extra point and a bad snap on another forced a PAT failure.
How It Happened
The 41st Annual Cranberry Bowl presented by A&A Metro Transportation was an instant classic. The first half was dominated by the Buccaneer and Bear defenses. In the first quarter the teams combined for five punts, a turnover on downs and the Bears tossed an interception. The longest drive of the quarter was by the Buccaneers which was the opening drive of the game. It went for 25 yards on six plays and ended in a punt. The first quarter ended with the teams in a scoreless tie.
The second quarter went much like the first. Neither defense was budging forcing the offenses to stall on every drive. Again, there were five punts by each side and a fumble by the Bears on their biggest drive of the first half. The fumble occurred in the redzone with the Bucs recovering the fumble at their own four yard line to take over. The Bears had gone 51 yards in eight plays. The Bucs went on to punt in their ensuing drive. The Bears took over but the half would run out with the score still tied at 0-0.
Bridgewater received the opening kickoff of the second half after deferring after the coin toss to open the game. D'Emilia three his second interception of the game giving the Bucs great field position in Bear territory. The Bucs went 24 yards on six plays, capping the drive off with a Long touchdown run and a Lampros extra point to take a 7-0 lead. A three-and-out by each team followed the Buccaneer touchdown and on their third drive of the third quarter the visiting Bears went on a six-minute drive which went 61 yards in 15 plays scoring on a D'Emilia touchdown run. The extra point attempt was no good due to a bad snap keeping the Bucs ahead 7-6 with 2:35 remaining in the third. That 7-6 score in favor of the Bucs would be the score at the end of the third quarter.
To begin the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers had possession; a drive that began with 2:35 remaining in the third. The Buccaneers would go 68 yards down the field and score on Long's second touchdown run of the day to extend their lead to 14-6 after Lampros' extra point. On the Bears next drive, D'Emilia threw his third interception of the day. Leveille picked the ball off and nearly brought it back for a touchdown but was brought down at the Bridgewater five yard line. The Bucs proceeded to go five yards in three plays and score on Long's third touchdown of the day and extend their lead to 21-6. What seemed like a comfortable 15-point lead for the Bucs would quickly diminish in the final 11 minute of the game. After the Bucs touchdown the Bears took the ball 58 yards on eight plays and capped it off with a D'Emilia touchdown run from one yard out. The Bears would go for two after the touchdown and converted. However, there was an offensive pass interference penalty that pushed the team back forcing them to attempt an extra point. Fay's kick was blocked by Peter Banks (Webster, Mass) and the Bucs maintained a two-score, nine-point lead, 21-12 with eight and a half minutes to play. The Bucs would be forced to punt on their next drive and the Bears took over on their own 44 yard line. A D'Emilia touchdown pass to Ellis from 14 yards capped off a 56-yard drive. Fay's converted extra point brought the game to 21-19, Buccaneers still in the lead. On their next drive the Bucs against were stalled and forced to punt. Bridgewater would take over at their own 32 yard line this time after a 38 yard punt by Lampros. With 3:19 left in the game, D'Emilia and the Bears drove 68 yards and scored on a D'Emilia touchdown pass to Hairston to put the Bears up for the first time in the game, 26-21 after the extra point. The Bucs got the ball back one more time with 22 second left on the clock but were unable to erase the five-point Bear lead.
The clock struck zero and the Bears won the 41st Annual Cranberry Bowl 26-21. Head coach Joe Verria and the Bears were presented with the Scoop Trophy after the game and D'Emilia was presented with the Lee Harrington MVP trophy for his performance.
This marks the end of the 2019 season for head coach Jeremy Cameron and the Buccaneers. The 6-4 finish is the best Maritime football finish to a season since 1999 and the best record for Coach Cameron at Mass Maritime. The Bucs claimed the Chowder Bowl to open the season with a 31-14 win over SUNY Maritime which was followed up by an Admiral's Cup victory over Maine Maritime, 42-21. The Bucs began with season 4-0 with wins over Westfield State, 31-7 in week four and 28-13 over Worcester State in week five at home on Homecoming weekend. The team's biggest win of the season in terms of score came at home when the Bucs shutout Fitchburg State 37-0. Their sixth and final win, securing a winning season for Maritime, came in week 10 against UMass-Dartmouth on the road last week, 28-14.