UMass Dartmouth Outlasts Worcester State , 34-33
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Freshman running back Charles Ruffin (Miami, Fla.) rumbled into the end-zone on four-yard touchdown with just over a minute remaining in regulation and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with stood a late charge to earn a 34-33 victory this afternoon in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) football contest at Cressy Field.
Sophomore quarterback Cullen Hanna (Richmondville, N.Y.) engineered his second straight game-winning drive, leading the Corsairs on a 12-play, 86-yard march to provide the hosts with one-point lead. Hanna completed 18-of-40 attempts for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Ruffin paced UMass Dartmouth on the ground with 79 yards, including the decisive score. Junior Adam Ledoux (Somerset, Mass.) hauled in a team-high six receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Abiola Aborishade (Attleboro, Mass.) caught three passes for 73 yards and a TD.
Worcester State (3-3, 1-3 MASCAC) junior quarterback Pat Viencek (Bernardston, Mass.) entered the contest midway threw the second quarter, finished 20-for-37 with 329 yards and three touchdowns. Senior AJ Scerra (Marlboro, Mass.) recorded a game-high 11 receptions for 147 yards and a TD, while junior Casey Hippert (Douglas. Mass.) pulled in eight catches for 136 yards and a score. Junior running back Dana Valentine (Roxbury, Mass.) accounted for 162 all-purpose yards—59 on the ground, 69 threw the air on four receptions, and 34 return yards.
The UMass Dartmouth (3-3, 3-2 MASCAC) defense had to make one final stand to earn its third win in its past four contests. Viencek led the Lancers into the Corsair red zone by completing three passes for 49 yards, setting up the visitors on the 14-yard line. However, senior Alex Blakslee (Shrewsbury, Mass.) missed a 31-yard field goal just to left of the uprights as time expired to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
Worcester State cracked the scoring column with 5:11 remaining in the first quarter, when junior quarterback Kevin Bumpus (Bridgewater, Mass.) scampered in from seven-yards out. Valentine sparked the scoring drive with a 23-yard screen pass to convert a third-down to put the Lancers inside the 10.
After a Corsair interception near the end of the first stanza by WSU freshman Markiesh Harmon (Leominster, MA), Worcester State took advantage of good field position to march to the UMD 18-yard line. The UMass Dartmouth defense registered a fourth-down stand to turn the ball over to its offense. The Corsairs offense responded with a 69-yard scoring strike from Hanna to Aborishade to even the contest at 7-7.
The Lancers promptly responded with a 64-yard scoring flick at the 3:08 mark of the second quarter from Viencek to Hippert, sending the visitors into the locker room with a 14-7 halftime advantage.
UMass Dartmouth took the opening possession of the second half on a methodical 15-play, 79-yard series that was capped by a 17-yard touchdown reception by Ledoux with 10:16 left in the third.
Worcester State regained the lead on its ensuing possession with a six-play, 64-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard toss to junior Jack Sprague (Maynard, Mass.) less than 2½ minutes later. The scoring drive was sparked by 56-yard grab Scerra
The Corsair defense produced two touchdowns to provide UMass Dartmouth its first advantage of the contest. Sophomore Derek Tarpey (Tewsbury, Mass.) forced a fumble that was recovered for a 40-yard touchdown by junior Cody Merritt (Plymouth, Mass.) with two minutes remaining on the third quarter clock (PAT failed). Less than three minutes later, freshman DeVon Fuller (Washington, D.C.) picked off Viencek for a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The Lancers responded with 12 unanswered points to take a 33-27 lead with four minutes, 36 seconds remaining in regulation. Viencek started the surge with a four-yard plunge with (PAT blocked) while also firing a three-yard score to Scerra (PAT missed) with 4:36 remaining in regulation.
Fuller led the Corsair defense with four interceptions for 106 return yards and four tackles, while Tarpey collected a game-best 15 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, and a forced fumble. Senior Arthur Azatyants (Brookline, Mass.) also reached double digits in tackles with 10
Senior Adam Straughn (Rockland, Mass.) posted nine tackles—1.5 for a loss—one sack and a forced fumble for Worcester State. Freshman Matt Loureiro (West Bolyston, Mass.) registered 10 stops, while junior Mike Dance (Rocky Hill, Conn.) collected six tackles, including four for a loss. Harmon penned two interceptions in his ledger.
UMass Dartmouth will return to action at 12 p.m. on Oct. 26, when the Corsairs travel to Massachusetts Maritime Academy for a MASCAC showdown. Worcester State will also be in action next Saturday, when the Lancers host Western Connecticut at 1:30 p.m. on Homecoming Weekend.