DANBURY, Conn. -- Senior Kyle McKinnon (New London, Conn.) rushed for 75 yards and three touchdowns to lead Western Connecticut to a 40-27 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference football victory over UMass Dartmouth Saturday evening at the Westside Athletic Complex.
The host Colonials (4-0, 2-0 MASCAC) jumped out to a 7-0 advantage just 48 seconds into the contest when freshman Will Daniels (Bethel, Conn.) hauled in a 65-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback David James (Stamford, Conn.), who extended that margin to 13-0 less than five minutes later with a seven-yard scoring scamper that came off a fumble recovery. The visiting Corsairs (3-2, 2-1 MASCAC) capped an ensuing 14-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Stephen Gacioch (Tiverton, R.I.) to senior Matt Mitchell (Westerly, R.I.) that sliced the deficit to 13-6, and following an interception by junior Mo Rainford (Boston, Mass.) early in the second stanza, UMass Dartmouth forged a 13-13 tie when Gacioch connected with sophomore Leroy Brown (Milton, Mass.) from 53 yards out with 10:06 remaining in the half.
McKinnon gave Western Connecticut a 27-13 edge at the break with a pair of touchdown runs of 12 and 19 yards that came in a 5:09 span in the second quarter, and that score held up until late in the third stanza when Gacioch called his own number from two yards out with 64 seconds to play in the frame to cap an 11-play, 73-yard drive to slice the Corsair deficit to seven. After a Colonial punt and a 34-yard return by junior Tony Slaughter (Springfield, Mass.) set up the visitors at the hosts’ 43-yard line, UMass Dartmouth drove into the red zone before junior Justin Witherspoon (Waterbury, Conn.) intercepted a pass at his own three yard line and returned it for a pick-six that extended Western Connecticut’s lead to 34-20 with 10:53 remaining in the contest.
The Corsairs responded on the ensuing drive to pull back to within seven (34-27) after Gacioch threw his third scoring toss of the night, a 16-yard connection with junior Kevin Gonzalez (Pawtucket, R.I.), with just under eight minutes to play, but McKinnon iced the Colonials’ triumph by capping an 11-play, 65-yard drive with a four-yard plunge that came with three minutes remaining and accounted for the final margin.
McKinnon accounted for nearly half of Western Connecticut’s 162 rushing yards on the night, as James completed 13-of-26 pass attempts for 254 yards that included four connections with Daniels for 105 yards and three hook-ups with senior Austin Calamita (North Branford, Conn.) for 70 yards. Gacioch completed 26-of-44 pass attempts for 300 yards to go with his four total touchdowns in the setback for UMass Dartmouth, as he, Mitchell, sophomore Olawale Junaid (Boston, Mass.) and freshman Steffan Gravely (Lynn, Mass.) combined for all of the visitors’ 206 rushing yards. Brown hauled in seven catches for 130 yards to go with his score for the Corsairs, who received eight receptions for 64 yards from Mitchell in outgaining the hosts by nearly 100 yards (506-420) and running 19 more plays (83-64) on the night.
Senior Derek Jones (Middletown, Conn.) recorded seven total tackles and a forced fumble to lead the way defensively for Western Connecticut, which also received seven stops from sophomore Daija Fitzpatrick (Bristol, Conn.). Junior Connor Russ (Middletown, R.I.) registered a game-high nine tackles in the setback for UMass Dartmouth, while Rainford added seven total stops and a sack to go with his interception for the Corsairs.
UMass Dartmouth will be idle until Saturday, October 13th when the Corsairs travel to Bridgewater, Mass. to take on Bridgewater State in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference clash that kicks off at 4:00 pm, while Western Connecticut heads to Worcester, Mass. next Saturday afternoon to square off with Worcester State in a MASCAC outing that kicks off at Noon.