FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's football team carried a 14-13 advantage into the locker room, but Framingham State University scored 13 unanswered points to earn a 26-14 victory Saturday evening on the Maple Street Field.
The Corsairs (3-2) suffered their first Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) setback to fall to 2-1, while the Rams (4-1) took sole possession of first place in the conference circuit with a 3-0 mark.
UMass Dartmouth stifled Framingham State's vaunted passing attack, which entered the contest ranked 16th in the nation (347.8). Ram senior quarterback Matt Silva (Dracut, Mass.), who entered the game as the NCAA Division III leader in passing yards (1368) and passing touchdowns (19), was contained throughout the contest. The Corsair defense limited Silva to completing just 11-of-29 attempts for 115 yards and a touchdown, while also throwing an interception.
Senior Derek Tarpey (Tewksbury, Mass.) spearheaded the Corsairs' defensive attack with a season-high 11 tackles, including a sack. Junior Alex Ortega (Lynn, Mass.) patrolled the secondary with seven stops, an interception, and broke up three passes.
The Rams featured an opportunistic defense, forcing four interceptions that resulted in 19 points off turnovers. Framingham State capitalized on its short-field opportunities, scoring on drives of 9, 22, and 7 yards.
After the Rams converted on an interception to set up their first touchdown, sophomore Matt Cronin (Framingham, Mass.) returned the ensuing kickoff 28 yards, setting the Corsairs up near midfield. UMass Dartmouth then marched 51 yards on 10 plays to take the lead, capping the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to junior Alex Heffernan (Quincy, Mass.). Junior Steve Trask (Billerica, Mass.) converted the extra point to give the visitors a 7-6 advantage.
Three plays later, Ortega intercepted a Silva pass at midfield to put the Corsairs in prime position to widen their lead. UMass Dartmouth committed to the run, ripping off three consecutive plays of at least 10 yards. Sophomore Eddie Sheridan (Chelmsford, Mass.) took a sweep 16 yards, the longest carry by a Corsair ball carrier, to set the visitors up with a first and goal situation at the hosts' five-yard line. On the next play, junior Cory Burnham (Essex, Mass.) scampered five yards to extend UMass Dartmouth's lead to 14-6.
The Rams continued to capitalize on Corsair miscues, as Framingham State recovered a fumble off a punt at the visitors' 22-yard line. The hosts cashed in on the short field, as senior Matt Mangano (Winchester, Mass.) plunged in from one-yard out on fourth and goal.
Framingham State seized control of the contest in the third quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns to create the final margin of victory. UMass Dartmouth pinned the Rams on their own three-yard line, but Framingham State used a methodical 10-play, 97 yard drive to regain the lead at 20-14. Silva capped the scoring drive with an 18-yard run.
The Rams turned their third interception of the afternoon into points, picking off the Corsairs deep in their own territory. On the ensuing play, Silva hooked up with senior Tevin Jones (Springfield, Mass.) for a seven-yard strike.
The Corsair special teams unit continued to excel at blocking place kicks, knocking away another two extra points as well as a field goal. Senior Anthony LaRose (Dorchester, Mass.) blocked two kicks, and sophomore Louis Petrella (Mansfield, Mass.) had the other. Meanwhile, Cronin's 86 total kick return yards accounted for a team high in all-purpose yardage.
UMass Dartmouth will return to action at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, when the Corsairs host Bridgewater State University.