WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State senior running back Travon Holder (Cheney/Hartford, Conn.) rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns in his swan song, leading the Owls to a 27-13 win over Western Connecticut State University in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference football game in Danbury, Conn. on Saturday.
Holder's big day carries him over the 1,000 yard mark on the season, as he finished the season with 1,114 yards and 15 touchdowns, one shy of the school's single season mark.
Holder got the day started with a 66-yard touchdown run that opened the scoring in the second quarter.
After Western Connecticut scored to take a 7-6 lead, Owls junior defensive end Zach Kane (Wakefield, Mass.) came up with a 51-yard scoop-and-score fumble recovery for a touchdown which gave Westfield the lead for good at 12-7.
Westfield scored on the opening possession of the third quarter, as Holder capped an 8-play, 61-yard drive with a five yard touchdown run. Westfield quarterback Jake Cassidy (Lawrence Academy/Swampscott, Mass.) connected with fullback Leo Clinton, Jr. (Ledyard/New London, Conn.) on a key 17-yard, third-down pass play that set up the score and a 20-7 Owls lead.
Cassidy later tossed a 66-yard pass and run scoring strike to junior wide receiver Evan Garvey (Wahconah/Dalton, Mass.) that put the Owls up 27-13 to help put the margin out of reach.
The game was marred by penalties. Western Connecticut aided the Owls with 13 penalties for 146 yards on the day; Westfield committed eight penalties that totaled 94 yards.
Defensively, the Owls seniors led the effort, as Tyler Robbins (Valley Christian (Ca.)/Southwick, Mass.) made 14 stops and forced a fumble. Linebackers Andrew Carpenter (Auburn, Mass.) (12 tackles) and Zach Howard (David Prouty/Spencer, Mass.) (9 tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery) helped fuel the effort. Defensive backs Brandon Rivera (Amherst, Mass.) and James English (Danvers/Lynn, Mass.) added seven and five tackles.
Westfield State finishes the season with a 5-5 overall record and a 4-4 mark in the MASCAC.
The game also gave Owls' interim head coach Sean O'Brien his first win while serving as the Owls bench boss as head coach Pete Kowalski was sidelined for the final three games of the season after breaking his leg when rolled up on the sideline earlier this season. O'Brien has been an assistant with the Owls for 24 years, primarily serving as defensive backs coach in that span. Kowalski will return to the Owls sideline once fully recovered.
Western Connecticut falls to 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the MASCAC, as the Owls win eliminated the Colonials from contention for the MASCAC regular season title. The Colonials needed to win Saturday and get help elsewhere in the league in order to secure the top spot.
Austin Calamita finished with seven catches for 98 yards and two TD's for the Colonials. David James completed 14-29 passes for 179 yards and the two TD's.