WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State football comes home to face Massachusetts Maritime Academy in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference game at homecoming on Saturday, September 28 with a 2:00 p.m. kickoff at Alumni Field, after completing a brutal stretch to open the season that featured two NCAA playoff teams and a perennial national powerhouse.
The Teams: Westfield State enters 0-3, 0-1 in the MASCAC. The Owls have faced Union (a program that has twice played in the national championship game), Western New England, and defending MASCAC Champions Framingham State – the toughest slate to start season in program history as that group is 29-11 in their last 40 games. Mass Maritime comes into today's game with a 2-0 record after sailing past Maritime (NY) 31-14 and Maine Maritime 42-21, behind 102 yards rushing and 138 passing from quarterback Matt Long.
The Series: Westfield State leads the all-time series, 21-16. Westfield has won the last two meetings.
Last Year Westfield secured a 38-24 victory over the Buccaneers in Buzzards Bay, Mass. last season. The Owls were led by 203 yards rushing and 3 TD's by Travon Holder. QB Jake Cassidy added 63 yards on the ground as the Owls racked up 340 yards rushing on the afternoon. MASCAC Defensive Player of the Year Zach Howard made six tackles and had a one-handed interception that he returned 26 yards to set up a score. For the Bucs, QB Ty Ebdon completed 16 of 27 passes for 230 yards and three TD's. Ben Sheehan rushed for 49 yards.
Last Week: Westfield fell to Framingham State, 48-21. Cam Gallagher finished with six catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Shane Clark ran for 67 yards for the Owls while Shaquille Adjei added 57 yards on the ground and one TD. Senior LB George Cole led the Westfield defense with 11 stops. The Buccaneers were a 42-21 winner over Maine Maritime to claim the Admiral's Cup Trophy.
Westfield on Offense: WR Cam Gallagher has been the key to the Owls offense. The senior sparkplug has 17 catches for 183 yards, and two TDs, and has also run for a 59-yard TD as well this season. Senior WR Evan Garvey has 11 catches for 104 yard and a TD. Westfield senior QB Jake Cassidy has thrown for 391 yards and three TD's while completing 51 percent of his passes. The Owls have used a coalition at running back, led by sophomore Shane Clark who has 77 yards on 22 carries and a pair of TDs. Shaq Adjei (59 yards), Chris Belsito (51 yards) and Germaine Everett-Welcome (35 yards) have all seen time.
Westfield on Defense: Safety Alijah Ellis leads the Owls with 26 tackles on the season. Linebackers George Cole and David White each have 24 stops. Senior defensive tackle Jake Mullins leads the d-line with with 15 tackles. Freshman DE Justin Smith has made11 stops.
Westfield Special Teams: Punter Cody Cleveland averaged more than 44 yards per kick last week and leads the league at 41.1 yards per boot. Senior PK Corey Pooler is a perfect 9-9 on extra point tries, but the Owls have not attempted a field goal yet this season.
MMA on Offense: QB Matt Long keys the Buccaneer offense. Through two games he has totaled 216 yards passing with two TD's with a 46.7 completion percentage. He's also a threat on the ground, having rushed for 279 yards and six TD's. Connor Reynolds provides support on the ground with 126 rushing yards. Will Bennett is the top receiver for MMA with four catches for 85 yards.
MMA on Defense: Jack Fontana leads the team with 23 tackles, and linebacker Sean Smialek has 15 stops. All-conference DL Colin McCabe has 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks. The Bucs defense has been able to get after opposing QB's with eight sacks and three interceptions so far this year. Austing Stahmer has all three pickoffs.
MMA on Special Teams: Kicker/punter George Lampros has been ol' reliable for the Buccaneers, as he is a perfect 10-10 on extra points and 1-1 on field goals, and averages 41 yards per punt.
Coverage: The game is web-streamed at WestfieldStateOwls.com, and can be found on the MASCAC.tv channel on ROKU, AppleTV, and AmazonFire devices. Westfield State students Joe Braverman and Josh Delaney have the call of the game.
What's Next: Westfield State will travel to Bridgewater State for a MASCAC game next Saturday, October 5 for a noon kickoff. (Please note that the game time was moved from its original Friday night slot on the calendar due to the EEE scare in southeastern Massachusetts).