BY RYAN HATHAWAY // SEPT. 6, 2015 //
The Curry Colonels were pummeled Friday night in their season-opener at Bridgewater State University, despite scoring three unanswered touchdowns in a late comeback attempt. BSU scored the game’s first 35 points.
The BSU Bears took control of the game in the first half as senior safety Eric Ford intercepted a pass from Curry junior quarterback Mike O’Hearn and took it all the way to the end zone for a 38-yard score. Bridgewater quarterback Alex McLaughlin, a sophomore, kept the momentum going in the second quarter, rushing for a touchdown to cap a 70-yard drive.
Curry responded with a promising drive of its own, but as the Colonels approached the red zone O’Hearn stared down his target on fourth down and 6. Bridgewater capitalized with its second interception. McLaughlin led another drive downfield and scored his second rushing touchdown just before halftime.
Coach Skip Bandini wasn’t concerned by his team’s first-half struggles.
“Our offensive line has three freshmen starting, and they started doing some stunts and blitzes and we had a difficult time picking them up,” he said. “The kids just had to settle into the college football game.”
The second half started no better than the first had ended. McLaughlin connected with sophomore wide receiver Travis Bassett for a 64-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0, just 29 seconds into the half.
McLaughlin played sparingly after that, but junior quarterback Danny Higgins looked to seal the win with a 29-yard touchdown run five minutes later. Shortly after that, Curry was finally able to figure out the Bridgewater defense.
O’Hearn moved the ball downfield with short screen passes and slant routes to junior fullback Dave DiGiorgi. O’Hearn found the end zone for his first touchdown pass, to junior wide receiver Jake Cawlina.
The next Bridgewater possession ended in a fumble on a botched snap that was recovered by sophomore linebacker Steve Grogan. O’Hearn kept using short passes, finding junior receiver Anthony Nastasi a few times before throwing another touchdown pass to Cawlina to end the third quarter.
The Curry defense continued to slow down the Bears and, with five minutes to go, Cawlina caught his third touchdown pass of the day to cut the deficit to 14.
Back on offense, the Bears ran a flea flicker halfback option. Sophomore running back Malik Garrett connected with junior Dukens Leon on a 35-yard touchdown pass that essentially ended the game. The final score was 42-21.
Nonetheless, Bandini came away encouraged, telling his players after the game: “The way we’ve been practicing this week, I’ve been a little worried. But how we just played…I’m not worried anymore, we’ll be fine, guys.”
Trick plays and… guts: Curry freshman kicker Marc Mrozek tried to take matters into his own hands, with two drive-saving fake punts. Bandini admitted that his staff didn’t call a fake on either play. “He pulled it down twice and got two first downs for us. I mean, the kid’s got stones—I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Keys to the game: “Every football game comes down to about three plays, and we didn’t make those plays tonight,” Bandini said. “We had a chance to win this football game, but we didn’t make a couple of plays that we could’ve.”
Bandini referenced a BSU fumble that Curry couldn’t recover, and a near interception by senior defensive back Mike Morrison. “Mike Morrison is one of the best players in the league, so I’m not blaming Mike,” he said. “But we need to make those plays, and that’s all it comes down to.”
New faces: Bandini said he was proud that his young team “fought like dogs” at the end. “We have 45 freshmen on this team,” he said. “We had a young team last year, and we have an even younger team this year.”
Up next: This Friday, Sept. 11, the Colonels will host the Fitchburg State Falcons for the first home game of the 2015-2016 season.
The game will be under the lights at 7 p.m. at Walter M. Katz field. The Falcons are coming off of a 42-25 victory against Becker College to open their season.